22 January 2019

A new dawn

Despite being the favourite among four siblings and getting everything he wanted from his parents, Vuyani still lived a life of crime and substance abuse when he was in high school.

"I joined a gang that drank and used drugs. I was so rebellious that I used all those substances even on school premises. I then took part in criminal activities such as breaking into people's houses and stealing their belongings. I also stole cars. I was arrested on more than two charges, but I was released as I was still under age. I eventually dropped out of school when I was in grade 11," he said.

Vuyani was arrested again when he was 20 years old for car theft. He was on trial for six months before he was sentenced to two years' jail.

"Three years after my release, I was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 12 years in prison. I became a gang leader who was very corrupt and gave orders to other inmates. My drug abuse also escalated because I had people giving me free drugs because I was their general. My family didn't give up on me. They visited me weekly and brought me everything I needed. I became more aggressive after my mother passed away and I refused a pass to go and bury her because I was still in the maximum-security prison," he said.

Twelve years later Vuyani was released on parole.

"In the first few months I was out, I was tempted to go back to my old life, but I met one of my old friends that I used to drink and take drugs with. He was a member of the Universal Church.  He was happily married and a responsible family man. I cried and told him how I wanted to change my life. He suggested that I attend church services which I did. On that first Sunday I felt at peace and developed hope that my life was going to change.

I vowed to God not to go back to my old life. The next day I received a call offering me a job. Since then I never had cravings for alcohol or drugs. I developed my relationship with God. In 2014, I married Lungiswa after dating for six months. I am now a responsible family man who lives a clean life. I'm also involved in the prison ministry as I want to help those who were once in my situation," he said. 

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