Mthetheleli (MT) grew up influenced by gangsterism and eventually became a gangster; he ended up in prison but turned his life around; this is his inspiring story.


Cape Town, South Africa – Mthetheleli (MT) was one of six children, struggling to live on their mother’s income. His dad was abusive towards his mother, and his parents didn’t share the same values, causing the children to become undisciplined. Their community was constantly at war, forcing them to continually seek refuge. MT and his siblings each scattered in their own direction. His mother meant the world to MT, and she pleaded with him to make the right choices.

Sadly, he got involved in gangsterism at the age of 14 and began a downward spiral into a life of crime: fast cars, fast choices, and young people perishing prematurely desensitised MT to his gangster lifestyle.

Finally, his crimes caught up with him and MT ended up being sentenced to 45 years in prison, minimised to an effective 20 years because of his age at the time.

While in Drakenstein Correctional Services (DCS) Facility after a violent battle between rival gangs, MT saw another pile of blood on the floor. He sensed a small voice warning him that unless he changed, it might be his blood that is spilt next. In his room, he prayed a desperate prayer and decided to change his life.

The hardest part was informing the gang members, fearing they might seek revenge. It took courage, but he was ready to become a better man.

The road of change is difficult, and an army of inspirational people came alongside MT, faithfully nurturing him in his walk. While still feeling his past holding him back, and his future uncertain, MT built relationships with people from The Message Trust who were running programmes for prisoners.

Since his release from prison, The Message Trust has helped MT find accommodation, helped him establish his own small tourism business and provided ongoing mentorship and support. He started working with The Message Trust in their Gangstar Café social enterprise, overseeing all their merchandise and sharing his story of transformation with the public. Today, MT presents job readiness and life skills training to other young men in prison and gangs, sharing his life story as a message of hope.

The Message Trust is one of Valcare’s partner nonprofit organisations. To read more about Valcare and how to get involved, go to

Sources: Valcare Supplied
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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