Loyiso Basso left a life of drugs and gangs to open a restaurant

Loyiso Basso opened a small restaurant two years ago in Makhaya, Khayelitsha.
Loyiso Basso opened a small restaurant two years ago in Makhaya, Khayelitsha.
Image: GroundUp/Velani Ludidi

Loyiso Basso left a life of drugs and crime after he realised he was wasting his life and making his mother suffer. The 30-year-old opened a restaurant in Makhaya, Khayelitsha, in Cape Town. It has been running for two years.

Pamela Mkhabela, a neighbour, said: “People used to be so scared of him [Basso], but now he is a sweet child, with respect. He is also passing his experience to young children, so they do not do what he did in the past.”

Basso said he had struggled to find a job because of his criminal record, so he started cleaning people’s yards in 2015 to raise capital. “I had to convince people that I am changed, and I did not blame them for closing their door in my face. I deserved it,” he said.

“I charged R250 for cleaning a yard and painting, depending on how big the house was. I was also washing windows.”

Money started coming in.

“I had a passion for cooking and I am good in the kitchen. I first bought a gas stove and other items, like pots, for my kitchen … I started selling pap and chakalaka. Business was good and people were buying. I would be asked to join catering teams whenever there was an event in the area,” he said.

Basso opened his small restaurant, Mgoli’s Corner, in an RDP house. He uses his back room as a kitchen and serves lunch and dinner. Mgoli is his nickname.

He gained the community’s trust and started to add more items to his menu. His bunny chows, known as kota in the township, became popular. He stuffs them with fries, fried egg, lettuce, cucumber and a sausage (R15) or burger (R20).

“Today, I help around the house with groceries and I have not touched drugs for years,” said Basso.

Encouraging young people, Basso says: “There is no dustbin for a person … Young people, swallow your pride and do something positive with your lives. If there is still air that flows in and out of your body, it means there is still a purpose for you in this world.”

This article was first published by GroundUp.

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