Gangstar Stories

The Gangstar story…

Our Beginnings

Gangstar Café was born out of The Message Trust South Africa, an NGO focused on breaking the cycle of poverty by focussing on youth at risk, both in and out of prison.

Gangstar Café is an holistic approach to working with at risk young men, providing mentorship, skills development and job opportunities, giving them purpose and an opportunity to provide for their families. This has allowed our Gangstars to become functional members of society whilst sharing their life changing stories with those wanting an excellent cup of coffee.

Our Vision

At Gangstar Café we are all about growing our potential to impact as many lives as possible, both the lives of our Gangstars, as well as those who are touched by their stories. 

In order to do this, Gangstar Café is constantly looking at opportunities to expand.



Meet our Gangstars



I made many wrong decisions in the past, I was illiterate and I thought I was stupid. I carried this secret as a child and regretted being born, even trying to commit suicide as I did not want to live. 

In 2012 I was arrested for drug trafficking and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. It was in prison where I decided to accept Jesus Christ into my life. It was the best decision I ever made.

When I was released from prison I contacted The Message Trust and they later employed me at Gangstar Café. I am now a trained barista and have been able to learn new skills and share my story with many people. My long term vision is to set up a community programme to mentor and provide opportunities for young people in the township where I live.

Watch Shepherd’s story here. 


When I was younger, I used to think hope is for other people, not for me. I would look at the madness around me and say to myself, “Is this all there is to life?”

I grew up in Samora, Cape Town, where I spent my youth as a part of a gang. We would smoke drugs and abuse alcohol, to the point where I was unrecognisable, even to myself. I was arrested for being in possession of a firearm. After nine months in prison I made some critical life decisions that altered where I was heading. The main one was accepting Jesus as my personal saviour.

When I left prisonI started working at the Gangstar Café. I’ve been trained as a barista and have progressed to be a junior manager. I love to tell my story about how God changed my life.

Watch Xola’s story here. 



When I was a teenager, I became heavily addicted to drugs, which lead me to dropping out of school, bad influences and the need to provide finances for my drug habit. As a result I turned to gangsterism and crime, which ultimately landed me in prison in 2016.

Prison became the first turning point in my life. I no longer wanted to be addicted to the drugs that put me there. This change in mindset encouraged me to take part in church services in prison which eventually lead me to meeting Jesus, making the long term commitment to turn my life around through his strength.

After being released, I attended The Message Trust’s reintegration program where they later connected me with Gangstar Café. I had always dreamed of being in hospitality, which motivated me to work as hard as I could, resulting in my being at the top of my class at the barista training course I attended.

My life is now focused on change, being my own personal testimony to myself as well as offering the same encouragement to others. I dream of one day owning my own Gangstar Café.