Cape Town - Award-winning musician Nathi Mankayi went back to prison but this time he went to motivate inmates.
The artist, who shot to fame in 2015 with his song Nomvula, visited Pollsmoor Correctional Centre on Wednesday and spoke to offenders.
Mankayi told the inmates that he was raised by his mother and as a teenager he wanted to look like his peers.
“I started smoking and hanging out with a bad crowd and then found myself in prison. I kept going back until I decided I didn’t want that life anymore. I wanted a fresh start, and music is what gave me hope when I was in prison.
“The last time I was arrested I did a lot of introspection and told myself that when I get out I will focus on bettering my life. God helped me through it, I entered a competition and then I got discovered.”
The Afropop singer said he had been visiting prisons even after he achieved fame.
“It’s important that I go back to where I came from and motivate people who are where I used to be and tell them that there is life after prison.
“Sometimes prisoners lose hope, but when they see someone like me who has been there, it’s easy for them to take control of their lives.
“Before we had the lockdown, I would go to prisons but then I stopped. I am now starting that again.”
The singer told the inmates that smoking was the gateway to crime.
“When you don’t have money, how will you get money for the cigarette? The solution is robbery, which is what I was in prison for – I served eight years. It was not nice to not have the freedom to go outside and that you had rules that were followed. I was reminded that I was a prisoner every day.”
Inmate Zanele Dlokovu said she was moved by what Mankayi said.
“After listening to that, I have decided to clean up my act. I have been in and out of prison. My child is growing without me.
“I am due to go home very soon and I will go back as a rehabilitated person and have the book club that I have been thinking about.
“I appreciate what Nathi did for us, and that he could come to us.”