The Story of Sabbath Prince Gxubane

A gun goes off. An eight-year-old boy loses his father as do his seven other siblings. A
wife loses her husband. A family loses their sole provider. One life lost. Nine lives
changed forever. The story of Sabbath Prince Gxubane is not a football story. It’s
much more important than that.

BANG

 

Hout Bay United’s marketing and sales department is
where life has brought him, but his journey to get here only he can tell.

Life was good…Well, where to start. I’m 25 years old. I was the fourth child of eight
but being the first boy born to my mother and father, I was given the name Prince. I
was born in Durban, in a place called Bluff, but we moved to Merebenk. I first
attended St Mary’s Primary school and then on to Bushlands Primary school in
Durban. Life was good.

I was growing up in a very well-to-do suburb in Durban. We
stayed in a beautiful apartment complex. Life was normal.

One Gunshot Changes Everything

 

My father passed away in 2006, I was eight years old. He left behind seven children,
with the eighth one on the way. My mom was pregnant when they killed him. He was
shot. I can say wrongfully shot. He did nothing wrong. They shot him. Dead. He died
on the scene. In an instant life became very hard. We had to relocate to rural areas. I
moved from Merebenk to Ixopo and had to change my school. My dad was the bread
winner of the family. Now he was gone. My mom at the time was not working as she
was looking after seven of us with one on the way. By odd jobs & God’s grace My
mom started doing odd jobs here and there, whatever she could do to put food on the
table. By God’s grace my mom, Maureen, through saving what he could, slowly put
together a house for us. I literally saw builders slowly put it up brick by brick as she
paid them over some months. We had a home of our own again. Living off UIF
(unemployment insurance fund) money and some small grants, we tried to survive.
She is so strong. (Prince pauses and his eyes glisten. A sense of pride and awe
remembering what his mother did for him). So, we had a home, but I wasn’t happy at
all. To go from a perfect life and have that change in a heartbeat. If he was sick and
we knew he was going to a better place, that would have been easier to accept. But
he was so alive! One day here, the next just gone. Just like that.

Years of Grief

 

Life went on. I grieved every day of my primary and high school career. I matriculated
in 2016. In that same year my sister passed away. A sudden illness and she was
gone. Guidance was her name. We will never forget her. I went to university in
January 2017. We didn’t really have any money for that but my sisters before me, all
three had been through university or a tertiary learning facility of some sort, and they
had carved the way. My second elder sister (Holly) helped me apply for grants. I was
able to get the necessary funding by June of 2017, and then was able to register but I
was studying already that time with no funds to cover my stay and tuition fees. It was a
mission of my mom to give us all a proper education. (Five of Maureen’s children have
a tertiary qualification today, two are still in High School). 

I moved onto the University campus, and I began my National diploma in Sport Management. I have a passion for managing and marketing sports teams and I’m very interested in providing athletes with psychology resources to help them deal with life and the stresses of sport. This was my path. My first year was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Balancing life and studying, more especially just trying to live with very little money in that environment was tough. I wasn’t just studying, I was surviving. I was applying for a lot of jobs to help sustain myself while studying. I almost dropped out a tone stage! I was never going to ask my mother to send more money. I told myself I have to be strong, I have to be a man at the end of the day and I had young siblings my mom had to support at that time.

What Kept Me Going

 

What kept me going was that I had a vision. I knew I had to obtain a qualification,
something that would last a lifetime, that nobody could take from me, you understand.
In 2018 I did my driver’s license and then started applying for driving jobs. I went to an
interview with a company. They put me through some driving tests, and they were like,
right you start Monday full-time. I was like yho! Here is an opportunity to earn money for
me and my mother, but it meant dropping out of my studies. And I played it forward and
could see there was no growth in just driving. I wanted a career, a path to follow and to
grow. I continued studying and I even managed to do a first aid certificate in 2020. I
graduated May 2021. It felt like a huge journey completed, as I knew my mom was
counting on me to get through because of everything she had sacrificed for me. After
graduating I took a job immediately in aware house. Two-month contract. Stocktaking
from 8am to 5pm every day. But once that was done, I had to move back to my rural
home because I had been staying on campus and now that had come to an end.

