Bad News: ‘Being in a gang makes me feel like a man’

2013-09-23 08:00

Sipho* is 18 years old and a ­hardened gangster. He has ­always lived in Nyanga, the Cape Town township in which 262 ­people were murdered during the latest crime-statistics period.

He is part of a family of five children raised by a single mother, who he thinks might be pregnant.

“We all have different fathers,” he says. “I do not know who my father is, but that is not an issue now because I do not feel his ­presence. My mother is uneducated and she has tried all she can for me.”

His older brother is in prison, charged with murder. He also has two younger brothers, one 12 and one nine. Sipho dropped out of school in Grade 11.

“Life is hard. I decided to be a breadwinner in my house because my mother does not work. She is HIV-positive and sick.

“As a young man, I had to move out and make a way to live out of poverty. I had to learn things that I was not taught at school, but on the street.”

What he’s learnt is how to cause pain. He says he has killed at least two and raped one girl. He was ­also arrested and jailed for a few months.

“I do this because it’s what I chose and it gives me pleasure,” he says.

“I moved out of home ­because we were too poor and it was crowded. There is no hope there. So at least where I am I get ­respected.”

He now lives in a shack by ­himself.

“When I am with my boys, I feel like I am in a family and I am listened to. I do not drink alcohol, but I smoke weed.

“Since I stopped school, all I do every day is smoke and rob people for money to feed my family. I like good-quality clothing. I regard myself as a skhothane.”

His words are often chilling. “Smoking and being in a gang makes me feel like I am a man.

I hurt people for the fun of it. I feel pleasure by stabbing people.

They look at me and I see my ­father beating my mother as if she does not have children and she is an animal.”

Sipho once had dreams. ­“Before, I saw myself as a teacher, and I liked economics and business studies, but that was only a dream.

“I eat as I rob and wear as I steal. I do not lack much in my life.”

Sipho explains that he is now in a gang war. He boasts that he will kill those who “come in front of me” and that he will do whatever he can to survive.

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