Growing up I didn’t have many friends, apart from my family. Other people didn’t seem to like me much for some reason. Kids my age seemed to despise me – unless I had something good going.

For example, for a while I had plenty of loose change at my disposal. My grandparents from my father’s side had a bit of money and they would give me pocket money. I would go share it with others. That bought me a couple of friends. But later, when for some reason the money from my paternal grandparents dried up, life took a rather nasty turn. I became a loner with nobody to play with.

I realised in those early years of primary school that you can lose money chasing after friends but you’ll never lose friends chasing after money. I sat down and thought it through. I needed to get my hands on some cash. I didn’t want to join a gang but it seemed like the only option.

Technically I was initiated into a gang while I was still in primary school when I ‘pulled my deed’. I was assigned to the task of breaking into a security guard’s house. We called him Uncle Isaac (although my grandmother told us that was not his real name). He happened to be a good neighbour to my granny. I went in through his window at night and stole his work gun while he was sleeping. I was alone and pretty scared but when I heard the sound of Uncle Isaac snoring I knew I was in the clear. I took the gun to the older gang members. But that wasn’t enough. They told me I had to go and rob Jamza’s supermarket which was literally five houses from my grandma’s house. They would come with me as back-up.

It turned out that their guns were loaded – mine was unloaded. The shop owner wasn’t at the till; he must have been in the back. We were lucky. The guys shot off a couple of rounds in the air as a warning and I took the money. My heart was pounding in my chest the whole time.

It was only later in the day when I got my ink that I realised how lucky we had been to not get caught. I agreed to help move their drugs around the neighbourhood and I didn’t ask questions. I was the delivery guy of parcels with different sizes and smells. But I didn’t want to be in a gang after that day in the store. As long as they looked out for me on the streets, and protected me from harm’s way, that was enough. It was later that I really saw how bad gang life could get.


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