Inmates 'protect' Barbie

2010-05-23 23:00

Johannesburg - White women serving long prison sentences have taken 32-year-old Cézanne Visser - commonly known as Advocate Barbie - under their wing at the Pretoria Central Prison.

Visser, a former advocate, was found guilty of indecent acts with three girls from children's homes and three young women. She was found guilty on 11 of the 14 charges and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Several female inmates who spoke to Beeld said when Visser arrived last Monday, all the inmates were sent to their sections and locked up until after Visser had moved into her cell.

These women say they were locked up because the wardens thought they would assault her because of what she had done to underage children.

Nervous Barbie

"Firstly, we don't like fighting at all, because we know how sad it is to end up in prison and how it feels on that first day.

"She (Visser) was very nervous and she couldn't stop crying. The whites who got long sentences were the first to go and introduce themselves and talk to her. They're standing by her," said one of the women who prefers to remain anonymous.

Another woman said: "Women don't fight and rape each other in prison. We're one big, happy family.

"Even the wardens are nice to us."

Johann Lemmer, Visser's stepfather, confirmed the women's stories on Sunday and said: "It's true that especially white women serving long sentences have shown Cézanne compassion.

"I can also confirm that she was not assaulted and that all the inmates are very good to her. Even the officials have been kind to Cézanne, but they don't single her out.

"The rats in the cells are the only problem, and that's the truth."

Trying to be a model inmate

However, Lemmer did not want to elaborate about the rats, and simply said Visser is new and being "closely watched".

"She's trying to be a model inmate. She still cries a lot, since this is extremely difficult for her.

"She has accepted her fate, but her mother (Susan Visser) and I are still having a difficult time. We're looking at other legal steps to see if we can get her out of prison."

It's exactly one week on Monday since Visser started serving her seven-year sentence.

Meanwhile, Philip de Bruin reports that at least three books about Visser will appear in the next few months. Lemmer confirmed on Sunday that he, too, is writing a book about her.

The second book is being written by Niki Pistorius, a criminologist from Pretoria, who testified during Visser's trial. The third book about Visser is written by Martie Swanepoel, a journalist at Sarie magazine.