From gang boy to leather man

2016-06-30 06:00
Abongile Fani the founder of KwaMashu Production.

Abongile Fani the founder of KwaMashu Production.

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A former gang member from Gugulethu has changed his errant ways after cheating death and is now an inspiring entrepreneur.

Abongile Fani,27, the founder of KwaMashu Products, which specialises in printed t-shirts and handmade leather bags, saw the need to change and started his own business.

Fani said at 16 years of age, he was already a hardened gang member.

After stabbing a fellow learner during an argument, he was arrested.

He was a Grade 8 at Vista High School, in the Bo-Kaap, but was released on bail.

“Growing up I was very naughty. I was also stabbed about 12 times in Gugulethu and was in ICU for two months at Grooteschuur Hospital.

I decided to change my life after realising that I almost lost my life because of being part of gangs.

There are two ways in gangsterism, it is either you go to jail or you die. I grew up in a shack in Lusaka and life was very tough there,” Fani said.

He said growing up without his father and the disadvantaged background he grew up under with his mother who was unemployed contributed in his choice of joining a gang.

He last saw his father at the age of three.

His father died in 2006.

“It was the only place where I felt comfortable in, because I was not judged for what I was wearing,” he added.

Fani was inspired to change his life after watching Uzalo, a television show which is broadcast on SABC1 on weekdays, after he was discharged from hospital.

He said he decided to name his label KwaMashu, because Uzalo is shot in the area in KwaZulu Natal.

Fani started with T-shirts and later introduced the handmade leather bags after meeting a guy whom he only knows as Marshal, who is now his mentor.

He pays commission to youth in his area who sell his products.

“The business is growing. We even have clients in Germany. I am now planning to start an entertainment company which will help unearth the talent for the youth in the area, more especially those who come from disadvantaged background,” he said.

Fani quit school in Grade 11 as result of being part of gang group.

He thanked his uncle, Daniel Matshane, for standing by him when was still a gang member and Zoso Msindwana, who is a marketing director for his company.

“I would say to the youth they must avoid associating themselves with the wrong crew. The parents must also ensure that they give attention to their children.

They must give them money whenever they need to go to sports activities and ask them how was it when they come back home,” Fani said.

To those who wish to buy his products can get him in NY117 number 38 or by calling him on 0603201691.

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