Ex-gangster takes scoop at new life in ice-cream van

01 April 2016 - 02:44 By Aarti J Narsee

Sipho* went from being one of the most hardened criminals in Cape Town to driving The Soft Machine, a gourmet ice-cream truck.He is part of Gangstar Enterprises, a company officially launched yesterday that provides employment opportunities to former offenders who have graduated through a programme run by the Message Trust, a Christian charity.The enterprise runs three businesses: The Soft Machine; Gangstar Furniture, which makes creative merchandise using discarded wood; and clothing outfit Gangstar Gear.As a teenager in Guguletu, Sipho envied neighbourhood gangsters because of their flashy cars and fancy clothes."I somehow looked up to these guys. I started hanging around these guys. I started stealing cars just for entertainment," he said.He ended up in prison and when he was released five years later he graduated to cash-in-transit heists."I attained recognition, gained popularity."In 2002, he and his friends were nabbed after attempting a heist.He did his time in Pollsmoor."I was regarded as a high-profile criminal. I joined the 26s gang because there was no way out. I thought to myself that it was better to die."But his thinking changed when he met a pastor in prison and when Sipho was released he felt he was a "changed man" because he had found God."But I couldn't get any job. Once the question comes, 'do you have a criminal record?' then I knew it is going to be a big no."Now I am giving back. I mentor young men who were in prison just like myself."..

There’s never been a more important time to support independent media.

From World War 1 to present-day cosmopolitan South Africa and beyond, the Sunday Times has been a pillar in covering the stories that matter to you.

For just R80 you can become a premium member (digital access) and support a publication that has played an important political and social role in South Africa for over a century of Sundays. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.