Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Christmas Prison Visit

Maybe most prisoners only get visits at Christmas time because today was ordeal far greater than previous visits – the lines of visitors stretched as far as the eye could see, all waiting to get to the first check-in.  After that, there is a bus ride to the section the prisoner you are visiting is in.  I don’t do the bus ride because I can’t and have a special dispensation (asked for) allowing Patrick to drive me to Medium B.  From there it is into a reception area where you are searched and then you take a seat and one by one the visitors have to sign in again.  When the prisoner is in the visitor’s area, the visitor is called and allowed in.   This is a new method of visiting and I cannot say that it is an improvement on the previous method.  
Both Luvuyo and Heini were happy to see us – and extra happy with what we were able to take in for them.  However, my Xmas card had to be opened and censored which I think is rather pathetic, given that it was a home-made card that was very rude – it was made especially to make them laugh.  
While I visited with the boys (they so much younger than I am), Patrick went to buy them a cold drink which can only be bought at the prison tuck shop.  It took him 45 minutes to get the cold drinks…the queues were that long.   The prison is bristling with Quick Response teams very heavily armed with bulletproof vests and dogs.  The atmosphere was far from being one of a happy time.
I asked if they would be given a special meal on Christmas day – both of them said that they would be given rice.  They get no rice the whole year, except on Christmas day.   How sad is that?
Heini told me a very funny story which I am still laughing about.  The wardens’ love curried prawns but their wives don’t cook it for them, so they get Heini to cook it for them.  Heini has made a little stove which he used in his cell before he was moved to a communal cell a month ago.   He was busy cooking the curried prawns when at 2am in the morning; the tactical team came to do a search.  As fast as he could, he grabbed the pot with its glass lid and shoved it under his bed.  The biggest of the members of the tactical team was also the leader and he could smell the food.  He leaned down and pulled the pot out from under Heini’s bed.  When he saw the gogo’s (insects) through the glass lid, he got such a fright he pushed and shoved the other members out of the cell … shouting with fright.  Heini was not punished for cooking in his cell, but another prisoner who they were after anyway, was charged with cooking.   Can you imagine such a sight?  I laughed when Heini told me the story until the tears were running down my cheeks.   And just then, that same leader of the tactical team walked past us.  I laughed even more at that, seeing such a big man running for his life from a pot of prawns.

A huge thank you to Patrick, for my Christmas present…of taking me to the prison.  It is a present that I will remember for the rest of my life. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas In Prison

My Christmas Gift
My husband, Patrick, has been in prison more than once for the “terrible” crime of having a bit of dope on him.  He spent too many years behind bars and has a phobia about the sounds, smells, and walls of a prison.
For Christmas, he asked me what I wanted.  I asked him to take me to the St Albans prison so that I could wish some prisoners a happy Xmas and take them some of what they need and are allowed.  This is the greatest Christmas gift from Patrick; for he is giving me his time and taking me to where he does not like to be.  I am very grateful to him for doing this.  Not only does he have to take me, but he has to take the wheelchair, oxygen cylinder, and facemasks and push me quite a distance to the visitor’s lounge.   The one hour visit we are allowed can sometimes take 5 hours with all the red tape and wait one has to do to see the prisoner.
I am going to see Heinrich van Rooyen and Luvuyo Lukas – two of many of my favourite prisoners in Medium B.  I am well acquainted now, after 2 years of visits, with 18 amazing lifers.  Their combined skills would shock you – our country needs to allow them out on parole when it is due because they have skills that we need as a country.  Some of them are even lawyers, accountants, and medical doctors.  Everyone makes mistakes – some of us are caught and pay the penalty.  How many of us have just been lucky and not caught?
In Matthew 25:36 it says: “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”   This is what Christmas really means – giving of yourself for in doing so, you give to yourself.  I am not doing this out of duty, but because I want to.  I always do what I want to do when I can. Chronic illness is not an excuse to having a life of doing what you want when you can.  I prayed to be well enough to go today and I have woken up well enough to go visit.  Thank you, God.
Most of society sees prisoners or ex-prisoners in a very negative light.  I want to somehow in the future, change that view to one of compassion for these people who are doing their time for their crime.  If God can forgive them, if they have done their punishment; then what right do we have to be judgemental?   I am not a fool and I do not think that all prisoners are wonderful, but most of them have accepted their punishment and are making good on the courses offered to help them to change and become better people.   Even when no courses are available at the prison, they find ways of becoming better people by running book clubs and teaching one another the life skills that others have not got.
The sick are visited, the naked are clothed, but how many of us visit the prisoners?  A negative attitude to all prisoners comes from a lack of knowledge, a lack of care and a total lack of compassion.  Please spare a prayer for the prisoners of our country this Christmas.  We need to be more forgiving and more compassionate. 
I wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas and may 2018 bring you everything you need, and a little more so you can give some away as well.

God bless and keep you safe and happy during the festive season. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas From the Heart

It was in in 1982 that I found myself with not a penny to my name and it was the day before Xmas.  I was a single mother with two children and my son’s birthday was on Xmas day.  I was feeling terribly sad and not knowing what to do.  In a walk to the letterbox to check the mail with no thought in my mind, I opened the post box to find an envelope in it with a R100 check in it made out to me.  There was no sender and it was a bank cheque.
I drove my clapped out beetle, with no floorboards, so the children had to sit with their feet on the seats as we could watch the tar passing by as we drove and I went to the bank and asked them who had sent the check to me.  They told me that it was an anonymous gift.
That R100 made the most wonderful Christmas with food and presents including a special one for my birthday child.
I have never forgotten that Christmas donation and every Christmas since that day, I have found a family to repeat the gift that was given to me. 
It was also that Christmas that we started the tradition of no Christmas gifts for one another but rather a letter written to one another, recounting all the good things that that person had done or had meant to us during the year.  It sounds like a simple enough gift, but the letters took a long time to write because it had to incorporate everything good that had come from that person for the entire year.  The other rule was that the letter had to be handwritten and had to have a handmade envelope.
That Christmas tradition as a gift has been a tradition since 1982 – no Christmas presents for the three of us but a beautiful letter showing us what we mean to one another.
Getting these gifts of letters ready to be in time for Xmas has to be started on the 1st of December to be in time for the 25th.  The only gift that is given is to my son whose birthday he shares with Jesus.
Perhaps you may like to make this a tradition for your Christmas instead of buying into the commercial Xmas that most people turn into a frenzy of buying and over-eating.

