The feeling I felt that first day I went to Pollsmoor Prison was like no other. I cannot even describe it; it was a feeling of pure terror and fear, the feeling of powerlessness and no control over anything. 

Initial impressions

I knew nothing! I remember feeling this overwhelming wave of tears coming from the very inside of my belly, and all I could do was cry loudly and uncontrollably. Some of the guys came to me, asking me what was wrong, and said I should stop crying immediately before the “numbers” see or even hear. They warned that I would be in deep trouble, as they might make me a “wife.” I remember thinking, “What the hell?” And “What does this even mean?” As I was wiping my tears from my face, one of the high-ranking officers of the Numbers gang approached me slowly.

As I looked up and saw him coming towards me, I felt scared and started shaking as if I had just ended up on the Antarctic ice shelf. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop my body from acting out in fear—my limbs were shaking, my legs both started tapping as I was sitting. This officer stood right in front of me and asked me in a loud, angry voice what I was about and why I was shaking. I couldn’t give any answer to him. With a trembling voice, I managed to ask him why he would ask me if I’m stupid. He didn’t even answer me but gave me a death stare, followed by a smack across my face that made me fall on my back on the floor. I even saw stars for a brief second.

Confrontation and reflection

I remember standing up and saying, “What the hell?” The words hadn’t even fully left my mouth yet, and I received another smack, but this one was harder than the first. Back on the floor, I found myself dizzy and disoriented. I stumbled to my feet, with tears streaming down my cheeks, just looking at this bully, thinking, “Oh my God, why? Why am I here? This can’t be true. It just can’t.” And then it dawned on me that this is now my reality. I had now arrived at the notorious Pollsmoor Prison, and I remember thinking, “Lord, am I going to make it out of here alive?” because I didn’t know so much. I felt hopelessness, powerlessness, worthlessness, and I started praying and asking God to protect me and to be with me through this time.

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *