THREE MONTHS IN SUNCITY. – 1995.
March. Tue 7th. Noon to 13h00, arrested at bank after warren pretended to call for money. Two uniformed cops from Booysens Police Station, then two black uniformed cops, and then two white fraud detectives from syndicate fraud squad at 64 Pritchard Street, 7th floor. One called Warrant Officer Goosens, and the other whose name I did not learn. After taking me to their offices, and having my rights read to me, Goosen asked me to write some sample words and numbers, and then took me to John Vorster Square – after midnight. I booked in my money and bag and got a coke from the coke machine – R.3, 30. I was shown to a cell and the door left open. No one else was in the cell, and there was a good mat and clean blankets. No running water to drink, or flush toilets. I did a lot of heavy thinking through the night, but did get enough sleep. I was invited to use the phone when I arrived, but not the next morning.
Wednesday 8th. I asked several times between 07h00 and 09h00, but got a chance at 07h30 to call —, but he was not in yet – no answer. At +/- 09h00 Dect. Ces Mashego and young const. Lessing – with a white streak in his black crew cut, and I think one earring – not very bright. Mashego was impatient and bad mannered. He was reluctant to let me take my belongings and money – saying that I would be back.. He was also reluctant to allow me to phone, and started swearing at me. However I did manage to phone — from the Charge Office with Mashego leaning over my shoulder preventing me from giving the full story, but I did manage to ask for legal help. Then drove to 64 Pritchard Street, 7th floor where Warrant Officer Goosens was waiting. They gave me tea, and Goosens gave me some of his lunch sambos.
Goosens said he found an account (bank) in Midrand. I told him I had never used it. He said he thought he might find John Lee at Lee Motors. I completed some blank EPOL cheques using many writing styles, and left hand and right hand printing and writing – very confusing. Goosens said he had also found a Nedbank account and evidence of using a credit card – this was not true – he said he was trying to find an Allied Bank account at Morselebaai. Attorney Shapiro phoned to say he would come to represent me, and would meet me at court No.13. Incidentally my cell at J.V.S. was also No.13. After Goosens had made phone calls to other banks, and much paperwork we drove to J.V.S. where Goosens officially charged me with 3 counts of fraud. Then to the prosecutor at about 13h00. I gave all the statements in my possession to Shapiro. He said he would apply for bail in a day or two when he had more details. I asked him to keep — informed. Shapiro instructed me to be helpful, but make no more statements. At 14h30 I appeared in court, and was remanded in custody until 29th March.
Went back down to prison cells and waited for the Diepkloof prison truck to be taken to prison +/-25 min ride. I had quite a wrestling match on the way and lost my watch, small change and phone card in the struggle.
We all had to squat in lines of four as we approached the booking table, then were put into pens about 5m x 8m. I went into a pen which had several whites, but soon found one in particular did not like me – infact he was the instigator in the truck, and tried to kick me in the face twice – he missed both times. Two whites had influence on the guards eventually had me penned with +/- 40 blacks – most trying to intimidate me, but as we were all pretty new, they did not have many friends. I found that instant return threats were effective in combating body searches for money and valuables. The prison would not take custody of my open top briefcase which was of great concern to me. We were given a thick slice of brown bread – ¼ loaf, and slowly herded to our cells – squatting 4 wide was the method of herding. Two wide in narrow passages – I guess for easy counting. Quite a bit of shin kicking and face slapping for squatting out of line – I got my turn as was to be expected being the only “white”. +/- 6 whites who seemed to have been here a long time have some influence over the guards – this will eventually lead to conflict with me. Anyway I ended up in a cell with 20 blacks and no serious incident. I was still quite nervous, but slept well enough on concrete floor with 3 blankets – 2 under and 1 over. Then guys from the kitchen are time serving prisoners were selling bread for R.3, 00 / loaf and a plastic bag +/- 500ml of orange flavored granules with which to make a drink if you have a mug or plastic cup to make it in. There was running water in the cell – 2 x SS basins, one toilet seat and one urinal, about 100 blankets and 12 mats.
Thursday. 9th. Woke up early, I would guess 06h00, and were squat herded to the kitchen, about 60 m through various stop check doors. Breakfast was pap porridge and brown sugar with a slice of brown bread and a dab of treacle. Too hot to eat with a spoon with no handle. With no time to eat it we were squat herded to a waiting room to go to the doctor, which consisted of waiting to be weighed, waiting for the compliant room, then waiting for the doctor. I had complained of a cold coming on, and had the stethoscope test on back and chest, and was given a brown script for cough syrup and Grippon tabs – which I never got anyway. I enquired about phoning and were penned again for at least 11/2 hours, and taken 4 at a time to a phone where you told the guard a number and he phoned the number and told the answerer of your circumstances – I decided I did not need this. I was then squat herded to a cell – same one as the night before – to wait with about 40 black guys and one badly beaten white – the atmosphere was bad for me very threatening. I asked if I could sit with one black guy who turned out to be a well educated Zimbo called Thembo who said he was a chef at Randpark Ridge who had been accused of stealing supplies – he suspiciously asked me to join his cell, and explained the cell set-up to me (China and Tokyo). After lunch at 14h00 I decided to trust him. Lunch was squat herd to kitchen – tinplate pap, dop of pumpkin, no meat, boiled egg and tin cup of fruit juice – I could not eat it all and gave my bread away (bad mistake). Then herded to a cell again where I negotiated to join a permanent cell, which would need a bribe to the guard, and a request of the section chief – so I handed over R10 and it still needed a lot of maneuvering, but finally got into section C1, cell 11, and it was all worth while. China group was the oldest occupants and lead group. Tokyo was the second group at toilet end of the cell which is 6 beds long and 2 beds wide. If you have no or very little money you sleep on the concrete floor. R5 buys you a bed, mostly 2 high (double decker). I got single bed next to China, and good service, i.e. bed made up with sheets. There were 4 whites. Three had money and beds. The other one was servant to China for his bed on the floor. I got on well with the 8 – 10 China people. The cell can sleep 40, but is 27 at present. I believe sometimes up to 35. A bomb is made of 2 big spoons to make an element and tied with plastic bags, and connected to the light tube. It is immersed in a 2 3 liter plastic bowl with water and heats in +/- 7 minutes to make tea etc. I was politely made supper with treacle bread and 500ml tea. Quite OK. A blanket was put up over the toilet entrance and singing took place from say 18h00 to 20h00. There is a radio in the next building, and connected to a speaker in our cell – C1 – 11. China plays Chinese ludo a lot. The whites play draughts badly. I am comfortable here, and feel clear headed, and have revised my problem many times in my head. I have arranged for a phone card tomorrow, and hope I get a chance to phone, or get a visit from my lawyer. It is beginning to get boring. I am sure the set-up in this cell is as good as one can get. I have heard that no meat for lunch is the exception, and we should get meat from now on. I was 89kg at 10h00 this morning. I went to sleep (bed) about 10 – 11pm, but was kept awake by enthusiastic ludo games with luck-shouts as the two dice are thrown. Also I was kept awake by a small radio speaker, which was good music played softly – Brenda Facia was popular, and mostly black songs – “Please don’t go”. I had some some very bad thoughts through the night, including not seeing bubs again. All in all a bad night, just getting to sleep between 04h30 and 06h00 when China woke me up to prepare for inspection.
Friday 10th. +/- 06h00. Floor is swept by 3 – 4 prisoners who do not have money, and I polish the floor around my bed by means of felt pads under my shoes, and to fold up the blankets in an acceptable way. There is a way of folding the sheet around the blanket and placing it on the bed in such a way as it can be opened to have sheet and blanket ready for use. I cleaned my teeth with paste and finger, and washed the top half of my body in the sink-type basin. I had no shirt as the white servant Theo had washed it last night, and it was not quite dry, and he insisted on ironing it before he would give it back. He presses it by means of putting it in a blanket and stepping lightly on it on the concrete floor. My position is fairly secure here, although not in China. I am closest and can put my bag in China area – This guarantees no pilfering, and the servants treat me as though I am a China. The other four whites stay in their corner unless invited. About 09h00 the cell was let out for breakfast, with squat herding only when we got downstairs*. I did not mention that my cell C1-11 is on the second floor, although it seems the top, third floor is not occupied. The whole prison as I know it is divided into Reception, Admin, Hospital, and Doctor’s Rooms. Then the cell sections, with their own Kitchen and Medical Rooms. The standard cell is something like this:
When a prisoner comes from court, or the night before he goes to court he sleeps in other cells without beds. But otherwise the same number of 40 prisoners in this can be a nightmare, as they are all on the floor. To use the facilities which pack up in ½ hour is almost impossible. That is if they were working to start with.
Breakfast was a fast rough affair. We first go into one side of the kitchen which is benches only, and wait to queue for pap, milk and bread. Then go to the other half of the kitchen which has tables and benches. The plates of pap are thrown onto a counter under a slightly open (+/- 200mm) roll-up door. Sometimes the plates slide right off the counter onto the floor making a hell of a mess. The additions such as brown sugar and milk are very roughly dished out – sometimes missing the plate completely. You walk out into the yard when you have finished eating, and convicted criminals clean up the goddamned mess. I found a tap in the yard to try and get the food off me. I eat 1/3 to 1/2 of the helping of food, but I have seen some prisoners eat 3 helpings. The plan for today was to use a card phone situated near the kitchen to phone —. As I had lost my R.50 phone card in the prison truck, I managed to borrow one from Matsebela. The card-phone is in a lock-up room about 3m x 3m, and 8 or 9 people are allowed in at a time. But of course the phone is not working (the number is 942 1122 Johannesburg). However some prisoners were expecting calls (the phone was working for incoming calls) and I managed to grab one of these incoming calls and ask the caller to phone — and ask to phone me. The kind lady tried twice but eventually gave up – so that was that. I phoned telkom to report this number out of order, but it did not get fixed. I waited from 09h30 to 13h00 locked in this room hoping for the phone to fix itself.
There was a soccer game going on in the yard with 50 litre plastic drums as the goal posts. Our cell won 3 times and is therefore champ. I decided to ask the chief guard (The Chief) if I could go to another section to phone. He gave his permission, but the gate guard would not open the gate – so that was that. (I heard later that all card phones in the prison were out of order). There was still free time with all cells and doors in the section open, so I decided to explore, and get some exercise running up and down stairs. I saw probably a total of another 10 to 14 white prisoners, most of them looking pretty beat up, although some looked as though they were in control, at least for the time being. It is a sad place. One guy about 50 yrs old said his one daughter is on the Police Bomb Squad, the other is a guard in another prison, and another daughter is having a birthday tomorrow. I thought, and yes my daughter Pip is coming home soon from England, and I am sitting in jail. Won’t Pip be surprised to hear the news when she arrives home soon. But I also thought I would not have missed this for the world. It is an experience, I have often wondered about for as long as I can remember (Six munce ago I couldn’t even spell prisner, now I are one). And I have had a good few quiet laughs to myself. The sorriest lots are probably the guards. They know they have a lot of power, but not by themselves, only while they are in the system. Their work is even more propitious than the prisoners, and while the prisoners will get out sometime, the guards will probably not.
I had a short sleep of about 45 minutes before lunch – catching up from last night. Lunch was another eating on the run if you don’t slip in it affair. We had pap with gravy and a dollop of mashed pumpkin or squash and some very nice pieces of fish which looked a bit like, and tasted a bit like trout, but was not trout. There was also the customary ¼ loaf of bread which most take back to the cell for tea and supper around sunset time. I was again amazed by how much these people eat including whites. It has cost me R.110 so far for tea, extra tin for sugar and 2 R10 phone cards, and of course my privileged place in China. This expenditure should last another 5 days, and then I will have to dream up something else. Almost everything has to be paid for. For example apart from privilege and protection there is a shop at the prison which I have not been to yet. But you have to pay a guard to take you to the shop +/-R.2, 00. Or pay someone else to go to the shop with your money and buy for you. But you have to keep your money a secret also.
At the moment the Japanese (Tokyo) are complaining that I got my position without any benefit to them, but as it happens, it is out of Japanese control, although some Chinese compensation will be given to them. Being Friday the guards want to go home early so we were counted into our cells early, I would say 16h00.
I have noticed pictures from magazines stuck onto the walls are about soccer, boxing, fashion and the current Miss South Africa whose name I forget*. There is no sign of drugs except for tobacco and a little dagga. And no sign of homosexuality. Nobody reads or writes that I have seen yet, but draughts and ludo are popular with some prisoners. *Basetsane Makgalele. I went to sleep fairly early.
Saturday 11th. I woke up at 05h50 having had a good night sleep. The servants started sweeping the floor at 06h00, and I did the floor polish trick with the felt pads under the shoes again – This is actually good exercise, like cross country skiing, and gets the blood going quickly. Had more discussions with the Japanese (From Tokyo). They agreed with some persuasion to accept R.15, 00 and shut up for a long time – maybe a month. Tembo made tea for me, and we discussed the rest of the world. At about 08h00 we had cell inspection. One guard said in Afrikaans that if the cell can produce some newspapers, cigarettes for the guards there will be soccer today – if not no soccer. I have been told that the card phone is working again, and the two new R10, 00 cards will arrive this morning. One nice thing about being here is that I have not taken a syndol tablet for five days and have not missed them. Before I seemed to be taking them every day – this could be a blessing in disguise. We are now waiting for breakfast. Breakfast was the same thing. I sent my slice of bread back to the cell guard – one of the Chinas stay, and guard the cell during meals, or other times when the doors are left open.
I collected my notes and pen, and borrowed phone card (R.10, 00) and headed for the phone that was working again. However it was full +/- 18 people, and although most of them had finished and wanted to get out the guard would not let me in – just plain mean, and made me go up to the cell again. I asked Tembo what to do. The plan was to go out onto the walkway with felt pads and pretend to polish the floor near the stairway gate, and when the guard comes to open it for some other reason, try to talk my way through. This plan failed twice, until I realized I had a prescription for cold-caps in my pocket from the first day when I complained of a cold coming on. I changed my story to go to the dispensary – if you can call it that. To stand in line this is closer to the phone. Eventually from here I got a guard to take me to the phone room. He let +/- 5 prisoners out and myself + one in. This was about 10h45, and the room which I estimate to be 21/2 x 3m had 19 prisoners in it all fighting for the use of the phone. You could dial 0020 and arrange reverse charge calls – I knew that, or use the phone card.
The reverse charge calls were taking a long time, and sometimes 3 people would want to talk to the same number – it seems they have not yet caught onto my plan of getting anybody to phone your friend, and ask friend to phone you. I naturally suggested those with cards form a queue and phone first. As a show of good will I offered to stand last in this queue which was 6 or 7 people. Then it went quite quick. I decided to phone P. or L. W. as this would be direct without kids, and if not there would have an answering machine on, and I would be able to leave the whole message for — . I managed to talk to L. who I could tell snapped into gear immediately she heard my voice thank you L. Then after the reverse charge callers had made their calls we still had to wait another 35 to 45 minutes for the guard to come and let us all out at 13h40. This was 23/4 hours in a room with 18-19 to make one phone call which cost 30 cents.
For some reason the lunch queue had already started. I would guess this total queue would consist of 235 prisoners. I will try to count it accurately next time I get a chance. Actually it must be more as there are 14 cells, and my ell has 26, so 26 x 14 = 364. So it could be around 300 to 365. We had a plate of pap with boiled pork and gravy, and a good dollop of boiled and mashed red pumpkin, and a tin cup of artificial juice. It was good enough to eat. Also the slice of bread which I sent to the cell for supper; which is the custom with China. A fight broke out over a plastic bag which was taken from one prisoner by another. The reason is that it is used to carry scraps back to the cell for the poor prisoners to have for supper at about 20h00 to 20h30.
I thought I would wash my socks and knickers today while having a shower. The white servant offered to do my shirt and trousers, and another black China offered me a clean shirt and trousers while mine were being dried and pressed – I went for this. I had another incident of immediate return threat today after lunch when three really rough coloured / bushman types made comment on “waar is yo vingers” white trash” meaning me. I told the speaker that if he was looking for trouble he would get plenty from me, and that I would shove his coat down his throat and his friend’s boots up his arse. I passed them again in the yard, and they passed me without a murmur.
Back in the cell again about 16h00 I hear whispers that my privileged position close to China is being challenged from other cells i.e. cell 14 saying that cell 11 Chinas are wearing white rags etc. etc. I have learned that I am in a position that would take 3 – 5 months to achieve, even if you had money – so naturally there are some jealousies. I am slowly learning who my friends are, and who wants to stab me in the back.
I forgot to mention earlier that a man named Vusi approached me to help him with some academic questions. – one was “What is the cultural studies approach?” 2. was “What are the aims and objectives of cultural studies?” He is doing something at UNISA. I gave him a lot of headings under my interpretation of the questions. He is going to show me what he writes. I met a good looking coloured with good teeth in the telephone room. He told me he converted from Muslim to Christianity for his wife and son, but since he has been in jail for 7 months his faith has been tested beyond its limits – he has dumped religion. I am sorry for the smokers in prison; it is an endless battle to get the makings. I have seen a smoker swap a meal to get enough tobacco for four cigarettes. Funnily enough no one seems to want alcohol – but quite a few have told me that drink is what got them into jail. It is a good reason to give up drinking and smoking and any other drug. It looks like I am the only person in the whole jail, including the guards who do not smoke. I have had a lot of thoughts on my trial defense but deliberately do not put them into writing here as they may fall into the wrong hands. Nobody trusts nobody with that kind of information. The stories of plants in the cells to get information are plentiful. It is another good reason to be close to the prisoners who have been here the longest. I have seriously considered dis-information of a kind that would favour my case – but actually better to say nothing.
The cell blocks are separated by a gap of 2,2 meters from the ground floor to the third floor, and trade by means of a plastic bag tied to a string of rags can be thrown up, down, left and right. We can trade directly with 4 other cells. One of the white prisoners has a crutch for his broken knee, and this crutch is used to help pass merchandise to the difficult cells. It is loyally returned to him after each trade. Although I have only seen him get up from the floor in the mornings for a shower and go to lunch. Someone produced the star newspaper dated march – 1995 this evening and I read it right through – got a shock to see extradition agreement concluded with —–. And it was the first time I have actually read all the crime reports which I know is going on from personal experience, but a surprise to know that all Star readers know and still nobody does much about it. I was half expecting to find my own name there. The Chinas played ludo all night and shouted loudly every time they threw the two dice – actually to 02h00.
Our cell radio speaker is connected to a radio in the cell across the 2,2m gap in the cell opposite, and they control the times and volumes that our speaker operates at. It is just a bit loud for me – tonight it was Radio Metro who played a lot of Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Brenda Facie.
Sunday 12th. I woke up about 06h30, washed upper body, and cleaned teeth with paste and finger. I remember it was after 02h00 when I finally got to sleep. Being Sunday the colonel is to inspect the cell – the black guard comes in first to see how it looks and count heads. I have described the sweeping and polishing procedure. The head count is done by the prisoners sitting two per bed (called 2 x 2), and is preceded by a bell somewhere to signal – get ready. This is consistent with the guard’s grasp of mathematics. It seems counting in two’s is as much as they can handle. I can see they have a lot of trouble with the fours (4 x 4). Anyway inspection took place without incident by the white colonel. I hope I am not here when the blacks are running the show. The general state of the prison deserves discussion. It has hot water most of the time. It has cold water about ¾ of the time. There always seems to be one or the other and sometimes both. There is 1 handle for 8 taps, 2 basins and 2 showers. The urinal has never flushed in living memory, and on investigation I found this to be a design problem – it had malfunctioned outside the building, and no access is available to fix it, so the pipe was simply disconnected – this is the case in the 14 cells I know of, as the design is uniform I suppose the urinals do not work anywhere. The whole toilet area is tiled up to 2,5 to 3,0 m above the tiled floor. The sinks run into the shower outlet drain, and then somewhere outside the building in the gap between cell blocks. The shower and sit-down toilet is used as a urinal. A 5l paint tin is used to flush the single sit-down toilet when the water is off. Between adjacent cell blocks 2,5 meters apart is a kind of grid flooring which is probably to prevent escape either up or down, but it catches every scrap of rubbish thrown from the cells, and I suspect leaks from the sink, shower and urinal end up dripping down into this area – I don’t know what is at the bottom, but I bet it is a real mess if the smell is anything to go by. Fortunately the prevailing wind is from our cell to the others, and our fresh air supply is pretty good. There are 3 double tube lights in the main cell, and one in the toilet area. The center one in the main cell does not work. Although the light switches are outside the cell they can be controlled from the inside by means of the starter.