I would like to wish you a Christmas that will be filled with good memories for years to come and that the new year brings you everything you need.  Merry Christmas!! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Miracles from a Cloned Standard Bank Debit Card

I had my Standard Bank debit card cloned last week and every penny taken from my account.  The only thing that goes into that account is money for rent, my medical aid and for the medication that the medical aid does not pay.  I get my money from helping people write books, publishing books for others, writing and selling my own books and occasionally managing to sell one of the blankets that I crochet.  And then I get a disability grant from the government.  My children give me a little money towards my medical aid but I have to come up with the rest.  It is always a gut-wrenching and stressful time for me until I have the money I need in my account.  I had my money for the end of November when my card was cloned.
I, by habit and by nature am a giver and a helper and someone who never asks for anything.  I have been like this my whole life, believing that it is far better to love than to be loved.  That law of doing unto others as you would have done to yourself is engrained in me.  I find it very difficult to ask for help for anything.
In His wisdom, God taught me a lesson.  I had no way of getting the money for the end of November but I put my pride in my pocket on asked for help on FaceBook.  After all, I have over 1400 FaceBook friends, many that I have helped over the years.
A miracle has occurred.  Not only do I have money to pay Discovery, but I have money to pay for my medications and enough to pay half the rent.  I have no worries now because I know that God will use one of his angels on earth to come up with the difference, or Standard Bank will make good on my cloned card (They refused to refund me).  The real miracle is that those who gave me donations were those I have never helped before – they were all relative strangers, FB friends who just liked reading my posts.  Not one of those I had helped, helped me.  Our rewards come from the places and people we never expect it to come from.
I have learned a few lessons from this experience and the biggest one is that it is OK to ask for help when you need it.  It is not humiliating and embarrassing.  It is reaching out to another and accepting the help they offer.  I have even learned that people do remember help I have given, even if I don’t remember – I have had people say “You helped me once so now I can repay you”.   This has been an incredible experience for me.  From a total disaster, out came a rainbow of miracles.
I have also learned that I am loved as well – something I have never really felt. I am loved and I am lovable and I can ask for help – what a comforting revelation to me.   
So with something so evil as my bank card being cloned and my money stolen, God gave me back a thousandfold; not only in the donations from His earth angels but also with showing me the amazing experience of feeling loved and being able to ask for help.
To His earth angels – my deep gratitude and to Him – all glory! 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I Don't Know why I am in Prison

