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.