A 17-year-old orphaned boy from Chris Hani location near Bloemfontein says he did not let poverty drive him to crime.
Thapelo Nkgwedi now has a school uniform and furniture after the Mangaung metro municipality and Victorious Faith Ministry heard of his plight.
He told The New Age that since his parents died due to HIV-Aids 12 years ago, he and his sister have struggled to survive alone.
“Even though we did not have anything to eat in the house, I never thought of going to rob people in order to get money. I used to pray like my mother told me to.
“I would like to advise my fellow teenagers to avoid peer pressure.
“Do not commit crime because of an empty stomach or to get fancy clothes, there is still life without committing crime because you will end up in jail,” Nkgwedi said.
He has been living alone in his dilapidated shack after his sister left him.
“God answered my prayers, my life is no longer the same. Had I been involved in gangs and committing crime I would have been dead or in jail.
“Thanks to Mangaung metro mayor Olly Mlamleli and pastor Andries November for changing my life.”
Neighbours have been helpful to the teenager, who is a Grade 11 pupil at Hodisa Technical School, but most days the only meal he has is at school, which is part of the school’s feeding scheme.
“I wrote a letter to Mlamleli requesting only the Christmas clothes and a school uniform, but I got more than that, furniture and a shelter from the municipality.”
Mlamleli urged teenagers to be strong and positive like Nkgwedi.
“Despite poverty and the situation that he is living in, he is a fighter. He continued to attend school and kept on succeeding to higher grades,” Mlamleli said.