I don’t know why I am in prison
It was a cold, silent night.  The wind was whispering.  It was three in the morning and I was coming back from a tavern on my way home.  I could have taken a taxi but the street was empty.  Not even a shadow could be seen.  I could only hear the sound of dogs barking.
I had a bottle of Black Label beer in my right hand and a cigarette in my left.  I was talking to myself since there was no one to talk to.  I was so drunk that I couldn’t even see the road clearly.  While I was walking, I took five or three steps forward and then I stumbled on something.  At the time I didn’t know what it was since I wasn’t carefully looking and I didn’t mind looking around since I knew there was nothing except me on the road.  I fell on top of this thing.  I didn’t know what it was.  My Black Label bottle broke into pieces.  I don’t know where the cigarette ended up.  As I was trying to get up, my eyes fell on what I had fallen on top of.  My whole world stopped.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I had fallen on top of a dead man.  He was stabbed to death.  I tried to stand up as fast as I could.  Then I saw someone appearing from a dark corner.  It was a tall, thin and dark lady.  She was young and beautiful.  I tried to approach her about this dead man but she ran to the closest house around when she set eyes on me.  I asked myself “What was she running from?”  She reached the door of the house and she didn’t hesitate to knock and she was crying and screaming for help.  “HELP HELP”  I could see in her eyes that she did not want me to get any closer to her.  As I set one-foot closer she was losing hope.  She was so scared as if she saw death coming her way. I tried to calm her down but she shouted, “Don’t come any closer to me, you killer”.   I tried to explain what happened.  The people in the house whose door she was knocking on came out and closer to hear what the young lady had to say.  I looked around and saw more and more people around me – more than I could count.   They were standing there as if they were ready to go to war.   They had assegais, garden picks and stones.  In an instant, I realized that this was mob justice.
I looked at myself and I was full of blood stains all over as if I was slaughtering a cow and there was a dead man lying next to me.  Anyone who was looking at the crime scene would say the broken bottle was the murder weapon. I heard an angry man’s voice saying catch that murderer and I was thinking if I run now I would look guilty in these people’s eyes and if I don’t run now I could be beaten to death and no one will ever hear the truth.  I felt like a moth who got himself close to the light except I didn't burn.  I turned cold.,  I could see the heavenly door open.  My death was around the corner.  Another mand shouted “POLICE”.  That was my chance of escaping.  The way the mob was standing the police could notice that there was something strange going on, so they stopped.  There were enough policemen to stop the mob's intentions, twelve vans one after the other.  I heard the sound of a door shut “bhar barh” and the mn approached the mob.  Everyone stood still and he asked what was going on.  Everyone answered at the same time as if everyone knew what was going on.  But the policeman asked a few volunteers to give statements at the police station.  Eleven people were available.   The police grabbed me and threw me into the back of a police van.   We reached the police station and I was thrown into a cell.  
There were two men in the cell.  One was under a blanket and the other was sitting as if folding himself into a corner.  They looked angry but tired at the same time.  These men were gangsters – I could tell just by looking at their faces.  Their faces were almost green, they had red eyes and deep scars on them.  I thought about greeting them first and then thought better of it because then they would think I am a coward.  They looked at me as though they were seeing a ghost.  One said ‘Yes?’.  I did not answer at first until the one who was under the blanket got up and came straight towards me and stopped when there was only one step between us.  He said, “Yes, bathi ungubani wena?” (Yes, who are you?). I replied that I was Luvvuyo and his response was nothing but a prepared fist on my face.  I stood there thinking should I fight back, but he released another right fist.  This time I was aware of it and I hit him back with a right to his chin.  He fell and I kicked him in his stomach.   Immediately the police were inside the cell.  They pulled me out and kicked me into a deep sleep.  The police threw a glass of water into my face to wake me up.  When I got up I was in the interrogation room.  There was a huge white man standing in front of me.  He was wearing a black suit, saying “You are in deep shit son”.   I tried to find out what he was talking about but he told me that he asks the questions and I am the one to do the answering.
He took out the tape recorder and a few sheets of paper and asked me, ‘What can you tell me about three o[clock in the morning?”  I told him that I knew nothing about what happened.  He hit me and said, “Tell the truth”.  I replied as loud and as clear as I could, “I don’t know”.  Then he told me that I was going to be charged for two serious cases of murder and Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm because the man I kicked in the stomach was in the hospital because I broke his rib.  I did not have a statement for the murder case because they would not believe anything I said and I asked myself why can’t anyone believe me?  Was it because of the color of my skin and why would anyone want to lock me up and for what?  But the man interrogating me pulled out the papers, took my fingerprints and took me to the back of the van.  They drove straight to court.  We got to court, they called my name “Luvuo Lukas” and I stood up.  The magistrate looked at me through his glasses.  While I was standing I saw how respectful everyone was towards him.  Everyone stood up and waited for permission to sit down. 
The magistrate raised his voice and said, “Simphewe Nomfazi, you are charged with murder and assault GBH.  What can you tell me about this?”
“I know nothing about murder and the assault was self-defense”
Luckily, the man who had folded himself in the corner was also a victim, his rights were also abused by the man I assaulted and he was there to witness my statement.  The assault case was then over but what was not over was the murder case.  They asked me if I wanted a lawyer and I said no.  Time flue, days died and weeks vanished doing the same thing over and over again until the last day of the case arrived.   It was 8 o’ clock on a Friday morning and I arrived in a police van.  When I looked outside the court was full of people from the community.  They were protesting, caring written cardboards with “Arrest the murderer”,  and that was when I knew that I was no longer safe in the community anymore.  I thought about my life and how cruel the world is, my life just vanished in front of me.
The trial began.  I stood up when they called my name.  The prosecutor asked me if I was ready to say something.  I did not respond.  I looked at him and I saw nothing but a fallen angel standing in the presence of God, acting like he cared while he only cared about was his salary at the end of the month.  The prosecutor called witnesses and nine of them were available, including the lady I saw that early morning when I tripped over the dead man.
The lady was the first to climb the state.  The prosecutor convinced her to tell the court the whole story.  She was prepared and ready to bring me down – what for?  I don’t know.  I never knew the lady, she did not know me either.  I heard her telling the court how badly I stabbed the deceased and I wanted to kill her too and that is when she ran to the closest house around and I had tried to get to her too.  People in the house she ran to get up so did the community.  Everyone after her agreed on what she had said.  And they asked me again, “Sir, can’t you tell us anything and I said “no”.  The judge called for teatime and everyone stood up and were dismissed.  While I was waiting for the break to end I thought what am I going to do or say to convince the court and prove that I am not guilty.  I was losing because everyone was against me.  I was alone in this situation and had no one to talk to while I was thinking.
 A policeman came and said, “Come forward sir, you need to finish what you have started”. Who started this, I thought.  Now I have to finish it. I felt like Jesus because I was dying for somebody else’s sin.
The judge called me forward.  He said, “Simphewe Nomfazi, you were too drunk to remember stabbing someone because you were drinking irresponsibly.  He convinced me to understand that he is not doing this for anyone but myself and the community.  And I thought “This is it now”.  My mind was all over the place and I couldn't feel my body.  I had a feeling that something bad was coming my way.  Five minutes after the magistrate said silence in court, he said, “Simphewe Nomfazi, I sentence you to ten years imprisonment for murder”.
I could not believe what I had heard.  I  did not know what to say or to whom.  All I knew was that I was going to prison for not knowing anything about the dead man.  I climbed on the back of the police truck and was taken to St Alban’s prison in Port Elizabeth.  When I got to the reception the warder who was working there asked me what I was arrested for.  I gave him the ticket and he saw every detail he was expecting.  But when I got to the cell, they asked me the same questions.  I told them the truth.  I don’t know what I was punished for.  Now I have to spend most of my days in prison, while the murderer is walking free out there and what was the difference between me and the murderer?  The only difference is the murderer knew exactly what happened and I didn't know nor do I know to this day.
I have changed the name of the prisoner.  The story is in his own words. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rape in Prison

 This story is in the prisoner’s own words.  I have kept his name secret for obvious reasons.  

