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. 
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