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.