It all happened so fast, the day of my arrest and the pain of my life.  It was on the 5th October when I was remanded in custody for a warrant of arrest on my pending case, which was for armed robbery.  We were all pushed into one big truck, which is called “umgqomo” (rubbish bin).  We arrived at the West Bank Trial in East London, then the Correctional Officials locked us up in a cell called the “Court Cell” for more than several hours without water or food.  Just after “Phaka” time, which is also known as supper time or dish up time, we were all stripped searched, as they divided us into different sections. I was placed in C-Unit, well-known as the rich gang’s section.  Everything happened in that section and all the so-called fat cats, the top dogs, were staying there.  At our arrival in the unit, you could literally hear the guys making remarks like “You are mine tonight”, “Come stay with me, I’ll make you a queen, baby”.  The fear started to build up inside of me.  I couldn’t hear anything else because the fear was so much that I blocked my ears.  My heart was beating so fast that I could feel it in my throat.  We stood for a while in the front of the office while the wardens were sorting out the totals for each cell in that section, trying to balance their books so that they put more in the cells where there was the fewest number of prisoners.  Eventually, they put me in Cell 10.  I can remember everything like it was yesterday.  I got into the cell with absolutely nothing except for a toilet roll, toothbrush, body soap and one single sheet to sleep with.  The wardens locked me in that cell.  The öuens”were already standing, aware of the “stimella” arriving.  One of the men that were hanging around in the toilet told me to enter the room and stand behind the door.  I did as I was told.  While I was standing behind the door, two guys came towards me, bearing in mind all the noise I heard while I was outside.  The cell disappeared.  It was absolutely silent.  Everybody was sitting on their beds.  The two guys stood in front of me.  One of them greeted me in Tsotsi language and asked me for my name.  I told them.  They asked to which gang or group I belong to in here.  I said to none so they told me who they were and to which gang/organization they belonged to.  It was their job, they said, to make sure that I did not have any sharp or dangerous weapon that could be a threat to their organization and they dealt strictly with money, matches and any kind of thing that could be smoked, dagga, tobacco, and cigarettes.  I told them that I had nothing.  After that they told me to wait there, the.  They went back down the passage and disappeared into one of the passages on the right, a few seconds later they stood in the middle of the passaged and call out Hom, Hosh, tow men from the left side of the passage appeared and stood in front of the two men that were already standing there.  I just saw hands coming up and signs were being made.  I couldn't hear a single word that was said. These men disappeared back into those passages and then suddenly two men from the left side of the passage came marching towards me and gave me instructions to follow them.  I went with them.   I followed until they entered the last passage (Dzegang) on their left.  They ordered me to take a seat on one of the beds, opposite the one where a very dark in complexion man sat.  I sat, holding my prison stuff in my hand.  The man in front of me said “Welcome to Gormorro.  I was confused and afraid as I sat there, a million things running through my mind.   This black man started a conversation with me while he was rolling something that looked like a dagga roll.  He asked me if I smoke and without thinking, I said yes.  The man that had brought me from standing behind the door to this cell vanished for the longest time.  I tried to gather my thoughts.  I could not get my mind straight or clear because I had seen that the whole passage, left and right, was covered with curtains (Udiyadiayas).  You could literally not see a thing behind the closed curtains.
 Eventually, this black man sitting across from me this long thick zoll (thick dagga roll); as thick as my thumb.  He told me his name was Zorro and then gave me the zoll.  I tried to hold it still because my hands were shaking so badly.  I brought it close to my lips, took a long deep puff, inhaled and kept it in for a few seconds before I blew the smoke out.  I could feel that this was a good joint of the first grade.  I started to relax and enjoyed the zoll.  I started talking freely and before I realized it, it was dark outside.  The roll was near the end.   Zorro told me that I should not worry about anything and that whatever I wanted or whatever problem I had, I should speak to him.  He told me that from now onwards I would sleep on the bed I was sitting on.   He told me to kick off my shoes and relax on the bed.  He got up from his bend, and from underneath his bed, he pulled out a box.  Inside were clothes.  He took out a pair of shorts and a red t-shirt and told me that I could wear the clothes so long because the clothes I was wearing needed to be washed.  He gave me a face towel and soap, which was Lux soap, not the same type of soap I had got from the office.  I took the things from him and then he shouted for Samora, who was the man who had brought me to his door.  He told Samora to show me the shower and to give me the run down on all I needed to know while I was showering.  I followed Samora to the bathroom, all the while listening to the do’s and don’ts.  I took off my filthy stinking clothes that I had been wearing and sleeping in.  They were disgustingly dirty from sleeping on old sponge mattresses and dirty blankets from the charge office cell.  I got into the shower, opened the hot water to check the temperature and to my surprise the water was cold.  However, I continued to stand under the tap, applied soap in the face towel and started washing myself in that cold water.  For a moment my mind was taking me for a ride.  I could hear all those remarks playing over and over in my head.  “Jy’s myne vanaand, jou mooi ding”,  (You are mine tonight you lovely thing) and all those other nasty comments.   I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind as I hurried up and got myself dried with that little face cloth and into the clothes Zorro had given me.  I took my stinking clothes and threw them into a bucket I saw standing there and washed my clothes.  I then hung them from the window.  I went back into the room.  Most were in their beds, some were playing cards, others were playing a game called stokes.  As I got into the passage where Zorro slept, I saw bread on my bed and a small bottle of cola.  Zorro told me that it was for me.  I looked at him and thanked him.  I took the plastic with the bread in it and sat down and ate the bread because I was so hungry and thirsty from the dagga zoll I had smoked.  When I was done eating and drinking, Zorro told me to look underneath my pillow.  Underneath the pillow were three cigarettes and matches.  Zorro said that they were for me in case I got a craving while he was asleep. I wondered why this man was being so friendly to me.  Maybe he is just a friendly person I thought to myself.  I kicked off my shoes, reclined on the bed and lit a cigarette.  Zorro rolled another zoll and lit it.  By then I had finished my cigarette. 
As I lay on my bed, my mind was just not in a right state of mind.  I replayed the time I was in court when I entered the finishing cell, the guys robbing the people in that cell and the attack on the people who would refuse to be searched.  The person refusing to be searched would be kicked until he collapsed.   Zorro called out “skuif”and when I looked at him he handed the zoll over to me.  I took the zoll and smoked it finished.  That was the last thing I remember as I lay on my back.  When I looked up all I could see were two rows and a mattress.  I must have fallen asleep.  
As long as I live, I will never forget what happened next.  I felt something heavy on top of me.  When I tried to move, I heard a voice whispering in my ear, “If you move one more time you are dead”.  Immediately I opened my eyes.   I felt this hot, hard pole, that felt like a penis, touch my bum.  I realized that I was naked, my shorts and underpants had been pulled off of me without me feeling anything.  I tried to move in a way of pushing Zorro off me.   I felt an ice cold, sharp knife against my neck.  “If you want to die, make one more move”.
I was very scared and I lay dead still.  He forced his penis into my anus.   It was so sore that I wanted to scream, but his hand was over my mouth.  I did not know what to do.  The tears rolled down my cheeks as he continued hammering his penis into me.  I felt like it was the end of my life.  Until today I feel ashamed.  I feel guilty because I should have known better than taking things from Zorro.  For days it was difficult for me to go to the toilet.  Blood would come out with every bowel movement.  My whole backside would burn.  I could not work properly. 
The morning after the rape, Zorro told his fellow prisoners that I was not feeling well, so when the wardens came to count us before they gave out breakfast, they reported me as being sick.  I did not feel well and was so weak, it was difficult to walk.  For days I lay there on my bed; hopeless, helpless and lost.  I lay on that bed for days.  Zorro threatened me that if I said a word, he would make my life miserable and I would regret having put my foot in prison. 

Ever since that day, I have kept this as my secret.  I am sharing this with you, Dianne, because I feel I can trust you.  You have made me realize that I am carrying a heavy burden.  This is the most painful story that has happened in my life.  I now feel light and free because I have shared this secret with you. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Kite Flew Me!

