Monday, February 13, 2017

Appointment with a killer - Heinrich van Rooyen

My view for over an hour and a half
Last Sunday was a day from hell.  We had made arrangements from the previous visit that we could drive our vehicle into the prison to Medium B.  It was all worked out.  Be there at 8, see Heini and by 10 Patrick could be at work.   And I woke up as sick as a township dog but Heini knew I was coming so come hell or high water, I would be there.  The wardens only know Heinrich van Rooyen by the name of "Heini".
Nothing in Africa ever works according to plan.  Different staff were on duty and because I am in a wheelchair, am unable to go from the main gate with the bus to the various sections of the prison; in my case Medium B.  I had to wait for a member (that is what all the wardens call themselves and they are addressed as Sir).  The title of this article is to draw your attention, and does not mean that I believe he is guilty.  I believe in his case it was a gross miscarriage of justice and corruption by the police. The police are looking into the new evidence brought before them by Alan D Elsdon.  Time will tell of this political hot potato in a later article.
I needed to wait for an official vehicle from inside the prison to come and collect me, as took place the previous visit.  This took more than an hour and a half; every query treated with respect by a member – but nothing happened.  I was feeling more and more desperate, more and more ill and nauseous, and extremely stressed by Patrick’s need to get back to work. Fortunately, I carry extra medication and injected myself sitting in the vehicle outside the main gate.
Patrick offered various options to the members, one being for two or more members to drive us inside the gates.  We were told if we wanted to do that we would have to get a letter from Stander, who was on duty in Medium B.  But Stander had been called a number of times already.  By now I was crying.  I had no way to notify Heini that I was not coming and for me a promise is a promise.  Patrick needs to be saluted for his patience.  We watched the bus come and go from the main gate to the various sections of the prison, but they would not take me in the bus – I had to wait for a member to come and fetch me to take me inside to Medium B.
By the time I was eventually fetched, I was crying, sobbing and distraught.  Even my water that I had taken for this supposedly hour visit was finished.  I just could not stop crying, no matter how hard I tried to pull myself together.  The member who drove me into Medium B was very kind.  My plastic packet was searched (for the first time) and Heini knew I was bringing him a harmonica amongst his registration papers for IT. The harmonica was taken from me.  The member told me that a knife could be made from the harmonica.  Because it is my favourite Lark harmonica and the first one I learned to play on, the tears started again.  The member promised to give it back to me after the visit, which he did.
My wheelchair ride from the vehicle into the building was a nightmare but it was being pushed by one person after another, by visitors and members alike.  Once inside the building I asked to see Mr Stander and then Heini, as I had been told to do at the main gate.  Mr Stander was busy so I had to wait, knowing in the background of my brain that Patrick was late for a job. I saw Mr Stander, told him of my woes of getting into the prison and then I was pushed into the visitors’ area while Heini was called.  I had my back to him so I did not know that it was he who wrapped his arms around me from the back, but when he came to the front of me, his face went white.  “Oh, God, what happened?  What happened?  Why are you crying?” he asked.  I told him and explained that I could not stay long.  I handed him his paperwork spoke quickly and we just hugged, with me still sobbing. He    continually wiped my tears with his hands for I had no tissues with me.  This was not how my visit was planned.   My mom had sent him R100 which a prisoner can spend at the small shop in the visitors area so we went through the motions of writing down what he needed and then going to the shop.  Heini did the pushing. I felt safe and a lot less unhappy and the tears had dried.  At least Heini knew that I had not broken my word.  During our brief visit, a member came to ask me for my name and ID number, which I gave.  Heini had to give his name and number.  I was asked questions about Patrick but I did not know the answers.  Heini was distraught at seeing me in such a condition and so ill. With the shopping done, I asked Heini to take me to the entrance so I could get back to Patrick. 
Then one of two miracles happened.  Our leaving was interrupted by a man from the shop calling us over.  He put out his hand for me to shake and said, “Thank you for visiting Heini.  You have made him very happy”.  Heini was elated…”Did you hear that?  Did you hear that? That’s never happened before.  “It’s a miracle”
We hugged goodbye at the gate and I was pushed by another pleasant member to the street to wait for transport and the second miracle happened.  Patrick was waiting outside.  I was given my harmonica back and given a letter, signed by Mr Stander allowing Patrick’s vehicle, with his registration plate, ID etc, the name of the offender and my name and ID number.  The letter stated that I was allowed to be taken to Medium B in Patrick’s vehicle.  A true miracle.  One I never expected.  I have high regard for the wardens who have dealt with me to date.

I am slowly learning the rules. There are no memos for people to know what can and what can’t be done. It is 4 am and I am awake because I had to nebulize and inject myself.  I can’t get back to sleep so am writing this.  If you can assist me in any way, please contact me on or watch my video, or follow my previous blogger posts.  We need items for Heini’s IT Course, Alan Elsdon has painted himself into a corner with this investigation so we need money for petrol for him to take the case to Cape Town now … and I need help with his tuition fees.  We hope he will be released but in the meantime … TIA. 
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