The beds which were originally bolted to the wall and floor have long since been moved around to suit the occupants. The arrival and I suppose the departure pens are completely open under a tin roof (corrugated iron), with the bars going up to the roof. There are 8 of these about 5m x 8m with one open toilet seat and one stainless steel sink / basin in each one. There are 1 or 2 tap handles for all of the 8 taps over the sink. Naturally most of the taps are left running as there are not enough handles to turn them off. One toilet is constantly overflowing, and drainage is towards the other pens. One toilet is full and blocked, one works, and the others I do not know about. This section is a real health hazard, yet it is close to check-in, clerks and offices. I have estimated that the total prison capacity is 22 000 to 25 000, excluding the women’s section. The yards are grassed very well. There is a fair amount of dripping water all over the place, but not inside the cells, as it has not rained for some time I guess it is from leaking pipes etc.
On the ground floor there are signs of concrete deterioration with exposed aggregate in places and exposed steel in others. All sloping brickwork is breaking down badly. On the second day I was here I met a bright young black guy about 25 to 27 years old who said he was here when he was 14 years, and he could remember it as the same but brand new and everything working perfectly. I myself surveyed the surrounding and internal roads of this complex in the early to mid seventies, never dreaming I would use them in the back of a prison truck. The don’t care attitude of the guards and admin staff is obvious and shows signs of getting worse with affirmative action and necessary bribery among the guards. Certainly no building maintenance in progress – it will get much worse. Another thing is prison admin does not know what cell I am in. On Thur P.M. when I moved into this cell with the help of Tembo no one recorded this fact. I asked old hands when this would be done – they said next morning (Friday), this did not happen and this was the main thing that prompted me to phone L. on Saturday to give my cell No. and block. Even if Nelson Mandela came to visit me I would not be found. They do have a system of sending a prisoner with a list of names, and shouting them through the windows. This is so hard to understand nobody even tries, so if the prisoner did not hear his name he would not be found. Prisoners missed court appearances because of this. By the way the windows consist of seven vertical windows about 1,0m high, each with its own catch. The hinge frame acts as bars.
Right; back to breakfast about 09h00, the normal pap, milk, bread and brown sugar – 10 minutes in the yard and back to the cell. I found a December 93 Fairlady magazine. What the Fairlady Magazine was doing in the prison I don’t know, and spent the morning reading that – pretty boring. It seems that visitors days are Mondays and Wednesdays, and for some reason that means the phone can not be used on those days?? It also means that anyone wanting to visit would be working. Why they can not have visitors on weekends I don’t know.
At the queue for lunch I get a heavy reprimand for having hands in pockets – it seems I had been seen doing it before. I asked the guard the reason for this – he said no I must not ask questions, so I think he does not know either. What the hell. Very short servings at lunch which almost caused a riot. To me it was just enough, and I ate it all for the first time – real slops. We had extra prisoners from the holding cells that had been to court on Friday joining the ranks. This caused counting problems, and the new chums being pushed from cell to cell.
Yesterday a cellmate about half my size loaned me a shirt and trousers while the servants were washing mine. I gave them back to him this afternoon when I had a shower, and borrowed blue shorts and a “T” shirt from another. I now have clean shirt and long trousers for tomorrow incase my attorney visits. I hope he does so I can start making some definite plans.
All the radios going full blast today on soccer matches.
I started to notice lice in the cell, and asked if someone could catch me one – they did.
This is what it looked like.
SKETCH – LICE.
Monday 13th. I did not sleep well last night. I can remember seeing the beginning of dawn which must have been 05h00, and then woke up at 06h18. I did not have bad thoughts, but sneezed a lot. I think it is all the dagga smoke that is making me sneeze. Also I have developed an itch in my crotch?? Today is visitor’s day, and it sounds a dismal affair – apparently lists are brought to the cells by tame (serving) prisoners, and names are called out – same as the lists for court tomorrow – Then those on the lists are taken to the visitor’s room where they can speak on phones through glass, and can collect presents after inspection – everyone is getting all spruced-up for the maximum 15 minute visit. Here is some rock-hard logic for you; “because most of the prisoners will have visitors (for 15 minutes) they will not want to use the phones, and therefore the phone room will be locked all day today”. Any way I borrowed a finger of Colgate – all tooth paste is called Colgate, and used same finger to clean teeth – then a cup of tea – black with brown sugar from the Chinas. Then 2 x 2 count, and off to breakfast with a Rhino Poacher from opposite cell.
A nice surprise – applies to everyone – I had decided no pap for me today, only bread and treacle, but when I saw the apples, I took a plate of pap and cup of tea to swap for apples. I managed to get 3 additional apples – good score. I walked around the yard three times, and then went back to the cell. I was surprised to find strange prisoners in cell 11 wanting to give their apples for enough B & B tobacco to make one cigarette – mostly whites. I thought to myself; this is madness – giving away food for smoke. A smoke is worth ¼ loaf. A smoke with a blade of dagga is worth ½ loaf (2 x ¼). A smoke is worth 2 – 3 tea bags. So cigarettes or tobacco is the best commodity to have.
I took another walk around the yard, and tried running up and down the steps, this was good. One guy had been to the shop, and brought me back 4 x Chappies Bubble Gum. Everyone waiting for visitor’s call. My friend Tembo was expecting a visitor when the lunch call came. Lunch was the normal pap, halfway between porridge and pap with what I guess to be curried chicken – it had chicken bones in it, and was nearly the colour of curry, and pink cabbage. How it came to be pink is a mystery to me. I ate half of it. I came back to the cell hoping for a visit from my attorney. Tembo had returned from his visit, and gave me a very welcome coke and one or two biscuits.
Then the bad news came – the guard who had taken my R.50, 00 to buy phone cards came back empty handed, but at least returned the money. I tried to put the whole trading system into operation to get another phone card. The problem with buying phone cards is you can not see at a glance what value it has left on them. Anyway I managed to buy a supposedly full R20, 00 card for R.10, 00 deposit, I hope it has time on it. I think I had best buy another one as backup.
We somehow got 2 extra partly beaten up whites in our cell after lunch. They appear to have no status, and I don’t much care to find out what they are all about. During the afternoon a current newspaper arrived in the cell next door (No.10), and I arranged to have it for 3 hours to read before it was smoked. Newspaper here has only one use – to make cigarettes. I gave it back about 19h30I had supper around 20h30 – bread, tinned fish, and some of the curried chicken from lunch, with tea. The curried chicken was bought from the kitchen staff somehow.
Tuesday 14th. Got dressed into my clothes all clean and pressed, and off to the phone with Negro. We decided to miss breakfast in order to get to the phone first, or at least early to phone public Defender for Negro, and make arrangements for them to be at his trial 29-03- 95. And I also wanted to phone — to see what the hell is happening. My luck the phone wires had been ripped out. With another black prisoner. I had screwdriver made out of a piece of hanger wire, and re-connected the wires to the multi-joiner. The phone worked for a few seconds, and then only service calls could be made, or at least some of them. For example you could phone international enquiries and make trunk call bookings. The reverse charges number would not answer, and by now there are 25 people in the room. One little Latino oke I met on the first day asked if I had a phone card, I told him yes, and naturally he wanted to borrow it for only a short time. I told him I will not lend you the phone card and he went absolutely bananas, shouting names at me and swinging wildly. After a while he decided to leave with his face broken again. Shortly after that the phone went completely dead, as if they were working on the line outside. I decided this was a waste of time and went to the chief, and asked if he could take me to another phone, as I am desperate. He refused nicely enough. The guy I had given a deposit for the R.20, 00 card came and admitted his card had less than R.7, 00 on it, and will give the R.10, 00 back again. He thought I had checked it on the phone, and had got nervous. So now I don’t know what to do, except to wait. Went to cell and tried to make arrangements to go to another section to phone. This would cost R.5, 00, but then I heard all sections phones were out of order – I believe this. Good.
Time to do today’s diary up to now +/- noon. Maybe 13h00 or 14h00 I get a legal visitor call and go down stairs and wait for the escort. When he comes he asked me where I was yesterday – stupid question for me, but as I suspected no one in the prison actually knew where I was. I was taken to Mr. Panachee (Indian) in room 46 who said he was looking for me yesterday 11h46. I said that is because you did not know where to find me – nobody took my name when you put me in cell C1-11. He said yes, that is a problem, and phoned Shapiro, I think, and told me my legal visitor is on the way – he mentioned the number 789 9732? I begin to wait in the waiting hall. I also signed a “request to visit with lawyer on urgent matter”. It was a photocopy (badly made), and appeared to be a formality. Tevis Shapiro visited and I gave him the bones of the matter, and we discussed the case at length. (I got the vibe that this guy was not on my side, and was some how complicit with his own agenda). I kept a fair bit back. On my way back to the cell my escort asked me if I wanted to go to the shop. I said yes because I had not been there yet and Shapiro had given me R.30, 00. I bought 2 x tinned food, 1 x Marie biscuits, 3 x lunch bars and 3 x disprin (R.20, 00). On the way back to the cell I met the guy who had taken a deposit on the R.10, 00 phone card, and demanded if I had checked it – I said no, but would go to the cell and then check it. I did this and back to the phone room – locked. But one coloured guy inside called Christian, that I knew, and I passed the card into him and he checked it. OK still had a full R.10, 00, so I paid over the balance. We were all counted in at about 15h30. I had a shower with Negro, my new buddy – had to share the soap – I never thought that would happen.
It looks like we have 4 new guests in our chalet, one of which had money, and was given a bed. I watched the Chinas play Ludo until sunset – whatever time that is these days. It looks like I can’t find anything to read this evening, but will ask around again later. There had been some theft in the cell last night and today of small money and tinned food, so China decided to open and eat most of the tinned food tonight. This suited me as I had missed out on breakfast and lunch. I still can’t get over how much these guys eat, though it is mostly bread and pap. Tonight we had tinned beef and veg, baked beans and tinned fish with bread. I eat it with a spoon, the others in the traditional African method with fingers. I had 6 – 8 draws of dagga, which had a mild effect and went to bed. I have started to carry the key to my bag around my neck now.
Wednesday.15th. I had a fair night’s sleep, maybe the dagga helped, but I am still suffering from an itchy crotch, there is no rash or red marks – it is a bit of a mystery. I will wait and see – there is not much else I can do. Our radio speaker is not operating any more, thank goodness, maybe the owner of the radio has been released or sentenced. I think it was a problem for me going to sleep. It is visitors day again today, and it follows that the phone is locked up, not that I need it, but I have agreed to phone the public defender for a 28 year old Bantu called Negro Ndlovu whose trial date is March 29th – same date as mine. I may need him along if push comes to shove in the prison truck.
At breakfast we had Matabelle Porridge – the brown stuff made from sorghum. It was nice. I managed to eat less than half without making a pig. I gave the rest to Theo, our cell white servant who eats about 3 helpings. I kept the bread, and brought it back to Tembo who was keeping guard in the cell. The visitors list is being called thick and fast. It looks like being a boring day. I did some push-ups, and went around the yard about 10 times = to 2km with some stairs to run up. I did see the guard taking some people to the phone, but only once. I wonder how much that cost. I spent time in the yard until about 14h00 when lunch was served. I had to go in the exit door, and therefore missed out on the bread hand-out, usually at the entrance door. Lunch was sorghum meal with a dollop of scrambled eggs and squash of some description.
During count before lock-up the section chief warder gave a talk on cell behavior, dwelling on such things as no body searches for money, every prisoner should have a bed with-out paying (+/- R.5, 00), and those without money should not have to be servants etc. etc. It was like throwing flowers to pigs. We all know how it should be. Anyway I managed to get today’s Citizen Newspaper which I read from cover to cover in semi reverse order, so that the pages could be smoked by cellmates as soon as I finished the page. Very depressing to read the state of the nation – everything going to be done, but nothing actually started.
Nobody registered for forthcoming election (local Govt.). The Rand (unitary rand) shaky, and almost every school and university under disruption, or sit-ins or hostages. Nothing can happen, that I can think of, that will make things better. Now even bribery in English soccer teams.
As it was visitor’s day; most people had something to sell, including plenty of dagga. The shouting and trading went on, and on, and on getting louder and louder and louder. One fight broke out in our cell between Matabella and Negro. Myself and Tembo stopped it immediately, but had to hold them for quite a few minutes. I collected an elbow in the side of my head, which along with everything else including dagga smoke, I got a headache. I went to bed early, but the smoke and shouting continued. I took 3 Disprin tablets, but could feel no effect. During the night it subsided.
Thursday. 16th. I woke up later than usual with just a faint sign of the headache. Otherwise I am feeling pretty healthy. I don’t know if it is getting colder, but I did feel cold –maybe a result of the headache. After morning count Negro and I ran for the card phone. I got stopped by a guard for some reason I do not understand, but Negro said he would hold my place. I got away again at first call for breakfast, and found Negro third in like. I was to phone for him to the Public Defense Organization. They did not answer at first, so I phoned my attorney and asked him to bring me R.200, 00 in 10s and 20s and some phone cards. He said OK and — was getting my jail kit ready. He said there were no developments except discussions, and he would probably call on me tomorrow. He asked if Goosens had called – No he had not. Then I got through to Public Defense Jhb. 888 6655, and gave them the details of Negro Ndlovu – 28 years old, address in Soweto, telephone of his next door neighbour, date of arrest, Police Station Newlands, what bail he would be able to pay +/-R.1 500, 00, date of trial 29th March, and yes they will be there and able to help court 9 Johannesburg Regional. This court is now called Westgate for some reason, and this prison “Diepkloof” is called “Sun City”, maybe it is some kind of jail slang (later to be known as “Johannesburg Prison”). Because of the phone calls I missed breakfast – no problem. Did a couple of turns around the yard which is even better. Headache OK now – gone.
I just wish I could take photographs of some of the people in this prison, including the guards. Most of the prisoners here have done time before – 21/2 to 4 years, but some of them have done up to 10 years, and look every bit the part. I would guess 70% blacks and bushman types, 28% coloured and 2% white. There are about 30 other whites in this section at about the same station in life as myself. Some of the guards are going out of their way to greet me, and I am going out of my way not to greet or have discussions with anyone, particularly guards. This is for reasons of common sense, and also instructions from my attorney – not so sure about him either. Every second little shit here says he knows me (which is a shock) and why don’t I remember him, and loan him R.1, 00 or my phone card. I tell them all to cut the crap and that is usually that. I got a scare today when someone called me to say the chief wants to see me as there has been a complaint. There have been some encounters here in jail that I have not mentioned in this diary until maybe later – if ever. Normally most prisoners want to mind their own business, and if someone gets hurt it is due to them, so no complaints. I reported to the chief and told him my name, and that I was asked to report. He thought for a ½ second, and then said no it is a mistake. OK. I went back to the yard where soccer was in full swing. I don’t know how they make up teams, but they are very very good. I think I have seen better play here than on TV. Considering no boots, no ref, no lines and a plastic drum as a goal, and a ball which has seen better days. Lunch was sorghum, small piece of meat and some gravy with a dob of pumpkin. I ate about ½. The ¼ loaf I took to the China’s food box. At pre lock-up count outside the cell, I see some of the guys are back, who went to court yesterday. Most of them are remanded in custody because the lawyer or a witness did not pitch up. One guy “Tintin” did not come back and I heard he got 5 years for housebreaking and stealing with a previous for car theft. Tembo and Negro tell me they are moving out of China into Tokyo. Something to do with the fight last night and stuff missing from their food box and other places. I will have it explained to me later. Seems that Tembo bought blades (little dagga packets) from Matabello for R.1, 00 each, and sold them straight away in front of him for R.1, 50, and this annoyed Matabello, and some how Negro got involved.
I had supper in Tokyo with the Japanese – Tinned stuff and bread, 1 x meatballs in gravy, 3 x baked beans, and 1 x fish. Again I get my own plastic plate and spoon. The others eat from communal dish with bread and fingers. Chatted for a while, had 2 draws of dagga and went to bed.
Friday 17th. I woke up at what I would guess to be 02h00 wide awake. It was warm, and getting the blanket right for the right warmth was a problem. My itchy crotch was a problem. I have made a note for Shapiro to get me something in this regard. I remember two dreams which is pretty unusual for me. One was the discovery of a body under a pile of roadside debris on the concrete freeway just east of Rivonia off ramp. It turned out to be a woman – a housewife I knew from around home, but I now can not remember who. P.W. was also there. Stopped going the other way. The other dream was driving 4×4 bakkie in bushy outback area on a very rough washed away road when I got out to examine the road at a kind of culvert. I noticed huddled groups and individuals of strange animals at a distance in the bush. After a while they turned out to be kangaroos – it ended there. I must have gone to sleep again, as when I next woke everyone except the Chinas was up sweeping. I got up, made the bed and read yesterdays copy of the Sowetan. Soweto’s daily newspaper. It was amazing, that most of the stories were an exact word by word copy of what I had read yesterday in the Citizen. The main stories were Taxi Wars in Meadowlands, firing into queues of waiting passengers (2 dead and 6 wounded). This is the way rival taxi groups fight “Shoot each other’s passengers”. I did my 12 push-ups, 12 curls and 12 squats before showering, during breakfast. The whole cell is terrified of missing out on a meal, and crowd the door when they can hear the guard coming – same as on an aeroplane when the plane stops – everyone crowds the aisle and still have to wait for the gangway to arrive – there must be a name for this syndrome – if not I will try to think of one – “The Wildebeeste Syndrome”. While waiting in the cell a guard came in and started idle chatter, but the point was the Chief wanted to see me – again. So I got dressed and went downstairs to find the chief. He seemed genuinely interested in my well being, and was concerned that I had missed some meals. I told him I do not eat as much as these guys and he should not worry. He had some older white men standing around, probably for the same reason – health, no appetite. When I came back to the cell I was asked what it was all about – I told them the facts. Then I heard there had been other whites here recently (last 6 months) who had hunger struck themselves to death. This of course is embarrassing to the prison. I myself would be more worried about deteriorating health conditions. Any way, back to cell, diary up to date +/- 11h00. Tea and bread with Tokyo, and now waiting for Shapiro. Lunch came up in the meantime – worst ever, fish bones and boiled pink cabbage – dished out by hand; I ate about 1/8 of this mess.
Another thing that is a surprise to me here is the length of time prisoners awaiting trial have been in custody. Some I have met have been here 7 to 8 months, and some have not been to court at all in that time, and some have been remanded 4 and 5 times for various reasons – such as “State not Ready with case evidence yet”, or witness did not turn up, or lawyer did not turn up, or can’t decide on sentence because still looking for previous convictions, or been granted bail or fined but cannot contact anyone to bring the money etc. Also remand time is long – average 4 weeks. Reliable outside help is a big problem for most prisoners as it seems that often their friends abscond with bail or fine money, leaving them sitting. Reliable lawyers also seem to be a problem. There are many stories of the lawyer dropping the prisoner after they have paid, or partly paid. Some prisoners have left valuable property outside, such as vehicles and merchandise, and they have no idea what has happened to their belongings. (As an aside – I also had problems getting a vehicle recovered from a mall car-park – I was a bit lucky).
Some jail slang:
Puma paka Meal
Kalkop ¼ Loaf
Falla Fall in
Gubudu People who sleep on the floor.
Scaffold Top Bunk
The Bomb Kettle element – 2 spoons tied together with plastic bags.
Black pot Stove made with blanket, plastic bags & linen.
Pumpum Full plate of porridge
Sceper Not enough porridge on the plate
A ten Enough B&B tobacco to roll one (Zole) big cigarette.
Eat Spend (the money)
Pipskaak Gap between cell blocks where rubbish is thrown
2 – 2 Squat or sit in rows of two
4 – 4 Squat or sit in rows of four
Chief W.O. or cell block commander
Suncity Diepkloof Prison.
Makowkute Single Cell. 5 whites and 3 blacks at present.
Matabelo was thrown out of China this afternoon for some things that have been building up, and in particular for eating (money) that was due for someone else. For supper we had the same fish that was served up for lunch with kalkop and tea. All in all not a good day and worse to come. China played Ludo until late, and shouted at each other until even later. I asked them to Tula (be quiet) when I could not stand it any longer. This could have been a diplomatic error, as the reply was “how long have you been in prison, and you can’t stop us”. But they were quieter after that and I got to sleep. I will see if there are any repercussions tomorrow.