Yesterday I managed to get into and out of the bath on my own – and got myself dressed.  That was an unexpected small miracle.  One of the small miracles I have wanted for a long time is to learn to fly a kite and yesterday was the day!!   The wind had come out and Patrick took me into the park to show me how it is done.  The only problem was that it was not small kite, but a 2m one.  No worries, I said…full with enthusiasm and confidence.  “Babe, this kite is a professional kite.  They use these things for kite surfing”, said, my dear husband.  “Don’t worry – we can handle this”, I responded.   He gave me two strings with straps as handles and told me to hold them tight, so I wound them around my wrists and had them firmly gripped in my hands. I sat down on the park bench, smiling away at the passers-by and not paying too much attention.  He walked down the length of the strings to the kite, did some adjusting and then lifted it. 
With no warning, the kite took off with me being pulled right off the park bench and touching the ground now and again for about 30 meters, landing with quite a thud on the grass.  I did not fly the kite.  The kite flew me!!  And to add insult to injury, I had landed in a patch of dobbelintjies (small star-shaped thorns).

But I am not giving up – Patrick will find me or build me a smaller kite, one that I can be in control of.  I will still learn to fly a kite, but this time I will make sure it is a kite for a child and not a professional surf jumping kite.   I might not have flown my kite yet, but I am still winning.  I will get up again and learn to fly a kite

Monday, November 13, 2017

I am Still Winning

I had a few small miracles I wanted in my life before I die – one of them was to swing on a swing and feel the wind blow my hair back.  This weekend I did that – it was not quite what I had imagined, but I went for a swing in the park.  I had been sleeping for most of my days over the previous week, but that need to swing was overpowering.  There are other small miracles I want; like learning to fly a kite.  That will have to wait a while.
This morning I decided I would bath, knowing my nurse was in the house, I thought I could do it alone.  I got in slowly, sat on my knees and then slid each leg out from under me and I bathed.  But I could not get out.  I tried and tried and then I started shouting for Vimbai.  She was outside and did not hear me.  So I sat in that bath, every now and then attempting to get out on my own.  I lost the battle, shouting once more for Vimbai.  She came and it was a struggle for even the two of us to get me out.  I was exhausted to the point that she had to dry me, dress me and put me back in bed.

Another piece of my independence has gone and I value my independence so much.  
And I cry for one more thing I can’t do on my own.  There is less and less I can do on my own and for myself.  Many say miracles can happen and I could be healed, but I no longer believe that.  It is what it is.  That is why my miracles are small; like swinging and flying a kite.   I am more determined than ever to die on my own terms.  I will not allow myself to be totally dependent on others for my every breath, nor am I prepared to suffer what is insufferable.  But until then, I will continue to write and to connect to others via social media.  While I can still do that, I am still winning. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Small Dreams

Chronic illness is one of the most isolating experiences.  You become isolated because people just do not understand your reality.  They slowly move out of your life and get on with the lives that you used to be part of.  You feel left behind.  I am not lonely, but I am alone in this reality of mine.
People don’t understand me anymore – we talk past one another.  They have no idea of what my reality is like, but I remember what the reality of a healthy person is.  I hang my head in shame now that I remember my chronically ill grandmother and how little attention I paid to her.  She just could not leave her bed so did not take part in any family activities and would lie in a darkened room day after day.  Yes, I remember bathing her and sitting and talking to her as a young adult, all the while hoping that the visit could be over.   I understand now how isolated and neglected and starved of human company she was.    I have social media but in those days, there was no such thing.  How lonely she must have been.
Words cannot describe the horror of waking up sick every day and of being sick every minute of every day.  Some days are better than others.  Some days I can handle the pain but I get those days when I think I can’t take it anymore and just want to end it all. 
Miracles do happen and I am defying the odds to become part of the “normal” world again.  The verdict of “there is no cure” just refuses to sink into my brain to take me to a place of acceptance.  Every day I live by grace, minute by minute and some days hour by hour.  How I wish I could go to a park and swing like a child again, to walk on the sand picking up bits of driftwood and seaweed or to learn to fly a kite.  My dreams are no longer big dreams but rather dreams of normal things that I know will lift my spirits.  I know I won’t be able to walk on a beach again, but I could sit and watch the waves.  I know that I could be taken to a park and I know I could sit on a swing and soar through the air as though I have no care in the world and I know that I could be taught to fly a kite.  

But who will take me?  Who will teach me?  Who will hold my hand while I pursue these dreams of mine? 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Patient Patience or Participating Patient

Most people see their doctor and do exactly what they are told to do.  They walk away after a five-minute consultation with a prescription and then they follow the doctor's orders.  These patients leave their health and their lives in the doctor’s hands, when in fact he has hundreds of 5-minute patients.  This kind of behaviour from a patient is fine if you have bronchitis, the flu or a migraine headache or any other minor ailment that requires no thought or relationship between the doctor and patient.
I am not one of those patients.  I am a participating patient and discuss the treatment, the appropriateness of it, the side effects and the long-term prognosis.  I have had to become a participating patient because I have a rare disease that is diagnosed only once in every ten million people.  Expecting a doctor to know about my condition is asking the impossible so I do the research, I listen to my body, I suggest the treatment regime and I take control of my own body and my own health.  I will never leave a doctor to treat me according to his limited knowledge of PID, SID or the rare kind of leukaemia I have. If I had done that, I would have been dead long ago.

I do the research.  I belong to a USA research group run by specialists via the internet by inserting my blood results into their database, they answer any questions and also discuss alternative treatments.   I, not the doctor, make the decisions on how I am going to stay alive for as long as possible with the least amount of discomfort.  Strangely enough, doctors actually sit back and listen to me and give me what I need because I am so much more well-informed than they are.  However, not every doctor would be willing to accommodate a participating patient because it dents their egos and makes them feel inadequate.  It is imperative to find a doctor who will have the humility to know that he does not know it all and who is prepared to have a relationship with you – a doctor who has a vested interest in you as a person and not in the money you are paying to see him.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Trapped - (Prisoner No: 213720963)

They got me trapped
Whole new different day
Some old thing
It's hard to breath’
When you ain’t well homey
No reason to live
When you ain’t got nothing to tell phony
Stress, no chance
Just to drop tears
It’s hell being in a cell
Proper communication becomes dead
But what wouldn’t I do for cash?
It got me trapped
Like Baleka in parliament
For a maximum of eleven years
Charges?  All HB and theft
Now I got nothing left but myself
As a man, you should understand
No one can cover long for your back
Hard times call for real family and friends
Because when you trapped, people disappear
Like where are they now Nas?
I only see them
When I’ve closed my eyes
I’m broke inside
No plan seems to ever work Like a drug addict’s hope on crack
Paul, I pray that these walls would crack
They got me trapped
Like dirt on a dustbin
To see the sun
I’m dependant on the key
This makes me ill
It's like these walls
Ain’t only got ears
They as well speak
This is sick
I miss them streets.

