Ex-South African Gangster Hopes His Museum Will Keep Youths from Following In His Footsteps

Social entrepreneur Wandisile Nqeketho was a gangster before starting his nonprofit, 18 Gangster Museum. In an effort to curb crime and keep young South African boys out of gangs, Nqeketho hopes that his museum will educate youngsters about the horrors of the crime world.

According to CCTV Africa, children as young as 12 join gangs and start a life of crime primarily because there are so few economic options. The Khayelitsha township, where the nonprofit is based, has had a rampant gang problem for years.

During a profile for CCTV Africa, Nqeketho told the outlet that it is his goal to serve as an alternative for young boys trying to avoid a life in gangs. “So we wanted something that would have a long lifespan and that would not only act as a medicinal tool but act as a preventive tool,” he said.

The museum offers vivid accounts of gang life, including the inner workings of the prison system. It also shows the detrimental affect gang crime has on families.

Additionally, he wants the museum to be a safe haven for older gangsters to find meaningful and legal employment in Cape Town.

“If you don’t go to school, [former gangsters] can take different choices,” Nqeketho stated. “They can become entrepreneurs. They can become painters and so forth. For me, if the museum can channel to such directions and not the more negative choices, [we] can see young people get more prosperous.”


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