Saturday 18th. Everyone was nearly finished making beds (except China still sleeping) when I woke up. I cleaned teeth, washed face, had a pee, did some exercises – 12 push-ups, 12 curls, 12 squats. I was still a little stiff from yesterday, but the stiffness soon went. Theo bought me a coffee in bed compliments of Tokyo. Tembo came to see if it had been delivered. I have been quite lucky to have met Tembo, and have him show me the ropes, and look out for me in many ways. He told me about his family in Zimbabwe yesterday. His mother is a hospital matron in Bulawayo. His father is a lawyer, one sister is a legal secretary, the other sister is a nurse in training, and a brother who is a motor mechanic. Tembo is himself a fully qualified chef – an international 3 year course. His mother comes to visit him every 2 to 3 weeks, all the way from Bulawayo, for 15 minutes. He started a job at the People’s Restaurant at Randpark Ridge, asked for an advance of more than he actually needed, and then went and got drunk for 3 days. Naturally the boss thought he had absconded with the advance.
Breakfast was the usual slice bread with syrup, porridge with spoon of brown sugar and milk. I ate a bit over half the porridge and brought the bead back to Tembo. We were asked to fall in outside the cell block and all thought it was a cell search or counting problem – but in fact it was to issue soap, steel wool and toilet paper. 6 rolls of toilet paper for 38 prisoners for a week. They don’t realize that bio-degradable paper is to insure the continued operation of the sewage system, not for the benefit of the users. Anyway it was given to the Chinas to distribute – I did not get any. I had a little sleep before lunch, which was sorghum, 10gm meat and gravy and a mountain of cabbage (pink again) it did not taste too bad. I watched some soccer after lunch, and was again impressed by the quality of play. In the afternoon – because it was Saturday, we cleaned and scrubbed the whole cell – moved all the beds to one end and swept and polished the floor – did the windows and sills, and the iron on the beds. Then moved the beds to the other end & did the other half of the cell. I must say it looks and smells much fresher. I got a sweat up doing this, so had a shower, did some exercises – watched Ludo, had supper and went to bed. It looks like my itchy crotch is turning out to be Ringworm. I will examine tomorrow.
Sunday 19th. Slept fairly well, used only a sheet until nearly dawn. This is a better idea – although I open windows whenever I get a chance, they always seem to be shut. This is typical of the blacks who always seem to want to close themselves up good and tight. I think the reason is partly to keep the Tokolosh and partly they are obsessed with getting cold – like other people I know. After first bathroom session i.e. non Chinas and non Tokyos I was delivered tea in bed by Tokyo, this was good as I had decided to miss breakfast. I did my push-ups 12, curls 12 rugby squats 12, and when paka time came I went and walked the north yard. It is +/- 180 meters around. I did 10 circuits walking briskly and running up the 8 or 10 steps there. Came back to cell and did 12 more push-ups. I had noticed a tough looking coloured prisoner over the last few days, and thought that he must be the meanest looking oke in the jail. He came and chatted with me this morning. He told me his name was Martin, and he was from Cape Town. He was in for robbery, and surprisingly his bail was only R.1 500, 00, but it might as well be 2 million as all his friends and family are in Cape Town, and he can not contact them or they will not or can not help him with bail money. He wears shorts and a basin type haircut which is popular with the blacks. Another prisoner in Tokyo cell 11 is a small unhappy looking black guy with a badly scarred face – it looks like his nose was cut off once and put back again by someone who did not care much – he doesn’t speak much and looks very worried. It seems he is in for murder having killed three people in Soweto last year. By his rank here he must have come to Sun City about November 1994. His name is Victor and he is about 33 to 35 years old. During lunch queue I met a white oke who is in for housebreaking and robbery. He with his friend stopped by a shebeen for a drink. The place was open and apparently in disarray, they went and helped themselves to beer and also found a 9mm pistol. They finished the beer – took the pistol and left, only to be stopped by Brixton police a little while later – with the 9mm you can guess the consequences. Worse; he has a record of armed robbery in Johannesburg. He said he held up three major banks in the CBD in 1982 – 1983 until he was shot and wounded while making a getaway on the fourth. He was hit in the back with 2 38 special lead bullets from a snubbie revolver. Apparently one bullet was removed and the other is against his spine. He must have had a good attorney, as although he got the money – more than R.175 000, 00 and spent it he only got 6 years, and did that in community service at a children’s hospital in Cape Town. However his criminal record will count against him this time.
Lunch was pap, curried chicken, squash and bread – with juice. The juice is sweet-aid or similar, and I did not take any. I managed to eat about half and gave the rest to Theo, our white cell servant. The reason Theo is a cell servant is that he has absolutely no one outside and no money and no way of getting any money. I think he said he had served 21/2 years hard labour previously in Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town. He works for hand-outs etc. It is a sad story because next time he may still have to work and get no hand-outs. We have a good set-up here with contacts in the kitchen which assure us of extras, and with 2 of the messengers who can usually get us stuff from all over, and the shop. It all costs of course, but less than other ways and more reliable. Theo is one of the guys that will eat as long as you keep giving him food – I gave him my leftover, half at lunch time, and so did at least 2 other people, and he ate it all. I suspect my story is getting a bit boring now, so unless something really unusual happens I will skip the routine.
To counter this I will try to get another prisoner’s story each day. I had 4 – 5 draws on a dagga cigarette and went to bed after a chat with 2 Zimbabweans. One thing that has struck me among the South African prisoners is that none of them has traveled more than a few hundred kilometers. They have no idea of the makeup of South Africa, or the rest of Africa. The difference between cities and countries is vague to them. Infact apart from the Zulu influence from Natal, and the few coloureds from Cape Town, the Transvaal blacks know very little outside his own immediate area. None of them has ever slept in the bush, or seen a wild animal of any description. Stories of Vic Falls are completely beyond their grasp. Sinoia caves sounds like a fairy story to them. Basic politics also escape their grasp. Conditions in prisons in other countries- i.e. African countries are far worse than they are here in many ways, and these guys think it is tough here. A few examples are: 1. We have hot water. 2. We have beds. 3. We have food cooked for us. 4. We are issued sheets, soap, toilet paper and cleaning equipment. 5. None of these are available in any other African prison.
Monday 20th. Yo! How time flies – visitors day again, meaning no phones, and endless lists of names of those who have visitors. Hopefully Shapiro will come today with some good news. I had an early morning shower in anticipation of a Legal Visit, and decided to miss breakfast – I am eating far too much. Come lunch time no lawyer – very disappointing. I developed a headache and stiff neck and decided to just doze during the afternoon. I guess I will have to phone tomorrow to see what the hell is going on – I hope the phone is working. It seemed to be very hot last night, but of course these okes close all the windows. I got hold of the Star’s front page with the Queen arriving in Republic of South Africa, and a big tax crisis, and went to read it in China where there is a good light, but they chased me out, I guess in retaliation for telling them to “tula” two nights ago – so I went and read in Japan (Tokyo). Had supper and tried to sleep. This was the worst day so far!!
Tuesday 21st. I heard the forever playing radio say it was 00h18, and I was awake a long time after that. Headache, itchy crotch, uncomfortable and worried. I found myself trying to remember every curve in every road at places I know well around the world – particularly C. Harbour and S—-y. I could not remember the name of the town at the bottom of the mountain below Dorigo? I intend to go straight to the phone this morning – and yes, I am first there, and the door is locked, and the phone is ringing. I went and asked 3 guards to unlock it, with no Joy. Then I saw the chief who told me he will not unlock it until it is clean. OK how will it get clean? – He will go and get some people to clean it. I told him I would like to phone my attorney at 09h00.
So I helped the guys to clean the room and area, and managed to get my card in the slot at 09h00, but no answer. I selfishly held onto the phone until 09h20, and tried again. Then someone asked me if I knew it was a holiday – and sure enough it is – Sharpeville Day, now called Comrades Day. So another fucking day down the drain, with no news, no money and no idea what is going on with my case. I saw my acquaintance Vusi with a “Sunday Times” and helped him read it for a hour until he got the shits with everyone who wanted to read pieces of his paper, and picked it up, and walked away. I don’t blame him. I handed back the piece I was reading, mainly about the Queen and what can go wrong with the tour, and the guest list for the Britannica banquet. The other topic is the budget that Chris Liebenberg tabled last week. Figures quoted 54 -57% for public service wage bill. 1,5 – 1,8% for collection of tax, and talk of selling government assets to pay national debt, and finance R.D.P. (Reconstruction and Development Program). This used to mean Running Down Period when I went to school. 18% of collected tax is used to pay the interest on the national debt, which everyone blames, the last government. All I can see is the present government doing is running around in circles with no chance of getting anything done. I have long since heard it said in RSA, That if you want some good ideas listen to the blacks, but if you want something done get a white man to do it. After I returned to the cell I met my friend Tembo who had been to reception to get some of the money they are safe keeping for him. But alas, it was a holiday and no one there who could help him – it is getting desperate. Tomorrow is Wednesday – it is visitors day and no one will want to use the phone, and therefore it will be locked up – what idiocy. +/- noon had a nice cup of tea with bread and syrup / peanut butter spread, and feel a bit better. Lunch was pathetic, I can’t even describe it. But I did find out there is a special menu available, and you have to have a hospital card to get it. I will ask the chief about this tomorrow. This afternoon I read a “Pace Magazine”, a black magazine in English – a bit of a social Yuppie Type. Around 20h00 I had supper in Tokyo – bread with curried chicken and tea. I am eating too much bread. I had a discussion on what it takes to be an “Executive Chef” in hotels and restaurants in Southern Africa. On another theme there is an emerging pattern of events surrounding the arrest of a suspect. In most cases I believe to be a frame-up, the key man in a particular social group I.E. the one who pays the rent, or owns the house, or farm, or car, or TV etc etc is the one arrested based on information from the others in that social group. They know he will be in prison for a few months, no matter what. If he is given bail, or fined the other members of the group is who he will ask for help. If they don’t help him immediately it will take him some time to get help from elsewhere, and in the meantime they are living in his house, driving his car, and wearing his clothes etc. It can, and normally does end in complete depletion of his assets. By the time he does get out he has nothing at all, and all his so called friends are gone. This is made worse by present political trends, as the country is suffering from an enormous crime wave, and is at the same time trying to get foreign investment. It has been told by investors to clean up your crime for a start, then we can talk about investment.
One move the government has made is to do it’s best to get any criminal or suspect locked-up for as long as is legally possible. This coupled with deteriorating facilities can very quickly lead to most unpleasant prison conditions. The maximum prisoners in a cell are stated as being 38. I have heard they are considering ways to get it up to 45. I do not think these figures are based on any scientific evidence. The 38 is a wild guess, and the 45 is a projection of what is going to be needed. The prisoners themselves regulate the even distribution of prisoners in the cell. Infact I do not think the guards could do it by themselves in an orderly fashion. The education of your average guard is very low. I would guess well below matric – say std. 7 – 8. I can also see by the way they wear their uniform, and carry their Tonfa baton that they have had very little training for their job, and no service training. Their general deportment is the lowest I have seen in any disciplinary force. The white guards are of a particular type – loosely described as landless Afrikaners. The type is well known here in South Africa, and often referred to as a Dutchman. These are real Dutchmen. Famous for their “Y” logic. An example of “Y” logic is “If there is a glut, put the price up” as you will not be selling as much.
Wednesday 22nd. I had a very good nights sleep and woke just before dawn, whatever time that is. There is a nice autumn feel to the air which used to excite me as it signaled the hunting season is near. I guess that will not be this year, or ever? What a sad thought. Visitor’s day today and the lists are being shouted all over the place. I did not have breakfast, but had tea with a slice of bread with syrup and peanut butter, which was more than enough. I am feeling quite strong, and did my exercises early – 15 push-ups, 15 rugby squats and 15 curls, all done twice before 10h00. Well lunch came and went with no sign of my attorney. I am feeling very bad now. No money, nothing to read, nothing to do except worry – a very bad day.
I have noticed a new game in the cell. Although I had seen it before I did not know how it was played. It has 24 positions on the board where lines intersect. Each player (there are 2 players) has 12 pieces. They start with the pieces in their hands and take turns to place them on the board, each trying to get three in a line (a bit like noughts & crosses), and the other trying to block the three. When a player achieves three in a line he may take off one of the other player’s pieces, and so on. It seems once you have made a three you may move one of the three pieces, but not back again. It is halfway between draughts and noughts and crosses.
Sketch of board game.
Yesterday’s holiday is now called “Human Rights Day”, and I remembered the name of the town at the foot of the mountain below Dorigo. It is called Bellingen, and it is on the Bellinger River. I remembered the name of the river first; I was trying to remember all the rivers on that coast. There has been another move by China to throw me out. They told Tembo that they have not received “Bed Money” from the white man – meaning me – and I should be moved to the floor. Tembo said when they approach me, I should say I have no money now, but will have tomorrow or the next day, and we can make a plan.
Last Tuesday when my attorney came I bought tinned food and biscuits which I gave to China, and will do the same again when my attorney comes next. And ask them exactly what amount they are talking about, as the bed is not worth very much. Anyway I hope I can contact my attorney early tomorrow, and avert the conflict. I actually feel like challenging them, but I best not risk any injuries.
It seems like everyone in prison has nasty scars which spoil their good looks – and now that I know this, it is a tell-tale sign that they have been in prison. I do not need that kind of thing, so I will sleep on the floor if need be. I had about 4 puffs of dagga before going to bed. There is no doubt it clears your head and eyes, and relaxes you to a certain extent, and unlike tobacco – as I remember it – seems to open your lungs as well. I forgot to mention we /I started a “Gym Club” – about 8 of us (me and 7 blacks), led and instructed by myself and Negro Ndlovu.
March 1995. Thursday 23rd. Up early, reasonable night’s sleep. Instead of going to breakfast, I went straight to the phone. About 09h30 I got through to my attorney’s office, but he was in court. The girl who answered the phone said he would be out of court at about 11h00. I told here my situation is desperate, and please for him to visit me soon, and don’t forget to bring me R.200, 00 and some other things. She said she would get the message to him this morning. I was locked in the phone room with 8 others until after 10h15. I decided to try for breakfast incase Shapiro came around lunch time. The bread had ran-out and it was another 30 minutes wait. When I went to the cell block, I found I was locked out, and on floor cleaning duty – well that was OK, as I had not done it before and it occupied a bit over an hour. I am very worried about what is going on with my case, as the trial is set for next Wednesday – six days away. I might add I do not entirely trust my attorney, I suspect he is somehow complicit. The statement by Detective Goosens that R.500, 00 had been taken from my Midrand account – if this is true, it is the difference between a sentence and a fine, and I do not know what evidence is substantiating this statement. I am also in desperate need of cash and a change of clothes. I have had the same clothes now for over 2 weeks – but it is only a shirt and trousers, and both are a light colour, and showing the dirt. Also with the season changing these clothes are not quite enough to keep me warm. One benefit from being here is that I have not taken a Syndol for 17 days (used to be a couple a day) with no withdrawal symptoms. My head temperature was a problem, but I say it is reducing slowly day by day. I still get muscles knotting up in my back and neck, normally due to stress and nervous tension. I will have to have a serious massage sooner or later to break up these muscles. Another reason for the Gym Club. Although the cell itself is cozy enough, the verandah is closed in with breeze blocks, and therefore open to the wind, but not the rain. We spend a fair bit of time on the verandah, and without good clothes could get a bit cold. We spend at least 45 minutes on the verandah, standing or squatting in 2 – 2 to be counted.
This after lunch +/- 14h30 to final lock-up time +/- 16h00. This to me is the most boring part of the day. Before lunch (mid morning) I was chatting with 2 whites and 4 blacks, when someone asked what is south in Zulu. Even fully fledged Zulus could not come up with an answer. East and west was OK as they had descriptive names – such as “place sun come up” and place sun go down, but north and south apparently have no names. Infact it turned out none of the people I was talking to have a clear idea of the compass points, and where the sun came up and went down. Although everyone smokes, I asked how many matches in a box? No one knew although the guesses were 30, 32, 40, 45 and 53. I guessed 45 for the hell of it, but I seemed to remember there was supposed to be 50. I thought of asking haw many cigarettes in a packet but I thought they may have suspected I was being insulting if I did that. These people have got way out of touch, if they were ever in touch. I have also noticed that simple arithmetic, dealing with numbers under 10 are a complete puzzle to most people here. Another thing I have noticed here among the blacks is when they call someone they wait only 2 – 21/2 seconds before calling them again. Just about the time a white person would be replying. I had noticed it a long time ago when my maids friends call from the street. They can only assume the person being called has nothing to do except to wait to be called. The caller has not considered any other situation, such as being involved in another conversation, eating, bathing or just with other people where it would be bad manners to shout a reply. In other words to give preference to someone outside rather than the people you are with. I am going to try and get to the bottom of this. Also if you did hear the first call and were preparing to answer or come to the door or window there is no point in calling again. If you did not hear the first call due to noise – TV, radio, machine noise, or if you are not there, you are unlikely to hear the second call 2 seconds later as the situation would be the same. If you did hear the call and someone else in the house or cell did, it would take time for you to be told that you are being called, and to react. This situation is the same – there is no point calling again 2 seconds later. The rest of the day was mundane, in fact worse than usual – no supper, no dagga, no tea. One thing, my itchy crotch seems to be easing up – I am still not sure what the problem is – ring worm or not??