(Prisoner No: 213720963)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Some interesting writing coming out of St Albans Medium B prison.

A medium B prisoner's review of my book Shattered. If you would like a copy, inbox me as they are cheaper than getting from Amazon. Literary Analysis of Shattered by Dianne Lang.
The title of the book Shattered truly encapsulates the story as everything that the author held dear was shattered.
The setting is easily identified as the author gives direct information and the language usage is very synonymous with the work. The reader can establish the framework, time and place as well as the context of the work.
The author is very forthcoming with appearance, personality and actions of the characters. The Protagonist is the author and she makes it easy to identify with the characters as she portrays them in the light she sees them. The actions of the characters are interwoven with the plot, subplots and themes. These aspects allow the audience to visualise the characters and make them credible and real in the reader’s mind. The contrasting characters are perfectly used as “foils” to set off other characters to advantage or disadvantage. I identified on a personal level with the flow of the protagonist as her soliloquy is spread throughout as the conflict that occurs is portrayed by the characters.
The narrative is very linear even the flashbacks are too chronological. However, the denouement is perfectly implemented. Not all the sub-plots are intertwined and can confuse the reader at times, but it’s resolved in the climax and conclusion of the work. This technique forces the reader to focus and extend their ability to think laterally. I deem it excellent as the sequenced storyline portrays the author's abilities to create a credible plot.
Themes and subthemes
The exposition identifies the main theme and conveys the message of the author. Once again the soliloquy of the protagonist shows her beliefs and opinions and uses symbolism as a substitution of a concrete image for an abstract idea. The sub-themes include pain, suffering and loss of humanity. They are conveyed literally and figuratively and can only be revealed with understanding or an in-depth study of the work as they are symbolic.
The writer’s style is very individualistic. Her use of diction and language usage is very colloquial and concise. The purpose and setting also contribute significantly to her individual style.
The tone in which she conveys her emotions, underlying feelings and attitude differs as the storyline progress, therefore, the tone differs. This gives the reader a very mysterious mood that captures their interest making it hard to put down at times.
The author’s use of language devices also contributes to the confusion that leads to mystery and her view on forgiveness.
(Medium B Prisoner - Clayton)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ghetto Episode by Prisoner No 218788199

Ghetto Episode

Reminiscent of my days as a youth
These memories will never fade especially when it’s still the same
And if it’s not the government will tell me who’s to blame

Where the money burns holes in his pocket, spending millions of rands
Signing huge cheques for weapons of mass destruction with our tax
While I’m in the corner killing myself with cigarettes
Then go home and share my house with flies and rats.

At least I’m generous, you selfish it’s obvious
More than a wolf in a sheep's skin you are devious
Calling me notorious, obviously, I’m curious
To make it big and victorious

I don’t regret things I have done
I’m a matriculated ghetto son
Who just looked out for his black brothers
Had some profound lessons from my fallen fathers

Trying to play messenger as the corner occupier
And that ghetto soul whoés a day-night crier
On my ghetto episode, we were all chased by fire.


The Power of NO written by Prisoner 210690060

The Power of “NO”
All our lives we human creatures have been socially conditioned to say “YES”- but there’s far greater power in saying “no”.  The word “YES” is a sugar-coated, misguided tactic inherited from our mothers, which is associated with reliability and even passion.
We’re led to believe that it’s the only way we can get our foot in the door, after which hard work and working smart will get us to the top.  In our defining years, we also often say “YES” to relationships that damage us and an existence that doesn’t reflect our true value.
When we're younger, the word “NO” is terrifying.  We say “YES”more often because we’re afraid to fall out of favor. We place too much significance on being liked.
The trouble with saying “YES” when we think “NO” is that it doesn’t change how we feel.  All we’ve done is hide behind a glorified omission.  That’s why some women are leaders in the public arena, but go home and leave their power outside the door of their own lives.  Sadly, fairy-tales built on a lie often end in misery.  My mother is one of my spiritual and inspirational mentor’s – a conqueror and leader – taught me that “things end badly because they start badly”.
That’s why we have to be careful what we agree to from the beginning.  If we keep saying “YES” to less, we’ll keep attracting less, regardless of gender.  “N NO”means you are worth more than that and enough is enough.  “No” means Ï’m standing my ground”.  “I know who I am and I am standing my ground”.  “I know who I am and I’m unapologetic”.
The flame of every revolution in history was ignited by the word “No”.   The 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto began when school pupils said “NO” to Afrikaans as the medium of instruction – but to some, this was already programmed.  “NO” creates discomfort for those on both the giving and receiving ends.
It shatters’s perceptions and challenges popular thinking.  But there’s an art to saying “NO”.  It can’t come from the tip of your tongue or the top of your head. Fit to resonate with conviction it needs to come from the pit of your soul – the place where God lives.  You have to trust it with your sinews, you have to be emotionally ready to embrace a new reality.
You have to believe there’s much more to be had.  Successfully saying “NO” requires a ride-or-die mentality.  You have to be absolutely prepared to lose.  Imagine walking into a business negotiation, terrified that you might mess it up.  The chances are high that you’ll compromise yourself by saying””NO”.
“NO” requires us to emotionally detach ourselves from the very thing we desire.  As a wise man once said, “The key to being loved is not needing to be loved”.  When we are young, we spend our lives trying to affirm ourselves, afraid to drop the ball for even a minute because we are afraid the world will see us as we see ourselves.  We say “YES” because we’re so afraid the world and another opportunity will never present itself again.
Well, here’s what I’ve learned.   Smart men and women say “NO” when they mean it – because they know who they are and crucially, who they are not.  They are no longer building bridges, but crossing them – as proudly black.  That’s true power.  We are going somewhere but we are not going the same way.

PRISONER 210690060

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Look what I got in my FB Inbox tonight

Every morning I drive 37kms to town for kids school... I then go and park my bakkie at the court where I sit until 13:30 when school comes out. Then 37km back home. Then washing, if theres water.. cooking... kids.. homework.. and and and. We stay in a very old farmhouse.. bathroom has half the floor missing.. ceiling is completely ruined. Ive applied for I dont even know how many positions. No luck. 3 years ago I was on top of the world. I was the first ever Loss Control Manager for Pick n Pay. Handpicked for the position. I fell really hard...I could not even buy my 8-year-old a birthday present. A friend arranged for a cake and I had some balloons. We had a small celebration Sunday afternoon. The birthday girl asked when will she be getting her present. And I had to lie to her. I have 3 amazing children. My son is a genius, oldest daughter head girl and the little one is all in one. I dont know why Im telling you all this. I know you have a busy life. I'm depressed today because I lied to my little one. Im angry because daddy just never gave a fuck. Im glad I got rid of him when I did. Im grateful that hes not part of their lives. But I hate him for not caring. Im sorry for telling you all this. Im not looking for sympathy. I have so many blessings and am very humble and grateful. Im sorry for not having money right now. I wanted to spoil myself with your books as I love reading you. I've had a shitty life.. but want to be a Dianne one day. (Lord help us - one is enough) I hope you sleep well. We should get together. I will start playing Lotto xxx

I am going to send her my books - that is the extent to which I can help. If you can provide that little one with a birthday present, you would be changing the world for one family. Contact me. They live in Heilbron.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Three Hours With 20 Prisoners

I spent the morning with 20 inmates at St Albans Prison today.  I went there for National Library Week and did a workshop on writing.  Writing can help anyone to overcome their traumatic past through the cathartic experience of re-telling the story and dropping the emotional baggage that keeps you captive.  Writing frees a person and allows one to dream and set goals again.   The pen is the voice of the soul.   It was a wonderful day and we all enjoyed ourselves. 
I wish the public could just once have the honor of sitting with a group of inmates (because it was an honor for me) and you will soon realize that these are human beings – they could be your brother or father, your son or your uncle. 
Society has such a negative attitude towards prisoners.  Easy to say “You did the crime, now do the time”.  The saddest thing of all is that approximately 14% of our prisoners are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit but are sitting there because justice is bought in our country.  Advocates play Russian roulette with people’s lives swopping one accused of another and organizing the sentencing before they have even been to court.  And this is not even the shoddy and despicable police investigations we are speaking about.
There are more criminals that need to be in prison that are on the streets than the prisoners I met today.  The room was filled with so much potential.  Many people on the street and out there are not in prison because they just never got caught.  
You may wonder how I did it – spending three hours with 20 prisoners (and one or two wardens for 5 minutes at a time now and again) being sick.  Well, I did it with an oxygen machine and a wheelchair – I was assisted the entire time by the men and even had a medical professional administer my medication through my port.
God carried me through the day – after all, this is His work and we were told to visit prisoners.  I had a very happy day.  And I am the richer for it. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Article 4: Living With a Chronic Disease

It’s a lot harder to beat depression when you are clinically sick than when you’re not.
Doctors and physicians are very reluctant and loath to challenge one another’s diagnosis.  It is a dirty medical profession secret.  Everyone has a lot at stake.  The first opinion may be wrong and you die.  The second opinion may be a better option.  The physician has your LIFE in his hands – your LIFE and your SOUL and you deserve respect for that.  Doctors must start coming off their high horses and start becoming more truthful.  If they don’t know they don’t know.  We would respect them more.
Because most cancer and other debilitating diseases can be a very clear warning of death, we tend to filter out the information so that it confirms the belief you already have.  If you think you dying, you will filter out the high percentage that live.  We must listen more and be open and transparent.  We must learn to ask the right questions, even if you write them out at home before you get to the physician.
Doctors must empower patients – they must allow for patient participation instead of playing at being god and expecting us to swallow everything they say.  A participating patient will live longer.  I am so participating that I tell the doctors what is wrong and what to do now.  My life is important and I want to live it the best way I can.  I don’t care if the doctor does not like me – I will go to another one.
It takes one human being to make the difference between life and death.  Just one human being who cares.
Cancer patients universally know they have cancer before the diagnosis.

Set aside a little time each day to relax and be at peace to allow the spirit to flow into you from God.  It is like a telephone.  Shut up and listen. 

Article 3 : Living With A Chronic Illness

If you feel like a worthy person, you will have a reason to stay alive.  Know that you are a worthy person; no matter what anyone says.  You are worthy to enjoy the best life that you can under your circumstances.  I am worthy of having my husband come in and talk to me for 30 minutes in the evening instead of watching television.   I am worthy of a telephone call “I’ve been thinking about you.  Is there anything I can do for you?”    When I ask my husband to knock a nail in the wall (because I can’t do it myself anymore) or any other thing you need (and our needs are small – we are fully aware that we are asking a favour) – we are worthy of it being done.  Surely we do not have to ask 5 times until we sound like we are nagging?  This is written by a woman, but I am aware that many men also have the same problems although their needs may be different from a woman’s needs.  We are worthy of asking our partners to please go to the chemist to buy our nappies we need.  We are worthy human beings.  Being chronically sick does not make you less important than healthy human beings.
I read a book written by Paul C Roud, called Making Miracles.  It was an eye-opener of note.  He was interviewing a woman who had been given 3 months to live and this was 10 years later.  The interviewee said, “It’s ironic, but my sister and brother were jealous of me, jealous of all the attention I got:  My sister admitted to me that she hated my guts because so much of my mom’s time was spent on me”.  Well, that is what happened to me too.  I wrote about it in my book Shattered.  And these are not children – they are adults.

I loved the story I read in his book about the woman who came home from the doctor with bad news on her cancer.  Her husband was lying on the couch and the first thing he said to her was “What’s for supper”.   The next morning, she packed her cardboard suitcase with her clothes, took the little housekeeping money she had, climbed on a bus and checked into a boarding house.  The next day she went to the lawyer and asked him to get her a divorce.   When he asked her why she said, “I have been living with that man for 38 years.  If I only have three months to live, then I want it to be a happy three months’.    Her interview with Dr. Roud also took place ten years after that bad diagnosis.  My advice is to do whatever it is that will make you happy. Don’t worry about what other people say – it actually is none of their fucking business.  

