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Prison Journalism: Gang operations in South African prisons

12/04/2024

Prison Journalism: Gang operations in South African prisonsDavid van Nek was incarcerated in Pollsmoor Prison from 2013 until 2015 and participated in the restorative justice programme.

by David van Nek

12-04-2024 08:36

in Prison Journalism

Prison

Image by Pexels

Warning: This article features content which readers may find disturbing

--

The whole of South Africa shows varying numbers in gang members. In the Western Province, there are only three numbers. In the Eastern Cape, there are five numbers: 26, 27, and 28, along with the 35s and the 5s. I was in Kimberley with the 35s, whose task is to stab the wardens. The 5s' role is to escape from prison and return with knives, drugs, weed, and everything else. So, the 5s are brothers to us. The 28s work well for us, but one must know that one will never leave prison. The 5s are high-risk; they engage in rape, hijacking, murder, and so on. However, one must remember they are our enemies.

Prison Dynamics and Conflicts The 35s' job is to stab the warden officers, and the 5s, liking the wardens too much, must protect the officers because the officers allow them to go to the Kassie townships to get everything with the officers' payment cash. These two camps can start a fight, turning the prison upside down. In the chaos, prisoners fight against each other, and one must know how volatile a prison can become. When chaos ensues, the captain summons the police, army, and wardens, and together they combat fiercely. The prison then comes to a standstill. The prisoners, living subdued, feel a compelling need to fight for their lives.

Personal Journey and Reflections Three days after that fight, I was transferred to Voorberg. I had to get my black ass out of that prison. I didn't come here to end up in Voorberg; I came to finish my sentence. I called my childhood friend ma shoot, whom I left in Voorberg, to tell him I was returning. My friend's real name is Anton September. Now back in Voorberg, I believe we were about 60 men, all from the Western Cape. Voorberg is a prison on the farm known as Old MacDonald's. I was just a standard guy when I came from Kimberley, the diamond mine city, a place of prosperity.

--

Upon arriving at my former club, I met with my brother Syia and the club's owner. He was wealthy and remarked on our thin appearance, expressing surprise at our non-stop training. He insisted that we start eating well. We used to call him the boss and whenever he was near us, he would always ensure we had food, asking, Are you hungry?

DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received

Should you wish to assist in the rehabilitation of former inmates and help put money into the pockets of those who have struggled to earn a living during and after incarceration, click HERE

--

RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, providing inmates at Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.

If you have any questions you would like to ask our prison journalists, WhatsApp us on 060 011 0211.

Do you have contact with a prison inmate who would like to write for The South African website? If so, send an email to info@thesouthafrican.com or a WhatsApp to 060 011 0211.

You can also follow @TheSAnews on Twitter and The South African on Facebook to get the latest prison journalism articles.

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LINK: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/culture/prison-journalism/prison-journ...
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