Friday 24th. Immediately after first count I sneaked down to the phone, it was 08h20. The gods were smiling, the door was unlocked, and me, the only one there. I got hold of T. Shapiro – (somebody knows a Paul Shapiro). He said things are looking OK, and he will be here at 13h30, which is a lot better than hearing the case is fucked up and I will not be there. Any way this news gave me a lift, and I feel much better. Decided to have a shower and wash socks and u pants. I then had to walk around swinging my laundry by hand to dry so I can put them back on again. This takes about one and bit hours. Then; great excitement. Guard comes in and says he wants to do stock take on mats and blankets now! The plan is to take the bed apart, and fold blankets in stacks of four per prisoner and two mats per prisoner the mats are 12mm thick felt about the size of the bed. While the blankets were stacked in piles of four on each bed, the mats were rolled separately along side of the blankets for easy counting. But no, this was not satisfactory for the guard. He ordered all mats to be placed on the floor in the “Gubudu” are for in my opinion difficult counting. Anyway with the stocktake complete, the scramble to re-claim mats from the floor developed into an unholy shouting and snatching match, and did not subside for at least one hour. I reasoned that if we had enough mats before the count, (and according to the count we did) then we must have enough after the count. So I simply picked up my two mats after the commotion had died down. And that was that as far as the bedding count goes. The noise level is back to a low indistinguishable rumble which reminds me of a British or Australian public bar at 17h00 on Fridays. I do not understand the details of the conversations which are mostly in Zulu, but the topics are tobacco and dagga and how best to smoke it, the price of goods offered in prison such as watches, clothes, tinned food, and various criminal skills which each prisoner has, and also (and this is true) how bloody difficult it is to get things done, such as make a phone call, collect some of your own money from reception, go to the shop, receive a visitor, get medical attention etc etc. One thing about medical attention is that it is free – no matter what. And it is normally done at the best clinics Johannesburg has to offer. One big white guy here has a sun cancer on his bottom lip, which from my experience looks like it is football shaped about 2 cm long – I definitely think he needs surgery. Well the call came through for a legal visit about 12h20. I packed my bag and went to talk with T. Shapiro with 2 hours to spare, in order to travel about 150 meters. I just happened to pick-up the call slip which the messenger had dropped on the floor. I was surprised it had my name on it, and was from reception, and not legal visit department. I begin to smell a rat – could this be a police visit from W.O. Goosens? I thought hard, and decided it must be a legal visit in the light of my phone call with T. Shapiro earlier today. But I did take my notes out of my case and back to the cell, just in case. Now the problem of convincing the guard that this call card is a mistake, and is actually from the legal visit department, and not reception, and that I must be taken to legal visit. This process took 21/2 hours. What started off being 2 hours early, ended up being ½ hour late. We discussed the case – bail, fine, Midrand Account, Bushpig, P & L W, addresses, Goosens visit, loss, potential loss, sentence, trial date etc. I asked if Squirtus has arrived – yes – Lamus must be by now terrified – yes. Well that is not the end of the world. I mentioned M—n to be nice, and got T. Shapiro’s cell phone number. 083 444 5495. He is to do his best to verify conditions on the Midrand account. I was told the court date of 29-03-95 was only intended to be a remand date, and I would not be asked to plead. I was not sure before, that this was the case. I was also relieved to hear what Bushpig had in his possession. I now think I know why the double-time calling method employed by the blacks is in operation – as described earlier. It is of course a primitive custom which knows nothing of the logic I wrote of earlier. And also a strange type of logic that says that if I do not shout, I don’t really want to talk to you, and therefore you may not want to listen. Of course with this going on it escalates, and nearby conversations have to increase in volume just to be heard. There is also a hint, that if you stop talking / shouting you may have changed your mind, and that would lead to an embarrassing lull in the conversation, and this leads to the quick-time calling. I.E. if you left a big gap in your calls, which are naturally shouted, the person being called may think you have changed your mind about calling in the first place, and not reply to one call. It is kind of logical I suppose. I forgot to mention that on the way back from legal visit I asked my escort if I may go to the shop. The first argument would be “It is probably closed” – I said let us check. Then he said “Awaiting trial prisoners may not use the shop on Fridays”. By this time we were close to the Awaiting Trial cells, and it was obvious that awaiting trial prisoners were in fact using the shop on Fridays, and I pointed this out to the guard. He then told me he would like a cold drink – if he put me at the head of the queue I would agree to this. The shop is like any other kaffer shop in a low income area (it is actually a Spaar shop). I bought biscuits, tinned food, lunch bar, hand cream, Best Blend (BB) tobacco, cigarettes, toothbrush & paste. I should have bought tea bags, bread and toilet paper. The shop does not have newspapers or magazines. After I had packed my purchases into my briefcase I said to the guard “OK we can go” I saw an amazing look come over his face of complete surprise and disappointment. The look puzzled me for a good few seconds, until he almost cried “where is my cold drink?” I hit my forehead and said “Oh hell, I forgot to get your cold drink”. I indicated we could go back, but he realized that to get me back to the head of the queue would be asking too much from the other shoppers – he was in a predicament. I told him I was sorry, and gave him R.2, 00 saying he could go back later. This seemed to defuse the guard. While I was waiting for my legal visit a tough looking little bushman type was thrown into the yard. He looked dead tired and hungry, and was dressed in rough leather shoes, shorts and a short blue dust jacket with a green cap. He did not seem to be injured in any way. He also clutched a tooth brush and a hand full of steel wool in a very threatening way. Three of the cooks (who are serving prisoners) immediately begin to threaten him. I felt sorry for him, probably because of my connection with bushman people and started to stand in with him. When the cooks finally left him alone, he lay down on the concrete in a little rectangle of sunshine and went to sleep. I then spoke to a middle class guard about my waiting, and he told me this guy (the bushman type) had been coming and going since 1988, and had beaten up almost everyone in the prison, and this way the cooks are taking their revenge while the bushman is in a hungry state. The guard went on to say several attempts have been made on his life in the cells, and he has survived them all with no visible scars or other injuries. So he must be one hell of a bushman.
- Shapiro had given me R.200, 00 and a R.50, 00 phone card. I spent R.50, 00 at the shop + guard. There was an impending attack from China (but not full-quota, only about 3 of the 8) on the payment of dues for my privileged position next to China and single bed and all that crap. I had only R.50, 00 notes (attorney should have known better) and needed change to make them an offering. I managed to get change and then made an approach to China and gave them R.5, 00 without asking how much they had in mind, and about enough dagga for about 6 smokes. Tembo came with me and we both tried to look threatening and friendly, and trying to send the message “don’t dare ask for more”. Anyway China accepted, and we all feigned friends and that was that. Actually China is no longer a threat to my security, as three of their members are very much on my side. I paid them in 50 cent pieces, and noticed already they have come to Japan to buy cigs + dagga with the 50 cent pieces – so no problem. There was boiled eggs for lunch, at least part of lunch which I missed, but Negro managed to buy about 20 from the kitchen, so we had egg sandwiches and tea for supper about 20h30 – a much better day than yesterday.
Saturday 25th. March 1995. Did a lot of heavy thinking last night, and came up with a few solutions, and identified a few problems. I got to sleep very late, maybe 02h00 or 03h00, and then someone made a mistake and turned the lights on at 05h00 he is very apologetic. When it got light I can see it is still raining, that is about 4 days rain now – it will be good for the country. I missed breakfast and went to the phone early, there were 6 people waiting in front of me. After 3 or 4 people used it, it broke down and only incoming calls could take place. We tried to ask the callers to phone out on our behalf, but this did not work too well. Too complicated, and who cares anyway. After two hours it started to work again, and I got through to — and got my message through. That was 31/2 hours in that small room. Lunch was the biggest fuck-up I have seen, with a teaspoon of meat and a tablespoon of beetroot on the pap. It was an insult to everyone, and naturally there was a riot – they must have expected it as there were more guards than usual, including white heavies. Of course it was not enough, and they all ended up on the floor with all the food and about 100 prisoners with mugs, plates and spoons clanging all over the place – what a mess. I did not participate, but simply sat and watched, but did not escape flying food. Back in the cell the police came and got a prisoner who was apparently involved in taxi wars, and took him to the single cells – a dangerous killer I am told. I had met and talked with him previously. He had half accused me of taking his little black notebook, which I had seen him with. I told him I did not take it, and don’t ask me again – he went away quietly. It was cold and raining and I was a little damp, and starting to get cold. I decided to get into blankets for a while and get warm. In hindsight I think I was pretty stressed, and had to relax.
I dozed until about 20h00, had supper with Tembo and Richard. Theo made my bed with clean pressed sheets, and I slept soundly until 06h00 Sunday morning. About Richard, he is a half coloured / half Bantu with 3 front teeth missing and is awaiting trial. He is also the jail messenger, or one of them. This means when a list is made up of prisoners who either have visitors or bail, or are wanted at reception for any other reason – Richard runs to the cells with the lists and shout out what the list is and the names on it. Richard was chosen for this job because of his ability with languages, as some of the names are real tongue twisters. Well Richard went to court last Thursday and was remanded until 22nd May (two months) in custody. When this sunk in it knocked him cold. Until tonight he has not eaten, and just been in bed with a horrible blank expression on his face. It is the worst I have seen of jail depression, but I guess I have not seen much. I also heard today that my attacker turned victim – from the truck ride – is still critical in hospital – tough. Looks like nobody is saying anything, and enough time has passed. As you can see I am desperately short of paper. I will try again today to buy some, although it is available at reception weekdays if you can get to reception.
Sunday 26th. Had a good sleep – today is church singing day, and it is raining very heavy. I don’t feel so bad to be in jail on a wet Sunday. I have noticed there are quite a lot of small leaks in the building, but not in C1-11. The verandah and other walkways are very slippery. I did not mention before, the stairways. Each step has an embedded metal grid or flooring in the grano finish which I suppose is necessary when you consider +/- 250 people run up and down these steps 3 – 4 times per day. All floors are grano screed with steel float finish. Sunday was pretty much uneventful except for Negro’s gym classes in the afternoon from 17h30 to 20h00. Then supper, then bed. Oh yes, I did buy a small battery operated watch for R.10, 00. It seems OK.
I actually got to sleep very late – 01h00 –
Monday 27th. The cell woke up at 06h15. I am expecting T. Shapiro today. My shirt and trousers have been cleaned and await pressing.
Themba Lewis Chadoka,
555 Mzihlope Hostel,
Pager No.922 4000. WL69.
Zim 1026 Percy Avenue,
I missed breakfast and did some exercises instead of eating.
I have put out the word that I want to buy a jacket for +/-R.25, 00. I have had 2 offers so far for R.5 & R.8 – these are a bit too rough. The watch I bought for R.10, 00 keeps good time, what a joke. I saw the height of thrift today – splitting matches with a razor blade and thereby doubling the quantity. You carefully inspect the match to see which way the grain is running, then wriggle the blade through near the head end and slowly split the head, then reverse the blade, and continue the split to the other end. Quite simple really. It is now 13h30 and no sign of my attorney. I have put a lot of thought and writing into what I think should be done with regard to bail.
Here are some of the notes:
- Time is of the essence – for many reasons.
- Passport expires April – need new one. A prudent person application. Keep Goosen off the passport angle.
- Firearms Forum will be presented to the minister as an impeccable body. Individuals will probably be checked out – finger prints. I am part of that forum.
- Any other chance connections.
- Flat – backdate 6 months on date. Put some letterheads and business cards and clothes of a lower level than you know me – toiletries etc, sleeping bag, some old tools, and old boots. Tinned food, crockery, and cutlery. Bushpig may be able to help.
First: Face to face with — and yourself, with a chance for you to leave (to establish the truth).
Then: Face to face with —, Bushpig and P.W.? – And maybe yourself (to see what they think).
Then: =/- 2 weeks in gabs + m-l-n to sort out details. De-liced, de-wormed, hepatitis B, sun cancers, and then H—–e to S—-y. pip/lam. Any reason for A—–a
Try to avoid Friday court appearances – it is a real ball ache at prison.
The jail kit is secondary to all this.
It is visitors day to day and the prison is confused with the normal lists of names being called out all over the place – not to mention the trading between cell blocks. As you can see I have got some more paper – prison issue, 8 sheets to keep me going for a time. Some more guard stories: One guard last night woke up a prisoner sleeping near a window to the verandah to ask him for a cigarette. Another guard last Friday asked a prisoner for R.5, 00 for a taxi fare home. Today he is begging for another R.20, 00 as he has no way to get home, and we the prisoners must feel sorry for him – as if any prisoner feels anything for him. He could get run over by a bus for all any prisoner would care. It seems to cost R.2, 00 or R.5, 00 for almost anything, like being taken to the shop, or taken to reception. Apparently there are guard’s single and married quarters within the prison complex, and one white prisoner who has seen it says it is the dirtiest slum he has ever seen. I believe the pay for a sergeant is about R.1 250, 00 per month. The corruption in the kitchen is at outrageous proportions, as every prisoner needs more food than the standard portion. The problem with the standard portion is the ratio of meat and vegetables to carbohydrates. I.E. large plates full of pap, sempted mealie, sorghum or porridge with a spoon of meat and little more vegetable if any. So the prisoners need more meat and vegetables, and there is more except it must be paid for. This costs 4 or 5 of us in Japan about R.20, 00 per day. The kitchen staff are all convicted serving prisoners. All the food appears to be cooked elsewhere in the complex and brought by trolley to the various cell blocks, in this case C1. It is seven o’clock now. After supper I tried to get some Zulu hlaba dancing going, but not much interest. So I started to clap by myself and it did not take long before 6 or 8 people joined in, and then a singer, and then a chorus, and slowly but surely the dancing started. There were only 3 proper Zulu dancers and one Sowetan disco dancer who was an unbelievable break dancer. I must say I have never seen anything like it. Infact I have mentioned this guy before. He is the little multi-murderer from Soweto with the put on nose. The most unlikely dancer you could come across. The proper Zulu dancers were what I was interested in. I wanted to see and do the stamping type dance which is called Hlaba. It was OK but not particularly vigorous, and I did get the hang of it a bit – chorus is bar bar bsimba bar bar. The cell was closed tight and full of dagga smoke – quite a light headed feeling. I am going to the hoff (court) cell tomorrow, and this was a kind of a send-off (maybe not coming back). I must say I was impressed, and my hands were pink from clapping. The whole session was about 2 hours.
Tuesday 28th. Woke up at 06h00 feeling very dull in the head and nose running. I could still smell the dagga smoke and the cell was closed tight. After I brushed teeth and opened some windows I felt much better – I did my exercises and got ready to phone as soon as possible. At the phone at 08h30, 6th in line. Then along comes a fucken guard and wants to use the phone himself, and locks himself in the room with 3 other prisoners for about 20 minutes. Then along comes another guard, and also locks himself in presumably making phone calls. At this stage there are 28 people waiting in line. Unfortunately the line passes by the kitchen window where irregular food is passed out in exchange for cigarettes, dagga, money etc. Another guard saw this line and thought we were taking food from the kitchen, and chased us away and locked us inside the building. He seemed impervious to reason, but I tried anyway, and after a while he came back and let me and 4 other prisoners go to the phone. Again I was sixth in line, which would have been OK except the same fucking guard kept coming in and phoning a number. He came in three other times and interrupted the smooth flow of prisoner calls. The prisoners are very conscious (aware) of the need for the phone, and make their calls as quickly and economically as possibly from an orderly and well organized queue. If the callers are locked in the phone room they very quickly establish the pecking order among themselves, and help each other as much as possible. It is therefore most annoying when a pig mannered guard barges like I have described. Any way I got through to T. Shapiro’s voice mail, and then to — and asked what is going on – he said T.S. is coming to the prison today, and he is battling with the address – this was a blow, I hope it can be sorted out. * T.S. did not come. This guy has some conflict of interest with my case ? ?
Nigro Ndlovo, 37A Zone 7, Meadowland, Soweto – RSA. 011 936 3959 – g/mum.
I have found this guy, a 28 year old Zulu of above average intellect, and told him when he gets out, he must get his matriculation, which is another 2 years. He is in standard 8 now. Get a proper driving license, and then start a course in something else.
After lunch I packed up my things and went off to hoff cell, where we slept the night prior to going to court the next day. Hoff cell is in a different part of the prison, and is a normal cell with beds, showers, toilets etc. The urinal, like every other urinal in the prison does not work. There was +/- 45 prisoners in this cell tonight, and we had to sleep 3 to a usually small double bed with very prickly blankets. I slept with Negro and one other black guy, which was not much of a problem. But someone had a radio which of course they left playing all night – this I can not stand, particularly when it gives the time every half hour or so, and the accepted volume to these guys is 3 times what is acceptable to me (I wonder if this is related to the “Importance Syndrome” I have previously mentioned). Some prisoners live permanently in the hoff cell, and are supposed to keep it ship shape, and to organize the prisoners as they come in – this they do fairly well. They pay for the privilege of staying in the hoff cells, both going to, and coming from court – as they are able to sell dagga, tobacco, cigarettes, tinned food etc to new and incoming prisoners. However the prices are acceptable. Negro and I had arranged to buy supper from them. We had bread with syrup, tinned fish and tea for about R.5, 00. I had a nice hot shower, and apart from the god damned radio everything was OK.
Wednesday 29. Woken up by I do not know who at 04h20. We all did toiletry, folded blankets, sweep up etc. had a couple of minutes to relax. Then at 05h45 off to breakfast (puma paka), which was the same as usual – mealie pap with powdered milk and a spoon of brown sugar, a slice of bread and a smear of syrup. Then lined up on the verandah until all hoff cells had finished eating. Then to a little hallway between cells in 4 x 4 squat formation to have our names called out – to put our thumb print on warrant card (the method of checking out and checking in). Then through reception to the pens, it is now 07h00. As I was called through in the first half, I had quite a wait while all the other court prisoners were herded into the pens. Luckily I was called in the first group from the pens to go to Johannesburg court (now commonly known as Westgate). This is actually a regional court, the Supreme Court is in the center of Johannesburg CBD. We were thumb-printed again and then into the yard. The transport is a S.A. Police truck with covered in roof and mesh sides with sliding Perspex windows, and extra welded flat bars over the mesh, and one door at the back. It is what started off as a 5 ton truck – Ford in this case. The driver is a black police sergeant and the guard is a black constable. The driver was given a printout of names which were finally checked by prison staff. He signed for us +/- 25 prisoners. Then pat searched our bodies and inspected our bags or whatever we were carrying, then loaded us into the truck via the rear door (only door), which has a 100mm hole in it I suppose for inspection purposes, i.e. a peep-hole. The driver, after leaving the engine running all this time stalled it twice getting it out of the first gate. Between the first gate which is a sliding gate inside the prison wall, and the second gate which is the main gate to the outside streets, I realized that an escape attempt was being made. In this short time several prisoners had changed clothes and shoes and a look-out had been posted at the peep-hole in the door to see if an escort vehicle was following the truck. Going through the main gate everything looked normal. Then the look-out was resumed and a good looking pair of heavy duty “Tin snips” appeared. It appeared we would be going out through the roof. Problem was, the only hole to start the snipping was +/- 1,5 meters from the back of the truck, and located between spot-welding positions. The spot-welding had of course hardened the metal in that area. One blade of the snips could just fit into the 13mm diameter hole, and it took a long time to even make an impression, and the driver is going like hell. It did not look possible to me for this method to succeed, but I thought I best be ready just in case it does work. So I started to think of our location and kept track of the route we were taking, and tried to think of an exact plan of action. I had a dark blue “T” shirt and shorts in my case, and was dressed in light trousers and long sleeved cotton shirt. No, I had the ‘T’ shirt on under the cotton shirt – all the better, I could take off the cotton shirt and exchange the trousers for shorts. I did this while holding the guy who was trying to cut through the roof. Everyone else was clapping, stamping and singing. What started to worry me was we were on the freeway between busses and trucks with drivers and passengers much higher than the roof of our truck. In fact I saw two women in a bus pointing to the roof of our truck and laughing – obviously could see what was going on. Progress was painfully slow, and the snips operator had no exact plan of where to cut. They should have been cutting a “U” which could be folded out of the way, but were cutting more diagonally across the panel. I decided on the Soweto Highway that maybe there is a chance, as the cut line had taken on a better direction – so what next? I decided there were some papers in my brief case I wanted, but not the case. I took them out and shoved them down my knickers – I could dump them quickly if necessary later. Then actually getting off the truck without getting broken bones. One could not go over the side for danger of being hit by side traffic or being seen by the driver in the rear view mirrors, so I would have to go up through the roof and out over the back of the truck. I signaled this plan to the other participants who seemed to get the idea. Progress still slow, and going off track again. I stopped the action for a while and explained where the direction of the cut should be. There was some confusion, as this entailed a longer cut, but no chance of success if we did not follow a plan. The participants reluctantly agreed and changed course again with the snipping. Actually snipping is not the word. Ripping would be better. The tin snips were just not up to it. We were by now in heavy traffic in Booysens with a lot of start stop driving, and plenty of people outside who could see what was about to happen. We stopped right outside Booysens police station with 5 or 6 policemen standing outside generally picking their noses. We kept working, and then the shit hit the fan. The next thing I knew there was a policeman on the back of the truck, and the barrel of a Z88 sticking in through the peep-hole in the door. I quickly moved back close to a rear corner so the barrel and slide could not angle around enough to aim at me. The whole gun would not fit through the peep-hole. The truck stopped and I saw 2 – 3 SAP running around outside. I still did not know if they were from Booysens police station, or if one of them was the truck guard. Very soon (less than a minute) the truck started to move again with pistol wielding cop hanging on the back, and at least 3 shots and bullets clanging around inside the prison truck – what a mess. I think the cop thought that because we were trying to escape through the roof he aimed high (at where he thought the hole in the roof was) and the bullets ricocheted in the vertical plain rather than around and around in the horizontal plain. He may have also considered not shooting the driver, but I doubt it. Any way, I was snug in the rear corner and the other prisoners were on the floor under the side seats – so no one was hit. The general consensus was that this was the guard – I do not know. Anyway all went silent now and there were some worried faces among the passengers. The tin snips disappeared and there was a 750 mm cut in the roof half folded down. It was obvious no one wanted to be found with the tin snips on them, yet to throw them away with the guard on the back was risky. The compromise turned into a bad idea, they threw the tool out just as the truck slowed for the last time just outside the courthouse, and of course the guard walked back and picked them up, and yes, no one remembered to wipe them clean – what a fuck-up.
But now I see the guard handling them, opening and closing them etc., and then handing them to a court based official who did the same, then the driver also inspected them – good the fingerprint aspect was safe. When we all got out the driver is waving his list of names around shouting he is going to charge us all with attempting to escape. He seemed serious, and I thought this is a complication I do not need. There were 3 or 4 whites on the truck, but for some reason he picked on me as a likely source of information, and thought I would inform on the other participants. I told him I can not tell him what I do not know, and was thinking it would be more than my life was worth anyway. My fellow passengers seemed to mutually agree to remain silent. Now with the court guards shouting to get moving, and the driver still shouting charges, the whole thing defused for the time being – so we thought. I must say it was all quite exciting, and a real adrenalin high. Somewhere during the ride I had decided to go !
