Social entrepreneur Wandisile Nqeketho was not gangster before starting the 18 Gangster Museum. As a youngster growing up in gang-riddled Khayelitsha, and watching friends nearly lose their lives to gangsterism, Nqeketho took it upon himself to create an NPO dedicated to reforming gangsters and providing opportunities for them to work for positive change in their communities.
Now, Wandisile Nqeketho, Siyabulela Daweti and Athenkosi Mongo – all products of The Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development – who now run a successful cleaning business together, are using the stories of former gangsters to keep children out of gangs and educate people on the lifestyle.
Boys as young as 12 join gangs primarily due to the severe lack of economic options and for a sense of belonging. 14-year-old children are being arrested on gang-related murder charges, and in 2013, 12% of murders were gang-related – 86% higher than 2012.
“18 Gangster Museum will pre-emptively mitigate gang affiliation through education. It will be curated by ex-gangsters and the museum will provide reformation for ex- gangsters by offering them a second chance to give back to their community and educate future generations about the consequences of gangsterism.”, said Nqeketho.
Currently the trio are operating a mobile museum while they raise funds for a permanent exhibition. They received R250 000 from the SAB Foundation after winning an entrepreneurial pitch competition and are otherwise self-funding the project.
“We have been around the different townships of the Western Cape like Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Manenberg and Hanover Park that are rife with gangsterism and we were well received by the community”.
18 Gangster Museum has formed a partnership with Iziko museum in Cape Town, and will be hosting their newest exhibition in Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha from 9 to 11 December 2016. The exhibition this year includes a replica prison with ex-inmates as well as insight into gangs in Cape Town through live, interactive exhibits.
So far, 18 Gangster Museum has reformed 25 gangsters, held eight exhibitions, two open dialogue events, book donation events and hosted a reading competition in Khayelitsha.
“If we want to create a gang free society – a safe society – we must start developing the young with good quality education. Start skilling them at a tender age that lowers the chances of having to see them going to gangs,” said Daweti.
Find out more about the 18 Gangster Museum.