Article 2: Living With a Chronic Illness

The unknown also holds a promise that anything is possible.  Let go of your past life, think about what you want to do that you love to do, don’t think of the negatives in it – the negatives disappear once you doing what you love.  Anything is possible.  I was a people person – a human rights activist actually on the ground, doing the most hair raising things.   Now I have moved that activism onto social media and I am writing.  Writing is what I love to do.  If one person can be helped by reading my work, then the book was worth the time and effort put into it.  The greater the hardship of the journey to get to finding and doing what you love, the greater the possible outcome.
It is impossible to do more than one thing at a time.  People do not understand this of a chronically ill person.  We are already doing a lot of things just to stay conscious to what is going on in one’s body while at the same time trying to focus on more than one thing.   It drives us crazy.  Have some patience with us, please.
What the fuck is wrong with doctors?  Doctors are only worth the amount of respect they have for our souls.  The other day I heard a doctor tell a terminal cancer patient who had not eaten in 10 days, to go home and cut down on her morphine dosage.  Why?  What kind of doctoring is that?  He cared nothing for her as a soul or even as another human being.
People with cancer and life threatening diseases experience intense feelings of isolation.  This disconnectedness from society can shrivel a person’s will to live.  So if you can, find one of us to visit or to phone now and again.  We are not asking much.
There is a culture of “deal with your pain “rather than become dependent on pain meds amongst many doctors.   Why does one have to suffer if there is something that can help us?  Who gives a shit when we are balancing on the rail between life and death if we become dependent on it?

My own reality of my ‘appalling’ illness is very different to that which others perceive.  I call it appalling “because what is wrong with me is diagnosed 1 in 10 million.  That does not make me special.  It does not make the doctor sit up and think “mmm … here is a challenge for me”.   It makes me a problem with a capital P. 

Article 1: Living With A Chronic Illness

There are many people who live with chronic, debilitating or incurable conditions.   While most people take their health for granted because they are in the majority – chronically ill people take nothing for granted.  If the hand moves, if you breathe, if your heart is beating in rhythm, if you managed to get out of bed and go to the toilet on your own if you could brush your teeth … all these little things we rejoice in.  To be able to have a conversation with someone without losing your breath or diving for the oxygen, it is a wondrous event.
Some of the things I have learned during my 6 years of survival (because one cannot really call it life because life is LIVING and we are not able to LIVE to the degree a healthy person can) are the following:
Some people are not aware of other people’s feelings.  And once it is said, all the apologies in the world won’t take it back.  Chronically ill people use social media to maintain contact with their own species.  One of the terrible ordeals is to be put in a place where contact with other humans is thwarted – we are social animals and we need to socialize.  What is written on FaceBook lives forever and forever in the heart of a person who is chronically ill and a nasty or stupid comment makes the light shine a little less bright.
One of the key ingredients of doing well with a major illness is to believe that anything is possible and if today was bad, tomorrow holds the possibility of being a better day.  Not a well day – just a better day.  Maybe tomorrow you will have less pain, you will vomit less, you will stop shitting through the eye of a needle and you may even get a visitor.  We have to believe that anything is possible.
If you want to stay alive you have to have a reason to do so.  Doing what you love to do and loving what you do is an important ingredient that gives one a reason to want to stay alive – because death would be so easy for any of us.  All we would have to do is give up and then take a bunch of our medications.  I do not believe that there is one single person who suffers from chronic illnesses who has not done the research on how to kill themselves properly and how much medication it will take. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inmates are the Scourge of the Earth

To most people, inmates of prisons are the scum of the earth.  How many times have I heard the “He did the crime, he must do the time” and how often have I heard derogatory remarks about prisoners?  We watch the news or read the newspapers and actually get a kick out of reading about another person who is put in jail for a long period of time.  Inmates are viewed as the scourge of society and I am going to do my very best to show the world that prisoners are people too.  I think the worst thing I heard being said about an inmate is that “I hope he rots in jail”, or “he does not deserve to be treated like a human being and therefore should have no human rights”.
I made a commitment today – a commitment to the young and old men in Medium B at St Alban’s Prison.   I have committed myself to be their liaison officer, their mentor, their go-between, their friend and their confidante.   Against doctors’ orders and the absolute horror expressed by my mom and my husband, I went and did a three-hour workshop on debating, reviewing and writing skills for approximately 25 men.   I don’t know who had the better time – they or I.  I had an amazing time spent with such an incredibly diverse and yet coherent group of men.  Not once did I feel threatened in any way.  I was in a very safe space, no wardens around and just the inmates and me.
I prepared nothing – I was skating on my arse with the experience I already had.  They had prepared so many things for me; two reviews on one of my books, a Capella with rap, poetry written and recited to me … they were amazing.  And Heinrich van Rooyen organized all that to take place.   A huge big thank you must go to Mr PC Plaatjies, the warden who made this all possible.
We were serious, we laughed, we squealed with delight – there was nothing but sheer joy in that classroom for three hours today.
Those are not animals in there, as I have also heard them described.  They are gentlemen; they are intelligent, pleasing to the eye and most entertaining.  And each and every one of them have crept into my heart.  As I always have to have something greater than I am to live for, I will be living for this group of amazing human beings as well.

Who amongst us all, have not committed a sin?  Who amongst us all, have never made a mistake?  It was a privilage and an honor to spend those three hours in their company.  Those are my boys now!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Open Letter to my Siblings

I hope you will look at all your good qualities and realize how important you are to those who love you.
Reflect on all the things that make you – you.
I hope you’ll find ways to make the difficult times easier, your cares lighter and the days brighter.  I pray that mysteries will unfold for you to make a difference in your life now.
I hope you’ll tap into that source of strength I know is within you, that place where hope and courage live and new ideas are born.
I hope you will connect with the kind of faith that helps you to reach your chosen goals.  As you ease from one day to another, I hope you find time to consider the miracle of your own life and the beauty of your humanity.

I hope that a band of ministering angels will hover around you and protect you.