Evangelist recounts horrific gangster lifestyle before conversion

Reformed gangster, Leon Jacobs, sharing the Word of God on the street.(PHOTO: Supplied)

“God is still in the business of changing and transforming lives,” says Leon Jacobs, a former member of the 26s gang, whose grisly life prior to his conversion in 2010 sounds like a Stephen King novel.

Jacobs, now an evangelist, was recently a featured guest on the Radio Tygerberg programme, Draaipunt, and he spoke to Gateway News this week.

Jacobs began his radio interview by describing the barbaric and brutal rape and murder of an ex-girlfriend who was hijacked and died after a broomstick was shoved down her throat and vagina. He was wrongly arrested for the crime in 1998 and spent two years and eight months in jail awaiting trial before he was released when a court found no evidence of his involvement. A month after his release he was involved in armed robbery and was imprisoned again. Jacobs said that while in prison he discovered that three gangs were operating there. He met so-called “high-flyers” who promised to be his suppliers. “But, even then, God had a plan for my life, according to Jeremiah 29:11,” he added.

During the radio interview Jacobs confessed that the building located next to the radio station was where he had conducted most of his trade as a drug dealer. “I was making R5 000 to R6 000 per day in the Parow/ Goodwood area [of Cape Town],” he said and publicly asked for forgiveness. “Today I want to ask for forgiveness from everyone listening to the sound of my voice to whom I may have sold drugs, especially those still struggling to get a hold of their life as a result of it.” In her reply, the interviewer stated that there was forgiveness but also restitution to which Jacobs responded: “God’s plan is never to rescue you and leave you. He wants you to make an impact. He will be with you as you go and make a difference as His ambassador. He gives us Godly insight.”

The final straw
The final straw for Jacobs came when gang fights erupted between the 26s and 28s gangs, driving him to use cocaine and then tik. When he realised that he was becoming bankrupt as a result of his drug usage he returned home to Mitchell’s Plain, only to discover that his brother was also on tik. Inevitably, they got into a fight and he stabbed his brother. “The devil gave me a picture of a ‘galley blik’ [fire drum with holes] and said I must stab him so that he looks like this ‘galley blik’.” He said that while he was stabbing his brother he heard another voice commanding him to stop. “Then I saw my brother lying in a pool of his own blood. He reached out his hand and called my mother and told her to tell me that all will be ok and died.” Jacobs then called the police who arrested him. He was given bail shortly after appearing in court the Monday after the stabbing.

As a result of the murder, he couldn’t sleep because of nightmares. “Strong alcohol didn’t help. It was like drinking water,” Jacobs said. At this point, he decided to go to church and if that did not help, to commit suicide. However on a Saturday a friend invited him to go to Mitchell’s Plain town centre where they purchased half a gram of tik from a woman merchant. They used drugs the whole night and by the time he awoke the next morning his friend had left. He managed to get home and asked his mother to iron a shirt for him. “My mother still begged me not to make a mockery of God but at church I had an encounter with Jesus and my life was never the same. When you encounter Jesusyour life can never be the same,” Jacobs explained.

Serving God with other former gangsters
“Today I am an evangelist called by Jesus, not blown off a bakkie or whistled to from a street corner, to proclaim the Gospel to many nations and peoples.” Jacobs was given a five year suspended sentence for his brother’s murder in 2010. In 2013, God gave him a prophecy for the woman merchant who had sold him and his friend tik. She was one of the biggest drug dealers in Mitchell’s Plein. A day later, there was a death in her family and Jacobs was approached to conduct the funeral service. During the service, the merchant had her own personal encounter with Jesus and surrendered her life to Christ. Soon afterwards a few of the gangsters who operated with her had their own encounter. Jacobs concluded his radio testimony saying: “Today we are all serving the Lord together,” proving, as the interviewer so rightly put it, that “No one is too good or too bad that Jesus cannot save them.”

Speaking to Gateway News, Jacobs said he always quotes Acts 26 – King Agrippa’s response to Apostle Paul’s testimony – when he ministers. “God is using me to impact South Africa because people can relate to my story. It makes people realise that there is hope.” He relates as an example the testimony of a mother in Bonteheuwel who purchased a DVD he produced in 2011. “She had a son, Mark, who was also a tik user. One day he came home on a high and decided to watch some television and played the DVD. His mother found him crying in the lounge and he gave his life to Christ. I met Mark when he introduced himself to me at a Youth Jam on the 16th of June this year.”

Jacobs’ DVD can be purchased from Rachel Skippers at Radio Tygerberg or from him. He can be contacted on: 076 104 3538 or 061 981 4995.


  1. Renny Peasnell

    Awesome, I must get his dvd. God can use all of us.

  2. Wow brother! Wow! That all is sooo awesome! God is sooo awesome! He does deserve all the glory forever! I am very happy for you and all the others that gave themselves to Christ. Beautiful!

    • Hi paul this is evangelist leon jacobs,pls pray for us because God save us with a very good reason

  3. Hallelujah Praise be to God. Yes your test becomes your testimony. A true testimony saves the cripple. God bless and just continue with the work of God.