Starting over: Inspiration Friday with ex-convinct Mandla Ngwenya

By Drum Digital
24 July 2015

He has a book titled: "You are not an accident."

Mandla Ngwenya’s a rehabilitated ex-convict who also plays a major part in leading the fight against crime, drugs and substance abuse, and emphasising the issue of skills development. He also has a book, You Are Not an Accident.

Mandla lost his aunt, who was like a mother to him, and her husband later remarried. His new wife said she wouldn’t raise somebody else’s child, so Mandla had to make a living for himself.

"It was at this stage when I felt like I had to make a living, and crime became my only option. It started small as always with petty crime like shoplifting. I was young, alone and confused, then I started taking drugs to numb the pain and hunger. It was not long before I started selling those drugs at school, then marijuana became my lunch box and mandrax became my pocket money.

“At 18 years old, I started doing serious crime like housebreaking and car theft, not long after that I had my first prison encounter for housebreaking.

“In 2002, I was sentenced to five years in prison; I only did two. It only took two other years for me to get back into prison, this time for car hijacking. This time, I was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment”, he confesses.

Mandla says while serving his 15-year sentence, he saw a gap. While the Department of Correctional Services plays its role in availing the skills, tools and rehabilitation programmes to inmates, the –inmates ignore such programmes.

“I would like inmates and society to know that the responsibility of their [inmates’] rehabilitation is not only for the Department of Correctional Services, the inmates also have a role to play and be responsible for rehabilitating themselves in order to become better citizens of this country. After they’ve been released from prison, they must take charge in building and developing our country as they’re also the citizens,” Mandla says.

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