The rest of the day was one of the worst I have experienced. I will do a biorhythm check on this day one day. When the court guard called my name I missed it. He called again in a loud and sarcastic manner to which I replied “that’s better” and immediately regretted it. Although I smoothed over my reply – I had made an enemy. We were then thumb-printed into a large cell under the court building, and it was fairly clean with two toilets just usable. I now changed back into my long pants, long shirt and tie, and expected my attorney to pitch up any minute. They called court 13 (that is mine), and a group of us were led off to a different cell – completely bare of anything except a half inch of water on the floor. We just had to stand in it and hold my bag for god knows how long, and still no attorney. I was called up to court, to find still no attorney, and the magistrate asked me where he was? I said I expected to find him here. The court said they would try to find him, and sent me back down the steps to the cell which is directly under the court. The water persisted, and probably a hour later I was called again, and Shapiro was there – what a relief – Shapiro apologized and informed the court he intended to apply for bail, and told me he would come down to the cell and talk to me. He did this and I was out of the wet cell. We discussed the problems of the case and I took another R.100, 00 from him. The only problem is, he handed me the money in full view of a lot of prisoners – I do not trust this guy. I think that is now R.330, 00 from Tevis. I waited around a bit for my warrant papers to be processed, and my remand date which is 3rd May to be handed to me. This took a bit over a hour which was OK as I could wander around and see what else was going on in this huge cell complex under the court. Eventually my appointment card came along and I was asked to move into another open cell – for after court prisoners. Here I met Negro who told me he had been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment – this had hit him like a ton of bricks, actually knocked him senseless. There is a phone in the cell – actually just outside the cell – and in a little while I suggested he phone someone while he still has the chance.
He phoned his grandmother, and by the tone of the conversation it hit her like a ton of bricks also. Meanwhile this cell is filling up, and I am trying to pick out likely robbers for the truck ride home – to the prison.
Negro, and I had decided to fight all-out if either of us was singled out for a body search and robbery on the truck, but I knew Negro had no more fight in him, so I wanted to be prepared. After Note: Negro and I had trained at the cell gym club with the express purpose of supporting each other, and defending each other in cases like this – particularly the truck rides to and from court. We did hours and hours of gym exercises. Did a lot of spar boxing, and I could punch a brick wall with about 75% full force with left hand, and 50% right hand (only 2 knuckles on right hand). Later I could get up to about 90% of full force punches on the brick wall. I had put the R.100 in my shoe and tied ten knots in the laces – anyway no suspects so far, but was later to be found wrong, as I was looking for baddies similar to the last lot I knew. Lunch came on a trolley and was nicely buttered fresh bread, and very bad soup. I had the bread, and then waiting and watching until about 16h00 when the first truck came which had the same crew as this morning, but a different truck (A Mazda). It was largely the same inmates as this morning, with a couple of new ones. I still had not identified any baddies. I slipped up again with the name caller – my mind being elsewhere when my name was called (Which was not my real name anyway). The truck crew was very nervous, and I could see would shoot if necessary – or maybe unnecessary. They sort of pat searched us, and felt and looked in plastic bags – funnily enough they did not look in my briefcase, and again made reference that I should tell them “who cut the truck” as he put it. No sooner we traveled 3 blocks that the attack came from three prisoners. One big black guy who I had missed, one little black guy who I had not suspected, and one white guy who by his conversation with me I should have suspected. They stripped and robbed two young little black guys who were terrified. Then they moved onto one other black guy who voluntarily emptied his pockets, and then onto me. I had Negro sitting on my lap, and while I knew he would not help me, he was in the way and a hindrance to the baddies. The big black guy came first and grabbed my left hand in a kind of left handed hand shake. I took the initiative and started to squeeze and pull. He resisted for a few seconds, and then his grip collapsed. I kept squeezing as long as I could and then he jerked free, and went to the front of the truck. Apparently the little black guy did not see this happen, and was whispering threats in my ear in Afrikaans. When he had finished with the threats, I smiled and told him I do not speak Afrikaans (Engles asseblief) so he leaned over to talk in my ear again in time to get a nice knuckle punch in his solar plexus mid-sentence. This did the trick, but Negro decided to punch him full in the face an instant later. This had given me a lot of confidence. I think the white guy (who was about 35 – 37 with red hair and dark brown eyes, and a lot of tattoos, named Kruger) had started to think that his buddies were not altogether with him any more.
He had come to me earlier trying to look tough and asked me for R.3, 00 to help him out – I told him to fuck off and don’t ask me again. He was very obedient and mumbled a few unpleasant words. All in all not to hard to beat off this attack – I felt good about it, but knew I would have to watch these guys.
After arrival inside the prison, and because we were mainly the same lot who tried to escape this morning we were lined up against the wall and forced to strip completely, and open our bags on the ground. This was the funniest thing I have seen in prison, and it was hard to keep a straight face, although I was worried about the R.100, 00 in my shoe. I pointed it out to the guard, and he said that was OK. I do not think anything worthwhile was found. Next step is to be thumb-printed into the pens where we had to wait for a long time, I think until 19h00, then taken through reception where we collected a slice of bread on our way to the worst cell in the prison. It was obvious that it would be over-crowded, so it was a scramble for the blankets and mats – I managed to get enough for myself, and strangely enough a coloured guy offered to make my bed for me. This cell had only one tube of one light – no light in the shower / toilet. The toilet did not work and was stuffed with a blanket. I thought of the saying “like shit to a blanket” – this was for real. Luckily it is acceptable to urinate in the shower. About 22h00 – 23h00 something started leaking in the bathroom, and we had to build a dam out of blankets to stop it coming into the cell proper. The cell had no beds – we are all on the floor. To stem the flow we all had to sacrifice blankets, making it difficult to sleep. By now the day had worn me down, I was getting a headache and my back and neck muscles were going into spasm. I decided not to even try to sleep, but spend the rest of the night manipulating my neck muscles and rolling my head and trying to relax – it worked a bit, and I went to sleep some time.
Thursday 30th. It was not over yet. We were ordered out for Paka (breakfast) well before dawn to eat our pap & slice – which took 20 minutes – then back into this filthy, smelly cell. This time I met Archie from my home cell, he had a pile of dry clean blankets, and I asked if he could make me a place to lie down “Yes” – I was grateful for this, it was just coming dawn. Archie told me his story: He has bail of only R.1 000, 00, but no one will help him. He has done time before. He is very religious. He has been remanded three times, and has been here at least 3 months, and is here for another month. His wife who has a job has been suspended until Archie’s case is finished. They have a flat and a 6 year old boy, but Archie does not know if they have food or money, and he was told yesterday that his wife needs to have an operation for a blood condition?? This leaves the 6 year old boy unattended, and he does not know what can be done. Prior to this they lost a 2 year old girl to adoption. He said they had to let her go. Bloody hell, can it get worse – I guess it can before he gets out. He is a very worried man, and I was happy to see he slept most of the morning. In the meantime the toilet was being used – working or not.
It was getting to midday – the water was starting to come through and over the blankets, it was bad. We were taken off to eat about noon, and wow what a surprise – The normal pap and a fish about 250mm long and absolutely delicious, with some very tasty sauce. The fish is something from Namibia. Things were better, but I had to work on my neck and back muscles for the next 2 hours. About 15h00 we were called to rejoin our home cells (C1-11). I was shattered. I asked China where I should sleep, and Teddy said I could sleep in Tokyo with Zack. Zack and Theo made a nice sheeted bed for me. I had a shower, supper and a nice long chat with Zack and a good night’s sleep. There are many pages to be told about Zack. He has been in Pretoria central, Cullinan, solitary confinement, received corporal punishment with a heavy cane, been an armed bank robber, farmer, builder, sailor, choreographer etc. Zack needs more words??!!
Friday 31st March 1995. I decided to miss breakfast, but was told we all had to go as there was to be a roll call after breakfast. It was like the first time they had done this, although I was told that it was done at every month end as far back as anyone can remember. They put us into the south yard and tried to separate us into various categories, such as what court you are from, what is your cell number – some to stand up, some to sit down – some to go to one side of the yard, and some to the other – what a joke. Eventually we all stood around in a semi-circle and listened for our names. Luckily mine was in the first 10 names called, so I was thumb-printed into the warrant paper again and went through into the north yard. I realized it would be a few hours before the roll call would be completed, so I decided to go through my entire exercise routine that I can do without equipment, and then met Archie, and walked around the yard, which is 200 yards / paces around – we did about 15 laps. I then spotted an old man which the chief had called some weeks ago to check on old men’s health. It was perfect high veld weather, the time of the year I look forward to every year. Anyway the old man told me his story, which is – His son in Durban stole a firearm, and the police were watching the father’s house in Johannesburg. When they arrested the son he told the police he had given the firearm to his father. The police then arrested the old man and charged him with the same charge – ie theft of a firearm. They remanded him in custody for about a month. His attorney told him just to sit and they will sue the police for false arrest and loss of income etc. etc.. When the police asked him to make a statement, he said yes, OK about what. It sounds like they will have to let him go. Roll call came to an end – I heard 2 prisoners were missing, and nobody knew what to do.
We all went to cell and shortly after Richard and I negotiated to go to the shop – we listened to all the reasons why we could not go – but eventually we did go. I bought tobacco, cigarettes, biscuits, tinned food, crunchy bars and tea bags – Just under R.40, 00. The crunchy bars were a welcome treat. Thembo came back from court for another month. I knew how he would be feeling and made him tea and peanut butter biscuits etc. while he showered etc. With Thembo back we had to move Zack out of Tokyo to share bunks with Victor the multiple murderer and top disco break dancer from Soweto, who has now developed an ear infection. This will be a problem for Victor because it will take weeks to get medical attention. Big George (the other George from China I believe has been sentenced) has not yet got attention for his sun cancered lip.
Saturday 1st April – April fools day – Our joke for the cell was that we heard on the radio that Mandela said all prisoners must be released this week, but those who wish to stay may do so (to add authenticity). Some prisoners believed us, but, most did not. Most of the day I spent writing. It was an uneventful day. About 16h00 I got our gym club going again. Zack and I were the main participants, and experimented with heel massages to back and shoulders, and a bit of sparring, and brick punching. As far as I am concerned the real reason for all this is self defense. We actually started yesterday.
Some prison gangs: Big 5. Tattoo swastika. Homosexuals, pimps, guards – like food and comfort. RAF3. Escapees, steel groceries. $26 or (2$6) Aim top to rob people of money, and anything of value – watches. Money is god. 28 Mainly homosexuals – Fight and Kill for sexual reasons – these are the top guys.
Mav Seller / Dave Erving, 36 Forbes st. Fellside (Houghton). H.728 2690 W. 485 1677/8??
Sunday 2nd April. A very boring day, although I worked hard on my case, and basically devoted the whole day to thinking and writing ideas on my case. A serious drainage problem is rearing its ugly head in our shower. Drain is 95% blocked, and getting more blocked by the day. At the moment it is all but overflowing, and each prisoner has to just trickle the shower and the sinks. We got two long arm prisoners to try to clean it tonight, and they succeeded by unblocking 5% by removing pieces of blanket and mat. We rewarded them with a cup of tea and a slice of bread each. I decided to write a report about this to the chief tomorrow.
Monday 03 April. I was quite sleepy this morning and did not get up till 07h30 – everyone was busy cleaning and polishing. One thing soon became obvious – there was no tobacco or cigarettes in the cell, and everyone was very negative, and it soon got to be outright begging and pleading for money and tobacco – dagga was the least of anyone’s problems.
I wrote my letter to the chief re the blocked shower drain and took it down to him. He said he would report it to whomever. I took the opportunity to ask for tobacco at the lower cells, but those who I expected to find had visitors, so I decided to do some exercises in the sunny north yard. The weather is typical highveld autumn which is the best in the world, and makes living in Johannesburg all worth while. I felt very sad at this thought because I am not in a position to make full use of this wonderful climate I went back to the cell to find some very desperate people – like swapping a pair of brand new jeans for ½ packet of tobacco – about R.2, 50. Deals like this are common place. I am very pleased I do not smoke or am dependant on any other drug. It should be a lesson to all smokers to give it up. Many of these prisoners have been in prison before and should have got the message. As far as I know there is only myself and two others who do not smoke – one is a muslim from Zambia. However it is visitor’s day, and I suppose they will bring in Cigarettes and tobacco throughout the day, and relief the day. I am hoping for a legal visit today or tomorrow, and make a plan to get out of here. Lunch was disgusting, but the blocked drain got fixed. Themba’s situation of wanting to go to reception and draw some of his money is a catch 22. The guards usually want R.5, 00 to take someone to reception, but he has no money to give them until he gets to reception, and if he does get there they will only give him R.50, 00 to the cell. While you are out it pays to come back via the shop, but it could cost a further R.5, 00 to be taken to the shop. Meaning that if you could get to the shop every day it would cost you R.10, 00 each time i.e. 20% of your own money.
The evening was boring mainly because our food did not arrive from the kitchen. Later Thembo, who had done a 3 year hotel and catering course explained to us the finer points of being a chef / waiter etc. I learned to use a spoon and fork – silver service style – and other aspects of the trade. This is how they do it on the cruise ships.
Tuesday 4th April. Got ready to phone early and ran to the phone as soon as counted. Of course it was service calls only, and we could not dial out. Two people phoned in for someone else, and I asked them to phone Tevis to phone me, but this plan did not work, and then the phone went out of order completely after Richard started messing with the wires – so that was that.
We had discussions with the cooks re delivery of extra food to Thembo and myself – we have two or three cooks competing for our business – we have agreed to pay R.35, 00 per week for this – but they must deliver. Well today it came together +/- 30 liters of nicely boiled chicken, cut up Kentucky Style. It was very nice, we are all full in Tokyo, and we sold the surplus for R.35, 00. So it was a nice treat and a profitable deal. Talked with Zack for a while – he had also been shot with a .22 rifle at over 500 meters in a guinea fowl shooting accident. The bullet hit the inside of his elbow and then entered his belly. More of a freak accident. He had also been a mandrax dealer in Hillbrow for a good few years. He also says Charlie Tisson’s (a motocross associate of mine) family is the biggest bunch of criminals in Johannesburg.
Wednesday 5th. Visitors day – again – and very uneventful for me. Zack’s visitors came – his sister and a friend. They brought him a new white shirt and a black lace tie, and a dark blue double-breasted suit about 40 years old. He put it all on and there was a slight improvement. Problem now is his hair is much too long, and there is no way to cut it. We all decided that if he trimmed his moustache, shaved closely, and shampooed his hair nicely he would be presentable. To do this in the Hoff Cell though would be difficult. Through the day I suffered a slow build up of stress, and my neck and back muscles were knotting up – I could not determine any particular problem, but probably was to do with Shapiro letting me down, and another week without a legal visit – i.e. no progress. Also I went to the phone room, it was unoccupied and in working order, and I just got my card in when I was dragged out because as the guard said “no phoning on visitor’s day”. I knew this, but asked him why that was. He said “because it is visitor’s day”. I persisted, and asked him to explain the reason to me, so that I may better understand the rules. He said he can not explain the reason, but maybe someone else can explain. I left it at that. Yesterday I exchanged 3 magazines for 2 of yesterday’s news papers, and promised I would keep them in my care and not give them to other people, and would re-exchange the next day. The result was I had to refuse several people to borrow the newspapers, and of course no one understood my reason, and that lead to verbal fights and a lot of bad feelings, which resulted with me going to bed with a couple of draws of dagga, but soon woke up with a hell of a headache, and a lot of knotted up muscles – this persisted throughout the night. I decided I must phone tomorrow and find out what is going on with my attorney. I must say at this stage I smell a big rat because Shapiro has dropped me 3 times so far, and have detected “other interests attitude” in him, and so far he has not come up with a plan of any description.
Thursday 6th. I asked to go to the phone immediately after count – but no – wait until after Paka. I did not go to Paka, but instead straight through to the phone room. It was locked, and 6 people were in front of me. After ½ hour a guard came as slow as he could without stopping with a cup of coffee in his hand. When he was at the door, he made a great show of finishing his coffee and chatting to someone else. The phone room became chaotic when +/- 16 of us were let in. Two fights broke out and the shouting was deafening. Any way after 2, 5 hours I got through to – – – who told me I have a new attorney called Blumberg, and that L – u had been told. He said it was for the better –I. (Blakie Swart and Capt. Mususthawa). Friends of Blumberg who is a captain or something here at Sun City prison. This news was a surprise and a relief to me, as I had already begin to suspect Shapiro of dragging his robe (feet) in several aspects. I.E. he seemed reluctant to contact and talk to Goosens, and to establish facts from the bank – which anybody could do – Anyway the exchange of attorneys seemed like a good idea, – – – must have seen this also. I was very surprised – – – had told L-u some of this story (Tits and Wheels), and not the kids. I am sure this will lead to problems later on, although he may be thinking of “Plan B”. I hope – – – has thought this out properly. For the rest of the day and night I worked on my notes and info for – – – and Blumberg. This is worrying work, because I have to write down extremely delicate information on paper un-coded, and hope it gets into the right hands before anyone else gets to read it – this is my biggest nightmare, as a discovery here would be disastrous.
Friday 7th. I decided to miss breakfast and take a leisurely shit, shave and shower. At least try to trim the beard which is now 5 weeks old. But after count and roll call was to take place. This was announced at first count. So basically we had to have breakfast, and then had to go to roll call in the south yard after breakfast. So away I go, without ablutions, and before I get to Paka my name is called out for an emergency court appearance. This could be good news, so I ran back to the cell to get my bag, put on clean shirt and shorts, and then off to Hoff Cell. Although this was early 08h45, it took until noon before we were on our way to court in the police truck, which at this time of day was quick on the freeway – and uneventful this time. Infact I took notice for the first time exactly where the prison is, and the extent of it. It is larger than I had thought it was. At the court building we went through the normal procedure, which I don’t think I have described before. The truck drives in under the building to cell level below the courts. The prisoners are unloaded under armed police guard, and walk +/- 30 meters to the first barred gate, where the police truck crew hand over to the court police, and the list is signed for. Then a fat sergeant with at least 4 front teeth missing calls out our names. This is confusing to everyone, because with out the front teeth the pronunciation is not possible for him, and he has to repeat often. With prisoners stepping forward, and stepping back, unsure of whether their name had been called or not, and with each re-pronunciation it gets louder. At the same time we are handed a piece of folded paper, and collect a piece of carbon paper to put in the fold. This is to put on a thumb print (left for me and right for everyone else), and then at another table further along our names are called out again, but this time with relevant information such as Court No. name, date, charge etc. Then the paper is torn at the fold. The original going to the court and the carbon copy returned to the prisoner later with additional info such as remand date, sentence, or bail etc. (Later Note: It was here I begin to formulate a plan for an administrative escape – by somehow exchanging this piece of paper with someone who had been granted bail or released. The prisoners for a particular court are called into cells under that particular court No. ready to walk up the stairs to the court box when called by what I suppose is the court bailiff. Having done all this, and on my way to the cell under court 13, I saw Zack in the after court cell – still in his blue suit. I stopped to chat. He told me he had been to court and no witnesses had turned up, but he got his bail reduced from R.1 500, 00 to R.1 000, 00, and he had phoned his sister and she agreed to collect the money and “bail him out” for the very last time. I was in the cell long enough to change out of my “T” shirt into long sleeve shirt and tie when lunch was called – today 3 x jam sandwiches and a kind of mince pepper soup in a plastic bucket – about 40 liters of soup. I borrowed a cut off coke can from Ricky Abbott (Jimmy Abbott’s brother), and poured it full of soup. This perked me up quite a bit. The lesson – bring something for the soup next time. After lunch Itzie Blumberg arrived and we went to a private consultation room to discuss my case with the main emphasis on a bail application, Itzie said he would go to work on it, and visit me early next week with a final plan. He had money and phone cards for me and a box of clothes. We decided I take R.150, 00 and 2 R.50, 00 phone cards with me. He would bring the rest of the cash and the box of the clothes to me at the prison. I told him to make it a legal visit, and not just a friends and family visit. When we had finished discussions I went back to the after court cell – Zack and Ricky had gone, probably in the first truck. I had put the R.150, 00 in my R. shoe and the phone cards in my L. shoe. I checked laces, very tight and triple knotted, so they could not be easily taken off on the truck ride home?? I have learned from observing other prisoners what should be brought to court. 1. A kit bag, max R.20, 00, a plastic mug and spoon, food if you have it, soap, towel, tooth brush, change of clothes, toilet paper, and a jacket. With R.20, 00 you can send out for Kentucky Chicken or a Hamburger or similar etc. I have noticed in the prison, and in the court cells the guards make a big show of eating and drinking in front of you. Especially if they have something like cold drink or steak sandwich, or something we can not get. In fact I had to laugh this morning when a white guard had a mid sized bottle of coke with about 10 mm left in it and kept putting it to his lips and pretending to drink it, and then singing to attract attention to it.