There were no opportunities I got home, but I didn’t sit down and wait. I had to
progress. I had to hustle. There weren’t really any opportunities for what I had studied
at home, but I applied for an English teacher position at a local primary school and got a
three-month contract. I was making progress. After the three months were up, I decided
to come to Cape Town to see if there was more opportunities. I had uncles in Cape
Town, and they operated taxis. I called and explained to them that if there was an
opportunity to drive one of their taxis while I looked for work that fitted in with my
qualification that I would be grateful. They told me to come.

Driving ‘Amaphelas’ For a Living

 

So, I’m in Cape Town. I’m driving ‘amaphela’ (Amaphela means ‘cockroach’ in
isiXhosa but became synonymous with small informal taxi services in a designated
area with no fixed routes. Think township Uber). Everyday driving. Monday to Sunday.
Here I was, I had studied, I had a qualification, and I was up and, on the road, driving
a taxi from 6am untill 7pm every day. Staying in IY (Imizamo Yethu) in a shack. Things
were not how I thought they would be. But, driving every day I did see and take notice
of the Hout Bay United teams training every day. Having a sport management degree,
I thought maybe there is a chance. I went to their offices one day with the intention of
seeing a hiring manager or even the owner to have a chat and see if maybe there was
something. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the hiring manager, but I did drop my CV
there. I didn’t think it would amount to anything because they must get CVs dropped
off every day.

Fate Smiles on Me

 

Days went by and nothing. Then one day I stopped on the side of the road to pick up
someone who was signaling for a taxi and in got Jeremy (Jeremy Elson co-founder of
HBUFC) and I drove him from his house to the soccer field. After about three or four of
these trips over the next few weeks I asked him what he was doing watching this
football team and he told me about the Hout Bay United project. On hearing he was
involved I told him about my qualification and how I had left a CV but heard nothing. I
explained I had no experience but all the theory. He seemed interested and asked me
questions and I could understand that he must get people asking him for jobs all the
time. Looking back, he could probably sense my happiness just to be having a sport
conversation with someone. He took my number and said he would let me know if an
opportunity came up. I wanted his number, but he was like, “no, I’ll call you.” I
understood and thought then that maybe he was just being nice you know. Hearing
Hearing me out. 

A few days later I got a text from him to come pick him up and drop him
off somewhere. This happened for a couple more weeks and I can say we really got to
know each other over those drives. I really enjoyed those conversations. Little did I know
that this was just like one big job interview. It shows you how each interaction you have
with a person, even a stranger is so important. One day we were driving, and he gave me
a chance, a job offer. I jumped at it. Another step forward. I was going to work in the
marketing and sales department for HBUFC! I couldn’t believe it. I started last December
and have been here almost one year now. I’m still learning. Sales is new to me. It’s a
special talent. I still know I’m going to learn more. My average workday I’m in the Dream
Factory office by 8:30am. I start making sales calls for FTIFA (Fleetwood Town
International Football Academy) basically selling professional academy experiences to
aspiring footballers. I create leads, qualify leads, check passports from out of country
applicants, see if they have funds to qualify. I have over 1000 FTIFA contacts on my
WhatsApp! I face a lot of rejection (laughs). But that’s ok. I say thank you and move on to
the next one. I’ve already sold about 15 FTIFA packages! Not bad, I think. I also assist
with transport for HBUFC whenever they need me. I bought my own car from the money
made from driving taxis. I now live in a safe modern apartment in Hout Bay. And this all
thanks to HBUFC giving me chance. 

HBUFC are creating an employment hub for the Hout Bay community. It’s not just about football. It’s about community. We’re changing people’s lives. Soccer gives the kids hope. Just having something to look forward to if you’re a kid in the township can help steer you away from the bad things. It’s not about football. It’s about a path, a way. My dad would be proud, I think…To this day I can’t get over what happened to my dad. I’m trying to be strong. But the injustice of him being shot lives with me daily. I’ve never told anyone this, but maybe it helps someone reading this who has suffered similar or had a great loss. Sometimes if I do something for a long period, I get confused and overwhelmed. I struggle to block out thoughts of my dad while focusing on a task and sometimes mentally my mind goes blank. It’s dark. I can’t control it. I must go outside and breathe. I refocus and then get on with it. But it’s okay to grieve. It’s normal. Is my dad proud of me? I think he is. Wherever he is, he would be proud and I promise to make him more proud.

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