Motebang Masitha

Founders, Philippi Brotherhood Project

Motebang Masitha is a young ex-offender who now runs an organisation called Philippi Brotherhood Project in his own neighbourhood for young men and boys in gangs. He has been an ambassador for Young In Prison South Africa’s Siyakhana programme and has travelled to prisons in the Netherlands to facilitate and teach other young people about the risks of being in a gang and life in prison. He’s also been participating in community works with the City of Cape Town. Being moved from prison to prison in the Western Cape, Motebang managed to finish his matric inside prison and throughout his time there wrote poetry. His life changed after prison when he realised the need for intervention in his community. The project he runs already hosts workshops in the community and schools to create awareness on issues such as domestic violence with other young men who have been along the same route as him. “My son inspires me to be the father I never had, and be a better man and a role model worth looking up to,” he says.

One of the biggest realisations Masitha made while behind bars was how prisons are so full of young black men. “I realised that crime and gangsterism, the abuse of drugs and alcohol by youth and broken families and communities are more like a culture to us than a problem. These things form part of the lives we live; directly or indirectly they affect everybody, but very few people want to get involved. I saw myself in everybody’s story, and by so doing started on a journey of self discovery and realisation. That is why today I spend my days not just inspiring or motivating the youth to rise above their circumstances but in their own way, make the world a better place for all.”

Masitha is now also a qualified pastry chef, after receiving a bursary to study at False Bay College in Muizenberg, and has worked in hotels and guest houses in Cape Town. Because of the ex-offender tag, getting work is a struggle — these struggles led him to start the Philippi Brotherhood project.

“My message to the youth out there is for them to not let their mistakes, downfalls or shortcomings define their realities. Everybody has a purpose or a role to play in this life — find it and live it.”

— Aaisha Dadi Patel

Twitter: @PhilippiBrotherhoodProject