When we arrive back at the prison the checking in guards have their cans of coke lined up and sip from them during check-in, in front of all the tired and thirsty prisoners from the truck, as if we do not have much more serious problems.
The truck ride had one half hearted robber on board, and I think a new prisoner may have lost a few rand. I kept my eye on him. After check-in (thumb print) we went into the pens. There are 12 pens – 6 x 2 m and 2-3m high sloping corrugated iron roof. About the half hearted robber. I watched him very carefully; he was still on the truck and appeared to be last on board. When I looked again the police were looking in the truck and closing the door. I looked all around to find the robber – he was nowhere to be seen – I heard the truck start and drive off. I looked very hard to spot the robber, and he was still nowhere to be seen. The guards certainly had a problem with the count. I think the half hearted robber has in fact very cleverly escaped. He probably paid off the two police crew on the truck. This could cost less than R.1 000, 00.
Back to the pens, and I find Zack whose sister had not yet arrived with the bail money. We chatted for a while +/- 19h00 we collected our 2 slices of bread and went off to the Hoff Cells. Zack and I teamed up with a mandrax smoker named Joe van Starden. He was 22 years old. A nice young guy with an education up to std. 7 – 8. We made a triple bed on the floor, talked for awhile and had a good night. This cell was exceptionally well ventilated and the fresh air was good for me. There was quite an assortment of prisoners – 5-6 whites. I have begun to notice the types of wounds and injuries many of the prisoners have suffered. A lot of cross-eyed people or unsynchronized eyes, which usually is the result of a stab wound in the head near one of the eyes, or been hit on the side of the head with a knuckle duster or iron bar. Also the cut wounds from a knife or panga – God knows where they were stitched up in the first instance – certainly no attempt at cosmetics was made – maybe the prison hospital. There is always a nerve that has been cut that never ever comes right. I have seen guys, black and white, that have been cut from the outside of ankle to thigh to hip to ribs to under armpit along the inside of the arm to the wrist, and across the hand to the web or fingertip. Also from between the legs up across the belly and chest to throat and chin. These cuts cause tremendous damage to nerves, muscles and arteries. It also seems to be a common trick to bend the victim’s arm at the elbow, and then shoot through the wrist or forearm and upper arm with one shot. Not to mention faces and heads smashed against barred doors and concrete floors. This kind of treatment usually demands big stitching jobs, I guess at the prison hospital, although I know some are taken to Garden City clinic. I would say 20 – 25% of prisoners show signs of these kinds of injuries from old scars to stitches still in tact. I do not know what circumstances lead to these situations. About half of these attacks occur outside the prison, and half inside the prison. One must certainly avoid these situations.
Saturday 8th. Woke up feeling pretty good – in fact had 4 – 6 draws of dagga after matabelle porridge, and a nice warm shower. Trevor, a black guy from the cell next door, was told to look after me on court trip arranged for myself, Zack and one other, to be taken back to C1 section by what we call a “speed cop”. It costs R.10, 00, but saves 4 -5 hours sitting on the floor in a lousy cell. Later in the morning Zach’s bail was called out, and he put on his blue suit again and shortly after he was gone. I hope he comes right, but I do not think he will. With the money I brought back, I squared up with Japan’s debts, and re-purchased trading material such as sugar, syrup, tobacco, dagga etc.
Determined not to run out of money again. However the shop was closed, and I could not buy anything there – being Saturday. I bought a little linen bag with a string-pull neck to keep money in and put it in your underpants – not a bad idea, it works well. Before supper we had a meeting in Japan to tighten up economy, and for each of us to be responsible for various aspects of prison life and survival. – I.E. Thembo – negotiations, Victor – delivery of stuff from kitchen, Myself – money and shopping (that is legitimate shopping), Richard was asked to leave Japan, and generally be more businesslike, especially with our dealings with China – I.E. no more freebies – this will be a shock to some systems. Richard was devastated, but did not leave, and is still helping himself to Japan’s supplies. Oh well tomorrow is another day. I had about 6 – 8 strong draws of dagga tonight and fell into bed – however it was too much and my head was swimming. I was sick, nearly throwing up, and I stopped breathing 3 times. It took 3 hours for me to settle down at about 23h00. I decided through this, that I would not smoke dagga again.
Sunday 9th April 1995. I woke up about 03h 30 feeling pretty good – I got up, cut my nails, showered, cleaned my teeth and went back to bed again at 04h 30 and slept until 07h30. Everyone was up polishing the floor and cleaning windows etc. etc. Getting ready for the weekly Sunday morning inspection. There were 2 complaints for the inspector (Actually a white Captain) – One for medical attention, and one for having to pay R.5, 00 for his bed for the Chinas. The Captain went and shouted at the Chinas in Afrikaans. However the complainer was probably marked for life. I went to breakfast hopping for Matabelle porridge or rolled oats – we got neither, but good quality Mielie Pap, made the way I make it, and I had taken extra sugar in a cigarette packet – not bad. I ate ¾ of it and gave the rest to George with the cancered lip.
I will tell you about the Mandrax Smoker from the Hoff Cell; 22 year old Joey van Starden – whose name I genuinely guessed first time. This really shook him – me too. Anyway a week ago he was drinking and smoking with his mate or mates. They started to smoke mandrax and lost count at 9 or 10, and he thinks 12 smokes. The next thing he knows is he wakes up in Jeppe St. police cells with a charge of housebreaking and robbery on him complete with evidence – TV. VCR & CDs etc. He says he has no memory of it at all. He also has a previous on this count. His dad is pissed off. He is a head porter at the Johannesburg hospital. I had mentioned Ricky Abbott – Wrong, it was Charlie Abbott (Jimmy Abbot’s brother). He is in for child abuse. His other brother is in for wife abuse. He has been awaiting trial for just over 12 months. He is in one of the single cells up stairs. There are several guys in for child abuse. By all accounts Ricky Abbott is a very dangerous man and can apply a lot of pressure from outside when required. The guards treat him with the greatest respect. He says he will be out in 2 months – acquitted. After breakfast I spent the rest of the day working on plan “A” for Blumberg (and plan “B” for myself. Lunch was the usual, but with some nice looking pot roast of sheep. We put our smuggling team into operation, and got about 5kg of it up to the cell. We sold R.10, 00 of it and the rest was for a now leaner Japan. I carried on working on plan “A”.
I had a half hearted challenge from a loud mouthed lead China from cell 12 next door, named “Pappi” – I call him Poopy. He came in shouting and gesturing towards me – obviously bad mouthing me in Zulu. I gestured back in an aggressive and derogatory manner which stopped his chat. We ended up standing face to face, and he soon decided he had to go elsewhere. I suspect whatever his case, he expected some support from my cell inmates. I am happy with the confrontation.
I loaned my phone card to Archie today to phone his wife. Archie is the one from my cell who helped me with bedding on return from court last time. The one that had to give away his daughter. Later he told me he had got through and the son was being taken to school by the downstairs neighbours, and all arrangements had been made for his wife’s operation next week. There is no electricity in the flat and very little food – fuck what a story. Any way it is a big worry off Archie’s mind, it could have been worse. Also Thembo phoned his parents in Bulawayo, and heard that his father; who is a lawyer is on his way to visit Thembo tomorrow. He has engaged a local lawyer and they are going to try to bring his case to a conclusion A.S.A.P. Thembo told me tonight he thinks he is going to be sentenced, and is going to kill himself if he has to do time. I told him that is the worst thing he could ever do to his parents – I think this gave him a shock, as his tears dried up and he got back to normal. Theo has 10 more days at being the Japan’s white servant. Big George has been found guilty, and a probation officer will recommend sentence – probably rehabilitation for a year or two.
This is probably what will happen to Theo as well. Anyway the cell is in a fairly jovial mood tonight, although there is individual conflict. Our policy of aggressively collecting debts has raised a few hackles. I have learned that most prisoners (95%) are bums. When they borrow, they have neither the means nor the intention to pay back the debt. It is a show of wealth, means, friendship and a good story for a few days, where they tell you their money is coming, but in the end no money comes, and they get all surprised and nasty when you insist on repayment, forgetting that it was given to them cheerfully – they eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Actually this is the problem of all of Africa and its native inhabitants – It is the nature of the beast and is called “Shia shia”. I believe the intention to re-pay may be there until the moment the gift is given, and then the intention to pay back evaporates.
I have decided to go to hospital tomorrow to get something for my ringworm.
Monday 10th. After count I tried to go with George to hospital, but guard said No, he was only told to take George, however he must have mentioned me to the chief as he came back in ½ hour to take me, there were the usual delays, and by the time I got there 09h 15 the doctor had gone. I came back to the shop at which I bought 2 x packets of tennis biscuits, 1 x pack of BB tobacco, 1 x pack Peter Stuyvesant, 1 x tin curried fish, large pack of tea which totaled R.29, 00. I only had R.40, 00 and owed R.5, 00 to cell 10 and R.5, 00 to the Chief, so that was that, I now have R.1, 00 left. Thembo was called off early for special court appearance – I hope it is good news for him. I told the chief I had missed the doctor, and asked him to help me get there early tomorrow. The chief said I could make an appointment with the dispensary man when he comes to the section at about 11h00. I had bought today’s “Citizen” and begin to read it. The chief sent a message for me at 11h15 to say the dispensary man had come and an appointment had been made – good, the relationship is becoming useful. With this kind of treatment – which is obvious to the other prisoners, and the fact that Thembo is away, I notice I have a new and weird status. A new and positive respect from the 4 whites in the cell, and a different kind of respect from the blacks in the cell; in line with the new thrift policy within Japan. I have refused a lot of requests that up until recently Thembo would have granted, such as tobacco, newspapers, use of pen, sugar, tea, bread etc. And experienced the pathetic hurt look of surprise when they are refused. And I also add there is nothing for anyone today until you get off your bum and do something. In other words you have to contribute in some way. There is anger and disappointment at first, followed by slow comprehension of the situation, and the respect is there again. Another aspect of my status is the ongoing cold war between Japan and China. I have a lot of reluctant respect from blacks who are supposed to be loyal to China, but would rather be loyal to Japan. It is an interesting position I find myself in, and it is beginning to hang on me nicely – we will see how it develops. The blacks are generally quicker to forgive a heated moment than the whites.
It is an odd situation, bearing in mind we are all awaiting trial prisoners and therefore in a temporary community, but just how temporary, no one is sure, and it takes on an air of permanency – confusing.
I decided to go to lunch which was Namibian fish – I am in well enough with the cooks to signal what portion I want, and to get it. Two big fish today. However there was a crackdown going on against food being taken away from the kitchen, or sold from the kitchen illicitly. This caused great panic as all the usual smuggling routes were blocked by guards. I had to leave Japan’s bag of fish in the kitchen – I don’t know if this blockade by the guards will persist or not. We will have to find different methods in case it does – I am working on the hand over being made at the plate hand out. The stealing is in fact mountainous – with the ordinary prisoners in fact starving with the small portions being dished out. The portions are in fact enough for a white man, but not for the blacks and coloureds. Most of the prisoners are in fact obsessed with food, and panic if it looks like they will go hungry – they eat piles of pap, mealie rice, stamped mealie and brown bread – far too much. They work on the theory that “what doesn’t fatten, fills”. Yesterday I got 6 apples for a ½ loaf and 2 pinches of tobacco – another case of giving away food for smoke. When lunch was over I received 3 nice fish from the whites, as a personal present to have for supper. I will share the tin of curried fish from the shop with members of Japan here at present. I am keeping tobacco and cigarettes for Thembo when he returns tomorrow. The fish supper with peri peri salt was very tasty and filling – there was no need to open the curried fish, so we are still OK for tomorrow night. Had a late cup of tea and went to bed +/- 21h00, I was very tired. The cell bomb broke down, and had to be re-wired and re-spooned, which is why the late tea.
Tuesday 11th. I got up early – 06h00, it was unusually cold – had shower, not quite freezing, and got into clean ‘T’ shirt, pressed trousers, clean socks and waited for escort to the doctor to have my ringworms diagnosed, and hopefully collect some anti-fungus mutti to treat the worm. Everything went well until the section gate, when the bloody guard wanted to see my doctor’s appointment card – (there is no such thing) he just wanted to make things difficult, so I went straight back to the chief and told him about this shit. The chief came with me and we both walked all over this animal, and caught an escort to the hospital. A different story here – they were expecting me and showed me to the doctor immediately, who of course diagnosed ringworm and prescribed an anti fungi cream called medaspore cream, but the prison did not have any, and they would have to go out to a chemist and buy it – so I can’t have it until tomorrow. I met a mostly black American from New Jersey who made for an interesting chat while at the hospital. I told him I had been to New Jersey, and did he perhaps know Sherman Cooper? He said he had heard of Sherman, but his wife has met Sherman and knows him well.
Back at the section (C1) I tried to join the tail end of the breakfast queue, but the queue was from a particular cell, and I stood out like a white man in a crowd of blacks. I explained I had been to the hospital and therefore missed breakfast – no good, so I walked around the yard and did some exercises for ½ hour and then to cell and had ½ packet of tennis biscuits. I actually do not need breakfast.
About 11h30 I received a call for a legal visit, and managed to get there quickly. A Mr. Ronash (The Indian Guard) phoned Blumberg who said he will be there about 13h00 – OK. I did some more exercises in the hall until he arrived just before 13h00, and hit me with a sledge hammer when he told me the police know I am not Beukes. So based on that info we carried on with discussions, and after Blumberg handed me some clothes and other stuff through the normal visitors facility, this was very welcome and consisted of U.Pants, Jeans, boots, socks, shirts, shorts, sweets, tobacco and toiletries. Blumberg simply threw it all over the wire mesh fence separating the crowd of visitors from the crowd of prisoners. I got back to the cell just before lock-up time, and was pleased to see someone had smuggled some chicken pieces – still warm. After 2 pieces of this things were not so bad. This bucket of chicken was actually mine (in cell law) as I had organized the theft and smuggling job. Blumberg told me we would plead guilty to a minor charge (the police would be happy with that), and most of our work would now be on mitigation. The rest of the day was normal, except I tried on my new clothes – good fit, very happy. At night the guys in Japan smoked a lot of dagga and were laughing and giggling until after midnight. I had made up my mind a few days ago to never again smoke that shit – I am pleased with that decision. I must remember tomorrow to ask them what was so funny.
Wednesday 12th. Another visitor’s day this means no phone and endless lists of visitors. I spent the whole day working on my case except for a short exercise break, and a trip to the dispensary to see if my ringworm mutti had arrived – of course it had not, and I was told they went to the local pharmacy which had to order it in – it will be here tomorrow. I find this strange as the doctor had told me that ringworm is common here, especially in the summer – maybe summer is too long gone?? We at Japan had long negotiations with the cooks for the supply of lunch meats and other items from the kitchen. I told them their job is not only to supply, but to deliver to the cell 11, and will only be paid when delivery is made – the guards are having a crack-down on smuggling at the moment. The cooks agreed to this and managed to make a delivery of cooked pork – +/- 3kg, some bread and sugar. This service is valued at R.5, 00. I also gave the guys in Japan a talking to about doing their share in obtaining supplies, and helping with the smuggling – I have been caught twice, and now know with the crack-down, as I say I stand out like a white man in a crowd of kaffirs, – so someone else will have to do the dirty work sometimes.
I even told Thembo to stop giving away his cigarettes and tobacco – because I will never refuse to buy for him if I can afford it, but I am buying too often because he gives it away to others – he accepted this. I told the others they will get nothing if they don’t produce. This had some effect, Richard bought a tin of fish, and Victor helped with the meat smuggling. We have made welcome “Tulani” in to Japan. He is about 30, clean cut, no scars, no tattoos, brave and clean, and does a good job of everything. He knows his way around the prison and is a low key type of guy. Big George with the lip, today told me he went for an interview with a probation officer who turned out to be a 30 year old woman, who asking a lot of personal questions told him he had had enough chances, and she was going to recommend that he get a straight sentence of 2 to 5 years. I don’t think this will bother him too much. It seems that probation officers are often called in for their opinion on sentence, especially in cases of drugs. George is a confirmed dagga smoker, and is ½ ways hooked on mandrax – he is fully prepared to swap all his food for dagga. The funny thing is, dagga increases your appetite, so you get caught both ways. George has apparently done four years, and was on a suspended sentence when he was last caught. He used to work in the prison kitchen, and seems to like it. While he was telling me this, I heard from his friend / bed mate (Robert Eric). Robert has been smoking dagga since he was 14 years old. He says now that dagga does nothing to him, he has to add a button (mandrax tablet) to feel anything. He is 34 years old now, and is in for housebreaking, with a previous – not much chance here. Supper tonight was most interesting and enjoyable. I managed to buy 4 raw chickens, cut into legs, wings and breasts – KFC style. Thembo; being a chef would cook them. We used the bottom of a 25l plastic container as a pot. Put the chicken pieces into a plastic bag and into the water in the pot. We then put our bomb (Spoon Element) into the water, and a blanket over the top, and let it go for 1, 3 hours. In the meantime we made a fire by taking strips of plastic bags folded with strips of sheet or blanket, and rolled tightly and forced into a cut off food can to stand upright. We then took the standard stainless steel dish as a frying pan, supported over the fire on 3 used jam tins. I was amazes at the amount of slow heat in this device. It was 175 – 200mm high, and 100 mm in diameter, and it was enough to fry these four chickens after they were in the bomb for 11/2 hours. We fried it with Aromat peri peri, and it was absolutely delicious. We also reheated the pork from lunch – very good. And a profit for sales to others in the cell, and adjoining cells. After supper we chatted till 22h00, and to bed.
Thursday 13th. I slept to 02h30, and woke up with a terrible stiff neck and partial migraine. I could not get comfortable. I got up, cleaned teeth, splashed face and went back to bed, determined to relax – starting with feet, and working up slowly to body, neck and head. With real effort it worked and I ended up partly asleep in a kind of relaxed dream-land 06h00, I got up feeling pretty good.
I forgot to mention yesterday I bought polish for my boots, and at least 4 prisoners wanted to polish my boots. So naturally I let them, and it was a real pleasure to put them on this morning. I had grapes and a pear for breakfast which I bought from a visited prisoner yesterday, and a lunch bar I had bought from the prison shop – nice change. I then finished writing up my case for Blumberg to check out. I am starting to feel a bit confident about my case now.
Lunch, and the afternoon was a bit uneventful, except the 30 eggs I had smuggled into the cell turned out to be raw. Boiling them in the bomb would not be a problem, but frying or scrambling them would present problems – we could not get cooking oil, mainly because those who had it did not have eggs, and would not give oil to me – also we would have to make another fire, and were short of fuel material. I decided to scramble them dry in a standard stainless steel kitchen dish – this was OK except it had to be constantly stirred, and the stove constantly stoked with bits of plastic and cardboard. I scrambled 3 lots of 8 eggs, and hard boiled the rest. Seasoned with Aromat peri peri salt. It turned out to be pretty good. Went to sleep early and had a good night. As a matter of interest I renamed some of the prisoners for my own amusement. Richard – Ricardo Von Tonder, the famous farmer from the Free State. Victor – Victorio Cortez, the famous gunfighter from Soweto. Theo – Theodora von Wintergarten, the famous Cape Town block man. Thembo – Thamborina Chandelier, the famous Diepkloof convict. Shadrack – Shadrack Schoeman, minister for education, and son of the soil. Grows with sun and water.
