Changing lives

2015-05-05 06:00

At least one life of a self-confessed gangster and drug addict may change.

This comes after the Department of Community Safety (Docs) visited the Lavender Hill community on Thursday 19 March.

During the introduction of the youth programme offered to youth aged between 18 and 35, one man stood up and told his story of wanting to make use of the opportunity presented to the gang-ridden community.

The 28-year-old man, who requested to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation, stood up to tell his story to youth who filled the Lavender Hill Civic Centre.

“I was presented with an opportunity to equip myself with skills at the Chrysalis Academy when I was 16 years old. I went there but within the first week, I decided the programme wasn’t for me. So I ran away,” he recalled.

While addressing the group who gathered in the community centre he recounts his life decisions.

Jemayne Andrews and official from Docs listened patiently as she called order in the room after the room erupted for a few seconds.

“I want us all to listen to his story. He knows exactly what the impact of his choices were and has chosen to come out here today to come share his story,” Andrews said.

He was asked to continue with his story when the man said he wanted help to better his life.

“I am tired of living this life. Both my parents have passed away and I have nowhere to go. I don’t even have a fixed address because my aunt and uncle put me out of my parents’ council-owned home due to me smoking drugs,” he said.

He added that he got caught up in drugs and gangsterism from a very young age.

“I am going to be honest and say that I am a gangster and I use drugs but I am tired of this life. I want to do something better with my time,” he added.

When asked what he does for a living, he says he does not have a job at the moment but worked as a general labourer.

“But I don’t work at the moment. Ek is ‘n bendelid [I am a gangster].”

Andrews offered help to the young man through the provincial department’s youth programme, which he welcomed.

“I would really appreciate it if you could help me steer my life in another direction. I don’t want to stand on street corners anymore and harass the public for money,” he added.

While listening to his story, Andrews fought back her tears and said: “This is what this programme is all about.”

“We want to present our youth with opportunities so they may better their lives. Even if we just help one life here today it will be enough for me,” she said.

Ewald Botha, provincial community safety minister Dan Plato’s spokesperson, says the coalition with the department and community is important to ensure the safety of the youth.

“The department understands the necessity for our youth to be safe and to have access to opportunities and development at safe venues. That is why our interventions and meaningful partnerships across the board seek to help communities create safer environments and for the youth to have safer alternatives available to them,” Botha says.


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