In a shantytown on the edges of Johannesburg, South Africa, 19-year-old Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae
) has repressed any memory of his past, including his real name: "Tsotsi" simply means "thug" or "gangster" in the street language of the ghetto.
Orphaned at an early age, Tsotsi has lived a life of extreme social and psychological deprivation. One night, after an alcohol-fueled evening at a local bar, he steals a BMW from the affluent suburbs of the city. As he races away in the car, he realizes there’s a three-month-old baby crying in the back. Tsotsi loses control of the vehicle and crashes to a stop on the verge of a deserted road. The car is a write-off.
Tsotsi staggers from the vehicle and walks away, but is drawn back by the screaming baby. Suddenly, he gathers up the infant, shoves it into a large shopping bag and heads for the shantytown on foot, determined to take care of “his baby.” He finds a young widow with a baby to help him and as their relationship tentatively progresses, Tsotsi is compelled to confront his own violent nature and to reveal his past.
Based on the novel by Athol Fugard.