Friday 14th. I had an excellent sleep – very relaxed – I would say it took me no more than 3 minutes to relax and go to sleep. I decided to go to breakfast and get bread for Thembo, and caught Papino’s eye and signaled for oats – I got oats – very good. Then a big surprise – because it was Good Friday we were all 500 blacks and 13 whites subjected to religious service by 2 Zulu priests with sheets around their shoulders. They were also prisoners with bare feet. One thing for sure they believed what they were saying. It was interesting for ½ hour then I left for the North Yard and did ½ hour of exercises. After exercise, to my surprise the hospital dispensary was open, and I got my anti-fungal cream – not the one prescribed, but I hoped the equivalent. I can now treat my Ringworm which is getting very big now. We got 5 new white prisoners into our cell yesterday. Two are accused of murder, and they admit to me at least that they are guilty, and 2 of housebreaking, also admit to me that they are guilty, and one other that I can see has been in jail many times before. I myself have said nothing to anyone in prison about my case, or my life in general. In fact when asked, I just say I am not going to discuss it. A bit blunt, but most accept it. More discussions with the cooks today re smuggling food from the kitchen. I proposed that if we get proper proportions at the kitchen I do not need much for supper. This worked, and at lunch time I got good helpings of meat and vegetables. I always give half my mealie pap, mealie rice or oats away to big George – he shares it among the whites. If George is not there I give it to anyone I know. We ended up with cold beef stew, made a little better with Maggie peri peri, fondue seasoning with brown bread and tea. I treated my Ringworm again in the evening, and at night the itch had eased up a bit – this could improve my sleep.
Saturday 15th. Well, one good thing about being in prison is that you can’t get killed on the road. I spent most of the morning writing down words and phrases to be translated into Zulu by our new Japan member Shadrack, and having it checked by Richard. A nice surprise a t breakfast was a nice supply of apples. I managed to get six and also I managed to get oats again and took my own additional sugar, and ate ½ of it. I did a lot of exercises through the day. After lock-up we did a big cell clean up in preparation for the Sunday morning inspection. During this time all hell broke loose – one guy was accused of stealing 2 kowlkop (1/4 loaves), he tried to blame a young guy who was one of his co-accused, and the young guy fought his way out of it very nicely, but not without involving 6 -7 others who took sides and began fighting among themselves. You have to keep well out of the way. When 7 or 8 guys are fighting in such confined space in between the steel double beds, concrete floor and concrete walls – however it eventually fizzled out with minimal injury to the participants – IE cut eyes, bleeding noses and some loose teeth. It is easy to get hurt badly in these circumstances – everything is hard and sharp. Later we nearly had a recurrence when one black guy came into Japan, picked up what was left of our fish and bread, and started to take it. I grabbed his arm and started to twist him down ready to kick his face. I saw he was desperately pointing to where Victor sleeps. I thought oh oh, something wrong, and shouted for Victor. Victor came and said he told the guy he could have the scraps. I released him and told the guy “OK”. But gave Victor hell for not telling anyone else, and anyway first choice of scraps is always to Theo – he should have given the scraps directly to the guy, and in the light of the previous fight should have known better – it could have been serious. More tension – Richard has been thrown out of Japan by Thembo by way of being a sourpuss, and being particularly useless – I agree with this. Richard is being asked to sleep alone on the top bunk, and is not taking it nicely. Richard said he does not want to sleep on the top bunk- then China said we should separate the beds. In fact during the afternoon Danny from China woke me up to tell me to separate the beds. I asked him “who said so”. Danny said the chief, I said I do not believe him, and that was that, he went away. I was surprised to see later that China had separated their beds, and Richard was making his bed on top of mine. I went to China and asked what is going on. Four Chinas paid us a visit after we refused a request to go to them, and we finally got rid of Richard. I made it quite clear to Richard that we will not feed him any more, nor supply him with anything else. It is a bad time at the prison over Easter with everyone out of everything. The smokers are having a bad time. Things improved when a big parcel arrived for one of the murderers from his mother. We even got freshly made borewors rolls and some nice rusks. I think a lot of tobacco was also distributed as well. The story around the jail is there will be no visitors on Monday because it is a holiday – this of course is so stupid, as it is the one day when visitors can in fact come to visit without worrying about work. The Richard deal is that he swaps places with big George Badenhorst (The Lip) and a bit of a threat against Danny from China – In fact I have told Danny I no longer accept his authority as a China.
Sunday 17th. Date change. I think I have made a mistake somewhere back from here. Anyway today was uneventful, and I won’t waste paper describing the day – Oh one thing, I started designing tattoos for the guys, hearts, arrows and scrolls etc.
Monday 18th April 1995. EASTER Monday, also uneventful up until lunch time. We bought 2 raw chickens and arranged to have them cooked in another cell and sent up to us by rope after 18h00. They arrived at 19h00 and were just perfect. During the afternoon and evening I designed some tattoos, as the tattooist in our cell was very busy – I drew what I think the prisoner wants, and then modify it for size and shape until he is happy with it, and then draw it on him where he wants to have it e.g. shoulder, chest. The tattooist burns rubber from shoe soles – although his time we had a rubber “O” Ring in the cell – when it cools, he powders it as finely as possible, and then mixes it carefully in water. Sometimes boot polish is added, then with a needle fixed to a tooth brush handle with string or cotton the tattoo is made. The skin is punctured and lifted until it breaks, and the ink is pushed under the two flaps of skin, and the skin pushed down again over the ink to heal. Based on current statistics in South Africa at least 9 people in this cell will have AIDS, and the method for tattooing does not take this into consideration. I designed and drew three tattoos tonight. All of them had girl’s names or initials included in the tattoo. These tattoos all seem so stupid to me, as the work is poor quality, and my artwork is also poor quality, and the hygiene is also poor quality. The guys will definitely be sentenced, and it is unlikely the girl in question will still be around when they come out, and it says JAILBIRD loud and clear. You are telling the whole world that you have been in jail, and have a criminal record, which as I said earlier is the reason 25% of the prisoners are in prison. Ah well, all have their own ideas.
Sketch of Tattoo art work:
Tuesday 18th. Got up early and put on my freshly washed and pressed jeans and shirt and highly polished boots – read through all my legal notes, and decided I was ready for my attorney, who I fully expected to come to visit me today after a very boring Easter. Last night I called David in to ask him for the R.6, 00 he promised us for yesterday – but to be polite I asked him about his visit to court first – he was simply remanded until a date in May, and his Public Defender lawyer was no use at all – his truck ride back to the prison was uneventful, but during the night in the court cell he had both of his watches stolen, one of which he knew the culprit, and by reporting it to the chief, they went and got it today. At breakfast in the court cell he told me of an incident which was quite scary. A small argument started, and one black prisoner pulled out a knife from his back pocket and stabbed the other in the top of the head causing a terrific flow of blood from the victim. Three guards came in wielding batons – tonfa batons (PR24s) – which I know they do not know to use correctly, but the knife man chased them out of the dining room, and they went for reinforcements, and eventually subdued him, and put him in a single cell. They took the victim to hospital. David said the knife man was back in the hoff cell the next day, hopefully without his knife. It goes to show how quickly you can get hurt, cut or broken in a prison surrounded by violent maniacs the whole time. I am constantly on guard for this kind of violence brewing up – I do not want to have scars like some that I have seen here. Regarding his debt, he agreed to pay us back 6 kowlkops in 2 days, I agreed to this. Breakfast was good for me as my special bowl of oats was waiting for me with extra sugar, and only just enough room left on the plate for milk – very nice, but of course I could only eat about 1/3 of it – this was good for George who always sits close to me at meal times, and always gets my leftovers. By the way; George is now part and parcel of Japan now, and a very useful member. He will be going soon, unfortunately for Japan. When Richard was thrown out of Japan 3 days back, he accused Thembo of making love to him and promising to pay Richards bail of R.1 000, 00. This was a wild claim, and I do not know what Richard stood to gain by it – but it prompted me to change Thembo’s name to Thamborina Chandelier, the famous poofter from Diepkloof – this name / title stuck, but Thembo takes it in good spirit, and it is always good for a laugh in the right context.
About 11h30 to 12h00 my call came through for a legal visit. Mr. Romesh the Indian guard brought it personally. I went through to the interview room, and waited for Itzie Blumberg who said he would be there about 13h00 to 13h30. It was a very big let-down when by 14h30 he did not come and there was a report of traffic congestion on the freeways, but I did really not know what the problem was. I am now ready to face my case – I have thought of, and wrote down everything, and today I hoped we could formulate a final plan – Infact prior to this disappointment I was highly excited – heart rate 85, it is normally 70 -72. I had nothing else to do but return to the cell section – with a feeling of another day wasted. Somebody had smuggled cooked chicken from the kitchen, and it was still hot – good, I had missed lunch, and a plate of hot chicken was welcome. I finished reading the Citizen (news paper), and played a game of chess with George. I was very rusty, he beat me, but only just, I am sure I will beat him next time. George made the set out of green sunlight soap, and the side of a cardboard carton – it was good enough. Thembo is very concerned, as he has not heard from his father, who is here from Zimbabwe to do what he can for Thembo. We had an aggressive move from China at lock-up time when they removed Shadrack from the cell. He was Japanese, and useful, but he did not object, and we did not support him – spilt milk. I called David in again to ask where are the kowlkops you were to bring?? He had eaten them, and asked for 2 more days to pay his R.6, 00 debt – he offered to let us keep his watch or tracksuit pants until then. I said no! we will sell the watch and keep the R.6, 00, and return the change. The watch is worth about R.40, 00 here. The final arrangement is that he will pay by lock-up time Thursday, or we will sell the watch. This of course made for a bad relation between us, and he was starving, and to give us his bread is going to hurt him. I am having similar arguments with several other people to whom I have sold on credit. From +/- 7 days ago Japan does not extend credit – it is a good lesson in life, if you loan something, you only make bad friends when you ask for it back, and it is the African way to avoid repayment of debts. This is from Government down. It is part of their culture “shia shia”. It is this culture that pre-empts payment of rent, rates, electricity, water, telephone etc. You always have to ask for it, and fate usually has it that when you ask, they haven’t got.
Wednesday 19th. Because my attorney did not get to see me yesterday, I felt sure he would today, so I got dressed up in my new shirt and jeans again – read through my notes again, and went off to breakfast – met Papino on the way and told him I want oats. The message got through, and I got with double sugar and syrup was waiting for me at the counter, of course I could not eat it all, and George scored again. George has finally got things working for him, and is scheduled to go to Rand Clinic tomorrow to have his lip looked at. By the look of the report he has with him they are to take a sample of the lip and send it to the lab, and then decide what to do with it. The melanoma has effected ½ of his bottom lip, from bottom of gums to below his lip in front and on to his chin. It is on the RHS of the lip. A bit more about George; I think I stated previously that he had an interview with a probation officer, who was to advise the magistrate what to do with him. The office who was a 35 year old white woman kept on saying he was not telling the truth in such things as, that his brother-in-law had died, and that George later referred to his brother-in-law. The officer could not understand that his sister had married again. George had a scrap iron collection business in Warmbaths, and he lived in an old farm building there where he stockpiled his scrap, but came back to his flat in Newlands for long weekends. The officer thought he was lying because he slept in two places. I saw this woman later today, and could easily see that anything slightly out of the norm would be a big puzzle to her. There is no way her life’s experience could be adequate to cope with this job – let alone the scrap iron business. The probation lady eventually informed George she was going to recommend prison, as he had had enough chances she was to see him again today – George was called to the interview rooms but she did not pitch up – so much for that. Apparently the officer told George there are rehabilitation facilities in prison, but George told me that during a 4 year stretch he had received a 10 minute interview with regard to rehabilitation – George is charged with dagga dealing and mandrax. Oh yes, the officer also told George she could smell dagga on his breath. I know for a fact George has not smoked dagga for the last 36 days – the officer again said he was lying. The smell of dagga smoke is on everyone’s clothes here. The air is thick with it particularly at night. It is another example of limited life experience getting it wrong. After breakfast I returned to the cell after a short walk around the south yard with nothing much to do except wait for the attorney. I figure he would be here around 12h30 t0 13h00, and when 13h45 had passed I decided he was not coming, however on my way to lunch I was called, and went straight to the interview rooms. Itzie Blumberg and Mrs. Shelly Fine arrived shortly after. We discussed new developments in the case – I handed over the latest information for him based on a revised statement. I also handed over about 20 pages of my narrative (this narrative) up to Friday the 14th April. I noticed Mrs. Fine was very interested, and wanted to be sure not to miss a page – as if it was her favourite soap opera – I remember that popular Australian TV series about a women’s prison – I guess some people watch it. I also got from Itzie R.100, 00, and a 72 page exercise book with Irish lines?? I must say I have not heard of Irish lines before. They will be most suitable. I got on the back of a queue coming back from having visitors.
At section C1 I ducked off to the shop and bought biscuits, bar-ones, tinned fish, cigarettes, tobacco, matches and a news paper – “The Star” – I got to cell 11 in time to be counted and locked up. I read the Star from cover to cover, nothing good going on. The prisons are up to 201% capacity – (design capacity at least). The cold war between China and Japan blew up again when I refused to give, or loan China a tea bag – shortly after one of Chinas members “Danny” came to tell me I may not use the bomb to heat water. I had previously told Danny that I do not accept his authority as a China when he lied to me about an instruction from the chief. I reminded him that I do not accept his authority, and he went away. Although I had stopped drinking tea; this meant that maybe other Japan members may be deprived of hot water because of my action. I decided to go to China and see if I could patch it up. I based my argument on ownership of the bomb, pointing out that Japan had overhauled it the last 3 times, and had installed new spoons, wires and plastic bindings. I made no attempt to explain my refusal to loan / give a tea bag. I also pointed out that I myself do not drink tea, and therefore have no use for the bomb. This was accepted, and Japan was granted full use of the bomb – until next time??. Four black prisoners were playing cards most of the afternoon, and at times the shouting became ear splitting – their heads are half a meter apart, and all shouting at once. I had to tell them to shut up often. I have noticed over the last 4 – 5 days the constant shouting is starting to get me down, in fact I think it is starting to affect my ears. Also the rude method of interruption used by the blacks when wanting to speak to someone already conducting a conversation. I have been making a study of this annoying habit in an attempt to understand it and explain it. I have some information, but will put it in writing later. As part of the same habit, they will turn away from you during a conversation to talk to another person – who may be just passing by – about a completely different topic. So they do not only interrupt other people’s conversations, they also interrupt their own conversations – sometimes even when they are doing the talking – mid sentence – but usually when the other person is doing the talking. It is as if they have decided before or after the conversation has started that they are not going to concentrate on what is being said either by themselves or the other person – this may explain some of the education problems currently associated with black people. There is also the aspect of status as to who has the most important thing to say, and also the turn of mind that this is jail, and therefore manners do not matter – in fact it should be just the opposite to keep the peace if nothing else – lesser manners can be kept in the realm of correctional employees. Any way, more on this later. Oh, another thing which relates to the noisy card game was the dealing – the players would pick up their cards before the dealer completed the deal. If there was a mistake in the deal, and one player had good cards, he would refuse to hand back his good cards for re-dealing, even if he had one too many, and insist the other players should sort it out. The cards are so old and frayed that mis-deals frequently occur. I pointed out, that if the players wait until the deal is complete before picking up and looking at their cards, these problems would disappear. They had never heard of this before, and all thought it was a wonderful idea, and would revolutionize jail card dealing. It was much quieter for me also – which was my main motivation. We had a lot of cooked pork smuggled from the kitchen for supper, and we in Japan all over-ate. The smuggling pipeline is working well for me and Japan.
Thursday 20th. Despite over eating, I slept well enough, and started writing first thing, and ate some biscuits for breakfast. The story for today concerns Thembo – I think I mentioned, he had been having trouble getting to reception to collect his money, in fact he had been trying for about 3 weeks, but it is only about 10 days since he went to court and was given some money by his father – that took the pressure off a bit. He had been asking the chief and other guards to take him to reception, they all want R.5, 00 to take him, and reception will only give him R.50, 00, so you end up with only R.40, 00 to R.45, 00 which is a waste of time in the first place. The few times he had got to reception he was told the cashier was not there. Today the pressure from people that Japan owes money to became acute, and we had to make a plan. I suggested we write a letter to the prison Commanding Officer requesting an interview to find a solution to the problem (of getting one’s own money). I approached my friendly guard, whom I call Baldy. He agreed to take the letter for a consideration, when we get the money. When Thembo got to Reception, he gave the letter to a white Captain who read it out, and then found Thembo’s card, punched the number into the computer, and confirmed the information is correct. There is also a transaction card or cards for all past transactions – these could not be found, and the Captain was getting irate – he then admitted that all the money had gone missing, along with the transaction cards. He told Thembo, “how could he expect to be given any money when all the money had been stolen”, and he must go away and come back again when they had recovered the money – in other words, fuck the prisoner. The Captain said the money had only been stolen 6 days ago, but the “fuck the prisoner” attitude had been obvious now for at least 2 weeks, so I suspect the money had been missing for 14 days minimum – certainly no one had been able to withdraw for at least that long, without any credible reason. The letter was later returned to the section Chief with a note saying the letter was invalid because it had not gone through the proper channels, which now seem to be via the Section Chief in the first place. However the Chief was sympathetic. He logged the letter, and then took Thembo and the letter back to the Captain at Reception – the Captain told Thembo that he would try to find funds for him. Neither Thembo nor the Chief believed this, and filled out a follow up request for delivery on Sunday or Monday – The credibility of the whole administration is very suspect – and coupled with the don’t care attitude towards the prisoner is beginning to get nasty. You see what has happened over the last 2 weeks is that the credit cycle has gone full circle, and reached resistance levels of R.20, 00 to R.50, 00. This means every one owes everyone else money up to this resistance level, and every one is demanding payment, and no one can buy at the shop. Those who have other sources of money; such as cash in hand or regular visitors are exempt from the situation. The prison administration is completely ignorant of the situation, even though fights are breaking out several times a day. They are moving fighting prisoners in and out of sections in an attempt to quell the violence. But this movement affects the whole prison, and it only frustrates the prisoners to be separated from the people he knows, and takes away the opportunity to repay or be paid his current debts – the sections are completely separated from each other. The amount of money missing or stolen from Reception appears to be between R.62 000, 00 and R.65 000, 00 which would be the combined funds of all the awaiting trial prisoners.
I am half expecting to be collected by detectives tomorrow and be taken to Fourways, and expected to prove my identity to them – this is going to be traumatic; because I don’t know who will be at home – I don’t know what time I will be there, but am banking on the detectives working office hours, but know this may not be necessarily so. I also don’t know what will be laying around the house – papers, visitors, vehicles and a million other things that could upset the apple cart. On top of this I know the detectives will try to worm information from me, and I need to get a lot from them without them really knowing what they are telling me. It was all giving me a headache, and I decided to go to bed early. This was a disaster, as Victor got dagga from somewhere, and decided to shout at others half the night, and when he finally went to sleep he snored and spluttered and spat in my face for the rest of the night. On top of this Victor is very sick, he has a severe ear infection, and his face is very swollen. I can actually smell this infection. He has a prescription for antibiotics, but has no idea how they work, and I see the capsules laying all over the cell. I also noticed on his prescription card, dated mid March, that he was supposed to go to Garden City Clinic for a jaw x-ray, but I know he never did. Maybe the doctor suspects some other problem – anyway Victor is getting worse by the day. He even sleeps with his eyes open now. Also the cell radio speaker was in operation tonight.
