‘I was in prison for 4 months’: Orlando Pirates star

An Orlando Pirates star has shared his inspiring story of transformation, revealing a past marked by incarceration and a remarkable journey to professional football.

There's often a disconnect when successful people share stories of past wrongdoings. It can be hard to reconcile their achievements with their prior actions.

Pirates' Deon Hotto revealed in the Bucs Camp Documentary that his life wasn't always straightforward. He dropped out of school in Grade 10 and fell in with the wrong crowd, leading to a period of criminal activity that resulted in a four-month jail sentence.

HOW DEON HOTTO ENDED UP IN JAIL?

“I'm the last born of six siblings. My mother passed away in 1999. So my father took us all in and he was actually [like] our mother and yeah, just my father is still alive,” he explained.

“My father was a bus driver for Rossing uranium mine and he did manage to give us a decent life. I dropped out of Grade 10, when I left school, I started hustling, selling sweets, chocolates, chips. 

“But I was hanging out with bad influence friends who were all doing the same sh*t. We used to grab people's phones during night time, breaking into cars, up to a point where I went to prison for four months in 2012. 

“I remember that night we took a guy's phone, and we ran. (It was) so funny a lady who stays two houses behind us said to me that night, ‘Everything you do in the night will come out in the day'

“You won't believe but the next morning the cops showed up to our house and they said they were looking for Deon. When I got into the cells, I saw my other friends were there as well. While I was in prison, I always remember that lady saying (how) it doesn't matter what you do in the night, it comes out during the day.”

While reaching professional football is undeniably challenging, some players stumble upon opportunities even when they aren't actively seeking them. Hotto is one of those, his path to football success was marked by a fortunate turn of events.

When he came out of prison, he received an invitation from his cousin to play in a local “Kasi” tournament. There, his talent was fortunately recognised by a scout. He went on to play for Swakopmund FC, Blue Boys and African Stars in Namibia before signing for South African club Golden Arrows.

He then turned out for Bloemfontein Celtic and Bidvest Wits prior to joining his current club Pirates.

‘THAT’S WHERE EVERYTHING CHANGED’

“When I came out of prison. My father said he's gonna send me to the capital city with his brother. I went to live in Windhoek with my uncle,” he added.

“A cousin of mine came to me and he said to me how we're having a ‘Kasi' tournament and so l went to play. I was fortunate, one of the biggest teams in Namibia, their manager was there. He saw me playing the tournament. 

“He said he wants to sign me, so for me, that's where everything changed in 2013. I got a national team call-up and Sis' Mato Madlala sent her daughter to come and watch a player called Hendrick Soaeb so that player was injured, so the national team coach called me in because the guy was injured, and I got the nod to start.

“When I started the game I did a great game. Nonceba [Madlala] asked the national team coach who the player is wearing [the] number 11.

“That's where everything changed. I came to South Africa to Golden Arrows in 2014. My career started at Golden Arrows, after Golden Arrows I went to (Bloemfontein) Celtic and after that I went to (Bidvest) Wits and then I ended up at Orlando Pirates where I’m enjoying my football. 

“So for me, it was a privilege to sign a contract with Orlando Pirates. It was like a dream come true.”

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Nkosiyabuya Sithole

Nkosiyabuya Sithole, a young and rising sports journalist based in Durban, South Africa, harbors a deep passion for football. Nevertheless, he aspires to become a well-rounded journalist, adept in various areas of the field.

Nkosi's career began in 2020, working as a home-based writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since written for various websites, including Briefly News, FiND-iT News, and The South African. Attending live sporting events is a particular pleasure for him, as they provide opportunities for interaction with sports personalities.

Outside of the office, he's a God-fearing and affable young man.