My name is Bheki and I am from Durban. I was raised by my grandmother with her pension. This was because my mother’s hearing was damaged when she was young, due to her teeth having being removed. This resulted in her leaving school prior to completion. As a result of this I could not have a proper conversation with my mother.
Seeing the many difficulties my grandmother experienced was very troubling. I always asked about my father and she told me that he had another family and was married to someone else. My father was employed at a big company and my mother was not made aware about this marriage and his other family.
I used to ask myself why my father had not taken care of me and my older sister who had stayed with my Aunt from a young age. Subsequently, I grew up with a lot of hatred towards my father and growing older meant more expenses. I needed money for school, uniforms, books etc.
This lead to me feeling depressed and thinking that I was a mistake, since my parents were not married. I had no purpose. Then in Grade 10, I started smoking cigarettes in an effort to try and fit in. I could not register for Grade 12 since I did not have the proper identification documents. Therefore, my Grandmother and I had to go back and forth to the Department of Home Affairs – costing her much money.
I then started smoking dagga and drinking alcohol in Grade 12. I had no hope and no vision. Nonetheless, I eventually received my Identity Book, but my first name and the date of birth were incorrect. My Grandmother said maybe they wanted me to get pension early!
I failed Grade 12 and decided to study to be a fashion designer. After studying I worked as a fashion designer in Durban. As the money started coming in, I began clubbing and using ecstasy. The drug dealer who I bought ecstasy from started telling me about other drugs that he sold and I bought crack cocaine and heroin from him and started selling it myself to make more money.
What I was selling, I would also smoke because it was so easily accessible now. Things got worse and I lost my job. Then I started smuggling drugs into prison. When I was caught, I was banned from that prison.
In 2016, I was caught in possession of crack cocaine. Fortunately, my uncle bailed me out for R5000. Things got worse and I started stealing from home, shops, robbing people and hijacking cars. My Grandmother tried to intervene. My mother would cry a lot because of my lifestyle and the community was getting tired of me. It came to a point where I had to make a decision, since I had many pending cases and a lot of people wanted to take my life.
I heard about CYPSA, where they told me that God would forgive me and help me if I humbled myself and truly seek Him above all. I began to earnestly confess all of the wrong that I had done in my life and for the first time I felt total joy, peace and happiness.
I have forgiven my father and made right with my grandmother. I now have a good relationship with my family. After a year at CYPSA I went back to court and by God’s Grace I was only given a suspended sentence of five years for all the drug-related charges which were pending against me. I have such a blessing of God over my life, that I even felt the presence of God in court that day!
I am currently working and continue to make my life right with God's help.
I was born in Durban, at Parklands hospital. I come from a very good family.
My father and mother got divorced when I was 6 years old, my sister was very young. Growing up it was a normal childhood. Although we grew up in a separated family, our needs were met and my father and mother did their best to raise and support us.
When I was in grade 5, my mother took me to a specialist because I wasn’t performing well at school and I was prescribed Ritalin from the age of 12 years onwards. I didn’t know it yet, but I had already started my career of drug addiction.
As I grew older, I started experimenting with cigarettes and alcohol. Nevertheless, I excelled in academics and chess, receiving my KZN colours for chess.
I progressed to smoking dagga in grade 9 and from there moved on to using cocaine. It wasn’t long after that, that I became a hard-core alcohol and drug abuser. For the last few years I was abusing whoonga (heroin).
The last 10 years of my addiction was an ongoing battle for my sobriety. My family tried everything they could, but no results were being produced. I went to a total of five rehabilitation centres and due to constantly relapsing, I continued to fail at staying away from a life of drug-abuse.
It wasn’t until July this year that I came to CYPSA. I came here broken and in need of help after everything else had failed. I got here and spoke with a counsellor and started making my life right with God. I took this program very seriously as I saw it as being my last opportunity to fix my life.
Today, I can testify that it is only through the power of the Lord that a person can be set free and healing can take place. I had lost everything but God has restored back all that was lost and more. Today I have made right with my family, they accept me and I am now working at CYPSA as part of the secuirty team. I love giving back after what this place has given to me.
I am forever grateful to CYPSA for providing me with the opportunity and means to change my life.
We, the youth of South Africa are so fed up with the power that be. Our future is dark.
Most Governments protect their citizen’s right to freedom of speech and the freedom to practise the religion of their choice by means of the Constitution. In South Africa, new laws will pave the way for an era of oppression and persecution because of the whims of our dictators.
As the majority of South African youth wait for the delivery of promises for better housing, improved health care, affordable and accessible education our Government is playing games and preoccupied with drafting new bills. It’s a matter of Rome is burning while the bosses braai.
The proposed Hate Speech Bill is designed to criminalise everything, from actual hate speech to harmless comments or comic cartoons, in newspapers and on social media. Any communication which is considered "abusive or insulting", any act of "contempt or ridicule" of a person, or ‘group of persons’ could be punished with a 10 year prison sentence.
The majority of the people of South Africa have not been consulted. We have no say. Our poor and rural communities have once again been marginalised and are forced to read these laws in English and Afrikaans.
We might soon find only one party in the ruling benches in parliament while the rest are handed prison sentences if they dare to debate the issues of the day, or speak on behalf of the people, which might ‘offend’ the speaker of the house.
We find these bills offensive.
1) The Hate Speech Bill will make ordinary human expression (verbal, gestures, displays, expressions, illustrations etc. which also includes the use of e-mail and social media) punishable for up to three years in prison.
2) The Bill assaults freedom of expression and muzzles the media into pleasing the ‘powers that be’. There will only be one voice, the voice of the one in power.
3) Not only is it a threat to freedom of speech and thought, but also to religious freedom.
4) This proposed legalisation would give the ruling party more power to jail and silence any opposition whatsoever.
5) The Commercialisation of Religion Bill will allow the ruling party to dictate all forms of religious expression and beliefs.
6) These Bills are setting the stage for political and religious persecution, especially if it criminalises healthy debate about religion and politics.
7) According to this legislation, whistle-blowing corrupt activities could be construed to be hate speech.
Indeed, freedom of speech and religious freedom will become reasons for state capture.
The agenda behind these bills is obvious to us. The next General Election is very soon. Is the ruling party fast tracking their agenda to silence the opposition, the people and eradicate democracy, while trying to escape corruption and criminal investigations by the ICC?
Will South Africa become the latest pawn in a battle between dictatorship and democracy, freedom and oppression?
CYPSA Spokes person: Bongiwe Mhlongo