Dean Daniels (54) grew up in a neighbourhood in Durban where drugs and gangsters are part of everyday life.
He joined a gang when he was only 14 years old.
“Where I grew up it was normal to be part of a gang at a young age.
“Peer pressure definitely played a role. All the gangsters asked me why I was not part of a gang,” said Dean.
He started off with dagga and later used Mandrax and cocaine.
His parents moved to a different area with the hope that it will end Dean’s involvement in gangs, but he just joined another gang in the new area.
He was only 15 years old when he became a father for the first time. He has five more children by different women.
Dean worked with his father as a boilermaker.
He was in his 40s when he decided to quit the gangs, drugs and alcohol abuse.
He saw many of his friends being brutally murdered.
They were either stabbed or shot to death.
“There must be a reason why I am still alive today,” said Dean.
“I was in hospital many times with serious injuries during my gangster years.
“I was also involved in violent crimes,” Dean confessed.
He was determined to quit using drugs and stayed indoors for three months.
One of his ex-girlfriends supported him and helped him to quit.
Dean became a born-again believer in Jesus Christ when one of his friends died and Dean decided to re-assess his own life.
“I had encounters with guys I knew were very bad and who had then completely changed. – it made me think about my life.
“I was thinking: I am 54 years old and still alive, how many more chances do I need from God?
“I decided I don’t want to live the life I used to live anymore.”
He now lives at God’s Fire Ministries in Secunda and is seeking a job as boilermaker.
Dean is in the process of changing his life and still carries the consequences of the bad choices he had made.
“Four of my six children are not even talking to me because of the way I was living,” said Dean.
There is also still a case of shoplifting against him as he stole food from a supermarket two years ago.
“Things at home were tough, my mother, sister and her two children stayed in one house and everyone was unemployed.
“There was no food in our house.”

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