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Monday, 30 May 2016 06:01

Xolani's Story

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Unfortunately for me, the devil started working in my life from when I was very young. I had started stealing small change at home by the time I was in Grade 1 and it just grew worse from then on. I began to steal small items and food.

Growing up I didn’t have much of a relationship with my mother and I was always closer to my father. But then tragedy struck and my mother and father got divorced when I was only in Grade 3. I lived with my mother after that.

My mother was a Christian but my father abandoned the faith for some reason which I still do not know up until this day. Life for my mother became very difficult and I regularly stole money from her. Two female cousins of mine who were attending university lived with us and I stole from them as well. On one occasion while still in primary school I stole R50 a day for a whole week!

In Grade 6 I smoked my first cigarette. A friend and I bought a cigarette and hid behind the washing line to smoke it just so we could see what smoking was like. I didn’t smoke for a while after that but then in Grade 7 I became friends with a boy at school who was in my grade, but was older than the rest of us. He had a cigarette with him at school one day and I asked if I could smoke with him and from that day onward I began to smoke daily with this new friend of mine.

Those who I became involved with because I smoked cigarettes, also smoked dagga. They introduced me to dagga from Swaziland. Once I started smoking dagga, I stole more from my mother than ever before and she decided to take me to live with my grandmother in the township as I was becoming such a problem.

While living in the township and doing my grade 8 year, I became involved with boys who were shoplifters and we would go around stealing from shops and garages. I treated my grandmother badly and stole R400 from her on one occasion and used the entire amount to smoke dagga.

I was rebellious and just continued to behave worse than ever before. I stole hair conditioner and shampoo from the lady who worked in my grandmother’s house and sold these items for money to smoke dagga.

Once I left home for a whole week without telling anyone where I was going and I would often say that I was going to stay with a friend and that my parents knew, and then I would go and stay with a group of thieves twice my age. This went on for nearly a year.

Things got so bad that my mother had to collect me from my grandmother’s house and take me back to live with her. I attended a new school and met up with new friends who I would go shoplifting with. We targeted a certain clothing store and would steal everything from jeans to jerseys to sunglasses.

This habit eventually grew into robbing people to get money and it all came about as the result of keeping bad company. We tried to rob a coloured man one day and I was arrested for the first time. I was 15 years old and went to juvenile prison. My mother came to see me and I was then released the following day! I escaped as I was a first time offender! I was released under parental supervision.

My mother decided that it would be best to send me to a boarding school in the Eastern Cape. I completed Grade 9 and 10 at this school. I started well but again became involved with bad friends. I wanted to be popular and it was at this time that I started to have girlfriends. After school finished one term, my friends and I decided that we would not go straight home, but that we would take a tour of the Eastern Cape.

We travelled to a nearby town and it was on the first night that I smoked buttons (mandrax) for the first time. I wanted to smoke more. We travelled to East London and there I spent all of my transport money on this drug. I had to call home more than 5 times before my mother would send me more money to travel home. Once she sent it I used it to buy drugs again! I was stuck in East London for 2 weeks!

A friend of my mother who lived in the area took us in. In the end she used her own money to send us back to Bloemfontein as we were stealing from her to smoke drugs and we were eating all of the food in her house.

When I arrived back in Bloemfontein things really got bad. I began shoplifting excessively and I was caught. That was the second and last time that I was arrested. Even after this arrest I continued smoking drugs and when I went back to school after the holidays I continued using drugs, even on the school premises.

Despite getting caught several times, I was able to remain in school for the rest of the year and my mother then took me to a ‘rehab’ at the end of the school year. My mother had to pay R20 000 for me to stay in this rehab for only 2 weeks! A day after leaving I was smoking drugs again!

In January my mother decided to take me to the Concerned Community. I didn’t want to go but I thought that if I did this to please her, she would then allow me to return to school. After beginning to bring all the wrong things i had done into the light, I realized that the problem I had went far deeper than just using drugs and being involved with girls.

I had a longing for something that would fill the gap I felt in my life and that would heal the pain that had been created when I had witnessed my father swearing at my mother and beating her. This pain had grown to bitterness and hate and I held a grudge against my father.

The Lord had mercy on me and forgave me and I realized that drugs had just been a symptom of a far deeper problem. To this day I am thankful to the Lord. I sing hymns of joy for what He has done in my life and you who are reading this could also give Him a chance to do something for you. Not only will your life be changed, but you can then begin to make a difference in the lives of others.

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