Friday 21st April 1995. As expected no sleep until after 05h20 (heard on the all night radio), and woke up at 06h30 feeling terrible – stuffy because of cell closed up – still had a headache, and had not showered for 4 or 5 days – trying to dry up my ringworm. Cleaning teeth and opening windows helped a bit. I decided to wait till everyone left for breakfast, and then shower. Despite the sleepless night I had in fact thought out every conceivable scenario for the detectives if they came today, and felt confident I had all the answers. Just as I was about to step into the shower, the detectives arrived, so no shower. I was keen to go, so put on boots, hid this narrative, took pens and paper and off we went. Of course it took more than one hour to get out of the prison; with all the procedures and incompetence coupled with the usual dead slow pace associated with correctional employees, and the usual dumbstruck state they find themselves in when it becomes apparent that there is no right thumb from which to take a print. I am not going into details of this trip as it would adversely affect my case if these details fell into prison or police hands. However the highlight – if you can call it that – was my maid’s reaction when she saw me. She fell to the floor immediately, crying and moaning at the top of her voice in the middle of my kitchen floor – I found myself kneeling down with her, hugging her and saying I was sorry for what seemed a hell of a long time, with these two detectives watching on. Emalena would not stop, and would not get up – eventually I stood up and lifted her to the kitchen stool / bench, still hugging her – Poor lady, only knew that I was missing – she had been disinformed. I am minimizing this reaction – it was very emotional to me, and I was impressed by her concern, and I realized what loyalty I had received. I will think differently of her from now on. The two detectives were well off balance as well. When we left Emalena ordered the two detectives to bring me back, or suffer the consequences of retribution from 10 000 of her Zulu warrior ancestors. I had phoned my wife Louise and she had come from her work. She was very distraught and emotional, which is to be expected, as she did not know what the circumstances were. I explained that Sgt. Van der Westhuizen and Sgt. Botha we are here to establish my identity and standing in the community, and nothing more. She got the message – I think. Although I was reluctant to leave her alone with the detectives. She remarked that I would miss her birthday on Sunday, which I hope was intended to soften up the detectives, which it did. But I also know that Louise places a lot of importance in things like birthdays, and a birthday party could have been uppermost in her mind. I then suggested we go and visit Casper Strydom who is a Sgt. at Delta Delta (Douglasdale police station) as he knows me well, and Louise had said he had taken my missing person complaint in the first instance. It was mildly amusing to see Casper do a double take when he first saw me. We went through the missing person’s docket, and I was surprised to see who and how many people had phoned in about me – what a mess – Apparently I was with-in a day of going on TV when the complaint was withdrawn – thank god for that. Anyway Casper told the detectives that I was about the best guy in town. We then traveled to John Vorster Square, where for some reason I had to be booked into one of their cells, and then booked out again – this is only on paper, I did not actually go into the cells. Later I found out why this procedure is in place. Some police book their pals out of prison to go to parties, funerals, race meetings etc. and then return them to prison or let them escape – so the regulations now state the police have to take their prisoner some place official before bringing them back to prison. After completing this procedure we set off for Diepkloof again. I suggested lunch, so the three of us went to the Chicken Licken near Uncle Charlie’s, and we had a sit down chicken lunch. The chicken was not that good, I will insist on Nandos next time. Back at the prison again the mood and atmosphere had taken a dive. The receiving guard did not know how to book in a single prisoner back from an investigation, and told us so. But he did not get up to ask anyone. The sergeant who did know the procedure was sitting about 8 meters away, and in the meantime van der Westhuizen and myself were standing outside in the loading / unloading area in the rain, and Botha is sitting in their clapped out red Jetta. I am not kidding when I say this situation persisted for ¾ hour. Eventually I got in and had time to go to the section, but the computer operator was not at his post – so I had to wait – just long enough to get caught up in the first truck load of prisoners returning from Johannesburg court. The driver was the same black sergeant that was driving during the escape attempt, I was on the first time I took the truck to court. I greeted him and asked if he has had his truck repaired yet, and has he had any more escape attempts? He laughed and answered no to both questions. I know he thinks I am the ring leader behind the first attempt, and he also knows I will not help him, so we leave it at that, and carry on with idle chatter. The receiving guards were eventually ready to receive the truck load of prisoners, and sure enough I was caught up in this lot. This means sleeping on the concrete in the Hoff Cell tonight, and because it is Friday, also tomorrow night, unless I can make a plan. To my surprise the first out of the truck is Big George (The Lip) – He told me he has been remanded again – all the blacks call it reminded – until Monday because his probation officer (the 30 year old white woman) had phoned the court (public prosecutor) and told him, her report was not ready yet, but would be ready on Monday – by this action she has sentenced George to two nights and two days on a concrete floor – the magistrate did however apologize for this. While still at court George had phoned his sister, and was informed the probation officer, had been to his sister in Newlands, and told her that George will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. I told George he must now work like hell to defeat this woman who has apparently taken on the role of judge and jailer – George agreed. We spent the next 3 hours in the pens. I got to meet Mr. Otto, who has been in the papers a fair bit recently for being constantly victimized by other prisoners while in prison. Otto and his wife are accused of child abuse. She is also in Diepkloof. He was in the pen next to me with other white prisoners, they all seemed quite friendly. I suspect Otto was victim to one of the normal truck-board robberies returning from court. shortly after his arrest. Just before 19h00 we were led off to the court receiving cells and given a Kowlkop.
The From Court cells have nothing in them except a few blankets which are very dirty and have lots of lice, and are usually damp because they are used to mop up overflowing showers and basins. I think the logic behind this is that the prisoner feels a little responsible for his appearance when he goes to court, and therefore the Court Cells (Hoff Cells) are kept in good order by permanent residents who pay to stay there, and run a supply service of bread, tea, sugar, eggs, tobacco, cigarettes, mandrax, dagga and sheets etc at reasonable prices. But, the prison feels that after the prisoner has been to court, appearances and well being are no longer of any concern. Anyway, George and I stuck together and had a bit of luck, we were in the last left over group of 25 prisoners (usually 40) to be taken to the last cell – we were the only two whites. The guard could not unlock the cell door (The only activity his job requires) and asked George and I, if we could help – this put us at the front of the queue. George gave it 2 almighty kicks, which must have jarred the lock loose, and the key turned. We were first in and grabbed the best blankets and some floor mats. I have noticed this guard before, battling with his math. He can not divide his number of prisoners by his number of cells. So he takes 40 at a time, and evens them up by adding and subtracting after. But this time he did not bother, and we were left with 25 prisoners, and had a comfortable night – but decided to bribe our way back to the section as soon as possible tomorrow. I now remember I should have got a few Rands while I was at home – oh well spilt milk.
Saturday 22nd. Slept OK. At breakfast I got one guard to take us to the Section for R.10, 00 at about 10h00, but he let us down. At lunch (+/- noon) we approached another guard for 13h00, and he came promptly, and took us to C1 – Guards that do this are called Speed Cops – (fast escort to where you want to go). I noticed that the children and juveniles were only taken out of the main groups at this time – they had already spent a night and half a day in the cells with potential homosexuals that they are supposed to be rescued from. Then a big problem when we were let into section C1. We had brought along another white guy, and ran into Baldy, who was not going to accept us, as he knew we were not supposed to be here until tomorrow – however I noticed most of his animosity was directed at the other white guy – I pleaded that George and I are from an investigation, and not court, and the other guy was from court – OK George and I can stay, but the other guy must go – I found out later there had been complaints about the other guy. I had to get busy with my writing, and clothes etc. in preparation for what I suspected to be a successful bail application. Yesterday I had seen myself in a mirror a few times, and knew I needed a haircut – how to get this done with only a razor blade would be a real problem. Then I had to get my clothes cleaned and pressed, and my notes on the investigation completed for Itzie Blumberg for first thing Monday, bearing in mind I have to leave cell C1-11 to Hoff Cell by 14h00 tomorrow.
The haircut came from an unexpected source. A young black prisoner took the razor blade and a piece of comb, and hey presto, 21/2 hours later I had a haircut and a shave which you can judge for yourself on Monday. He did it entirely by hand, including the shaving, and not using a blade holder. I bought him a blade of dagga and 2 cigarettes later to make himself one big Zoll (dagga smoke). I had 2 – 3 draws of it when he fired it up, and that was just to keep him company – I am not smoking it again, and I have also stopped drinking tea. I got a long way with my diary today – went to bed at 22h00 and slept soundly until 06h00 Sunday. I forgot to mention we had a massive cell search this afternoon after final count, and stuff like spoons, cups and other stolen stuff was collected – nothing serious. I was pleased to see the radio speaker taken out. I had been warned that some suspicious report had been made to the guards about my constant writing, and on Friday while I was out on investigation, an attempt had been made to look inside my briefcase – however they did not have the guts to take it or bust it open. I was told this guard was away for the weekend, but would demand to see what was inside it next week Tuesday, when I was present to explain. It looks like I am going to get away with it, as I am now expecting to be out of here on Monday. I had been showering every 3 – 4 days, and was about to shower on Friday morning when the 2 detectives came for me. Then of course after the investigation, back into the From Court cell which is the worst, I was feeling pretty grubby. So after my haircut and cold shave – the cold shower felt pretty good, especially after I was dry, and warm again.
Sunday 23rd. My wife’s birthday, nice present for her – (me in prison). I went straight to work on my Investigation Report for Itzie Blumberg, and actually ran out of time before I had to go to Hoff Cell to be ready to go to court tomorrow. The investigation report consists of as much of the conversation as possible that dealt with the case – every thing the detectives said, every question they asked, and every answer I gave, the times and the route we followed, I told of the meeting with Emalena my maid, and Louise my wife. Also trivial statements, as well as trivial questions that could have had undertones, and the detective’s answers to my questions. I also needed to get a lot of info. Anyway, just after 14h00, I went to the Hoff Cell with George Badenhorst – he had to appear in court tomorrow, but he has not done any preparation yet. We decided to go to cell 15 as we knew it had no radio. It seems that none of the whites can sleep with the all-night radio that the blacks seem to love. We just got into cell No.15 when Charlie Abbott – biggest of the Abbott Brothers – came and asked if we would like to join him in the cell next door. We decided that guaranteed our safety better than no radio and no protection. So just before count we went to Charlie’s cell, and took one scrawny Englishman with us, after Charlie had looked him over. His name was David, and he was in for housebreaking and theft of his girlfriend’s father’s house to steal money to buy drugs. He was caught red-handed, and ran away, but they knew who he was. He was a real drug addict, and apparently harmless – he also had a previous of car-theft at Britz 2 – 3 years earlier. Also in the cell were 2 other whites, and a half white / half coloured guy with long hair, and a million tattoos, who also turned out to be a complete addict. His name was “Shorty”, although he was not that short – Charley was clean of everything – no tobacco, no dagga, no Velkonox, no Mandrax. I believe he gave up smoking in jail – which is no mean feat. He says he still drinks outside. One tattoo Shorty was proud of was “Tell it to the trees” across his forehead. If someone was talking to him he would lift his hair and display. Shorty later got his favourite tattoo split open by me. When we were comfortable, I started work again on my investigation report. Later made beds and had supper. Charlie was very helpful in getting provisions for supper. After supper he told me about his case. Another example of his record, or in this case his reputation being his worst enemy. Then Shorty asked me for some money to buy sugar – I had a R.2, 00 coin and a 50 cent coin. I offered him the 50 cents, and he complained it was not enough, but his buddies might be able to add to it, so OK. Later he came back to me to ask what I wanted the R.2, 00 for as he could not get his sugar with 50 cents, and said I could still make a phone call with the 50 cents – he was scheming for my R.2, 00 – I told him it was none of his fucking business, and seeing as he can’t get the sugar with the 50 cents, he had better give it back to me or get hurt. He was sitting on the bed, and I was standing. He had it in his left hand and I was holding out my left hand. He was not used to this kind of treatment, and I could see by his face he had never intended to give it back. Placing him into the black culture category, as discussed earlier. I thought to myself “this time you are giving it back”. I grabbed his forelock and smashed his “tell it to the trees” open on the end of the bed, and gently took the 50 cents from his hand while he was counting stars. He did not quite lose consciousness, but bleed a lot, in fact so much so it gave me an AIDS scare. I told the China what had happened, and why, and about AIDS – he ordered 4 other black prisoners to Clean up the mess, and pack toilet paper on his forehead, and stick it in place with tooth paste. Shorty was told to sit on his bed and stay there for the rest of the night. No sooner had this fiasco settled another fight broke out over stealing, and one of the participants getting stabbed in the side of his head about 50mm above he left ear – more blood all over the place, and me keeping well away from it. Again the China ordered a clean-up, and the participants ordered to sit. The stolen article was returned. I endured another cold shower and went to bed. The addicts, including Shorty; did some trading and ended up smoking all night. The night was bad, as at least 4 bed bugs got into my clothes. They lay in the seams of the clothes, in this case the sleeve seam of my T shirt, so I got bitten under each armpit, and the radio was a big stay-awake for me. Actually it was a very bad night.
Monday 24th April 1995. I woke up at 06h30, got dressed, folded blankets – gave my XXL “T” shirt to Charlie Abbott – poor George did not have a jacket, only a short sleeve shirt. I loaned him my jacket when we were outside on the verandah. When he got warm, he gave it back to me and we loaned and counter-loaned it until it got warmer. After breakfast we were herded onto the truck with my same black Sgt. Driver who was driving during my first escape attempt – he greeted me like an old friend, and offered to take my bag into the cab with him, and we set off to the court. There was a weak unimaginative escape attempt with a leather belt and a wire coat hanger to try and unlock the back door, but a second truck from the prison was following us the whole way to court with our back door in site at all times. The escape plan had to be abandoned.
At the court there seemed to be more prisoners than I previously remembered. Court 13 had been damaged, and was under repair, and we changed to another court which had a proper down stairs waiting room, which was dry and had proper seats. I walked and waited and walked and waited. I was told the detectives were in court, but they were waiting for Blumberg. I became despondent – I went to sleep sitting up – lunch came and went, and no call, no attorney, no nothing – I was really getting worried, I thought this was another screw-up, and I am going to end up in Diepkloof again tonight, and have a really rough truck ride back to the prison. I thought after all this I am going to end up cut and broken after avoiding it for 9 weeks. Just then along comes Blumberg, and tells me everything is in order – I will be in court soon. I gave him my investigation report, and then went back to the waiting room / cell. Not long after I was called up to court, and everything did go according to plan, but painfully so. Blumberg had negotiated with the detectives, and the black prosecutor was doing his best to read it back to the magistrate, and the magistrate doing his best to write it down – the English language being the biggest problem. I could see that Blumberg was stretching his patience. When the magistrate figured he had it right he read it back to me, with only one mistake – the address to which I must report to – Oh well, it had been a long day. My wife and friend — were sitting in the courtroom looking miserable. As it was getting late I told Blumberg to hurry up and pay the bail before the prison truck leaves. I have seen and heard of other prisoners being granted bail, and then because of delays in getting the money were put back on the truck to the prison with all their possessions because they expected to go free, and then get robbed of it all on the way to the prison. They would have left their stuff safely at the prison if they thought they were coming back. I was told by some prisoners I knew back in the cells that V.D.W. had O.D.ed on some drug in the old Court 13 cell. V.D.W. had phoned his mother at lunch time and the call did not go well – he took 3 of what ever tablets he had, and went to sleep in a bad way, looking dead pale, and dribbling badly. He had now taken 4 or 5 tablets and apparently had died. While we are waiting for bail I will return to the “Interruption Phenomenon” previously investigated / discussed in Diepkloof prison – it concerns the annoying practice of interrupting a conversation in progress. In the rural tribal areas of the Shona in Zimbabwe, and the Zulus in Natal, before the time of Shaka, these bad manners were unheard off. The Shona and the Zulu are completely different language groups, so must have been in existence prior to Shaka’s break-away armies going to Rhodesia. I mention this to indicate that my study base is from at least two culture groups. The information comes from at least two prisoners from each group who were born in rural home land areas, and traveled to Johannesburg (Egoli), and became well educated – i.e. Matriculation exemption, which is well above the average, and from my own observations and deductions. In the homelands a black person would only interrupt a conversation between two or more people much younger than himself – I know this to be true, and there are no exceptions. When the black man comes to town, he is one of a few – although many come to town, and in his mind his status has increased – certainly to a level higher than the brother he left behind, but this status will only be recognized when he returns to his home land. But in his mind he has it already, and because of this gain in status, he does not have to show respect to all and sundry – as in the home land. Unfortunately all the other thousands, from other home lands have the same idea about themselves, and they almost try to outdo each other in bad manners, or as they see it – status. The 3rd and 4th generation of blacks living in Egoli have long since gotten over this, and are well mannered towards each other in the normal civilized way, but not respectful of the new-comer who is bad mannered. So you see we have a dip in manners starting from the arrival of the black person from the home lands, and spanning up to three generations of city living. This includes a lot of people, and is self perpetuating in certain circles, such as lower class pubs, and nightclubs, and the criminal element. It is based on status / importance – each assuming that what he has to say is more important than the others, and if he can force the interruption, it reinforces his opinion of his own status, and therefore self perpetuates. I organized some interesting experiments in prison, where the persons conducting the conversation, or playing a game, refused to be interrupted. This behavior completely bamboozles and deflates the interrupter. But the next time he will interrupt, again, and will continue to do so on different occasions, even though he is continually ignored – so they do not get the message. There are also certain circumstances that encourage bad manners – such as prison. Here I have heard it said “It does not matter, this is prison”. My own opinion is that, this is where it really matters. The interruptions can occur in 4 ways: 1. one person interrupting a conversation between two or more other people. 2. One person already involved in a conversation turning away to talk to another, thus interrupting the listener, and himself. 3. The listener turning away to talk to another – thus interrupting the speaker and, 4. Multiple listeners starting to talk among themselves while the speaker is still speaking i.e. all talking at once, and no one listening. I have mentioned before that the decision to stop listening comes early in conversations conducted by people discussed above – this goes a long way to aggravate the whole scenario, and it also reinforces the other related theory of calling someone in rapid succession; discussed earlier in this narrative. When the interrupter comes along and interrupts a game or conversation, and the game or conversation refuses to be interrupted the interrupter resorts to rapid calling (every 31/2 seconds) for a short time, and then changes his mind and walks away – which is what the game expects when the caller stops calling. Another example of prison blundering is not making prisoners aware of their call to court. For example – on Sunday morning I was relieved to be reminded to go to the court cell as I was worried that the system might let me down, and although I knew I had to be in court on Monday my name might not be on the list. This happened to Thembo Chadoka who heard via a telephone call that he would be called to court on Monday, but the information was sketchy and could not be confirmed. The prison did not call him on Sunday to go to the Hoff Cell. But on the Monday his name was called out at the Hoff Cell, but off course he was not there – a fact that the guards ignored, and again at the truck his name was called out, and again he was not there, and apparently this fact was again ignored, and he did not pitch up at court the whole day. This left the attorneys and witnesses waiting in vein, costing everyone a lot of time and money – also depriving Thembo himself of a possible bail application. Well it looks like I am almost out of this mess, just one final bit of idiocy. The little black clerk in the bail office thought it was the funniest thing in the world by telling me that because he could not see me at the time of issuing the bail receipt, he had cancelled it and booked me on the truck back to the prison – although I did not really believe him, I told him “he had just made a very bad enemy today”, whether he was telling the truth or not – he immediately gave me the receipt, and I took it to the SAP Sgt. Who gave me my get out of jail stamp – (a little pink stamp on my left hand) – I do not think it was readable. My plan B was to acquire this receipt and pink stamp by other means, but I was saved the trouble. On my way out of the cell section of the court building myself and my attorney bumped into the black Sgt. Truck driver who knew me from the first escape attempt, and was going to charge me with escaping. He now said he was prepared to say that “I could have escaped, but did not”. This may (or may not) be useful at some time. One more thing – just before this I saw Big George, with the lip in the after court cell, who had a new jersey, and some tobacco (from his sister). He had tears in his eyes when he told me he had been sentenced to two years imprisonment. The sister did not give him money, and only one packet of tobacco – not good for George. I told him to make good use of the next two years – he is going to be a chess expert, and try to give up smoking. He has had experience in the kitchen, so should get there again, thus eliminating his food problem. He will be able to build himself up again – here’s hoping.
Well, I am out now with my wife Louise and friend —, who drove Louise. I would not have liked to miss this experience, but for a shorter period. I also realize it has messed up many aspects of my life, especially financial and credibility. The bail conditions are severe and expensive. I am to report to SAP every business day. Not leave Gauteng / PWV without permission, and hand over my passport. To get work of any description under these conditions will be very difficult. And now came the task of phoning concerned people and friends, and explaining to them why I disappeared from the face of the earth. I was honest with them by saying I have been in jail, but strangely enough most replied by saying “you don’t have to tell me why”. I was grateful for this. Most of my male friends said “well OK let’s start again”. Some said “OK, but you have used up all your chances”. Others went dead quiet on me, and reneged on previous undertakings. My family – wife and three daughters – all said they forgive me (for what they did not know), but grudgingly in the first instance – this would take a while. However I did recover from the experience quite quickly and I suspect forgiveness has been replaced by forgotten.
There were several more court appearances, and I decided to take my daughters along for the experience. Although they got the experience, this was probably a mistake.
RIDE HARD, SHOOT STRAIGHT, and SPEAK the TRUTH.