Kids learn about life in jail

2019-07-02 06:01
A rare opportunity for model citizens to socialise with inmates at Pollsmoor Prison.PHOTO: Tarryn Solomons

A rare opportunity for model citizens to socialise with inmates at Pollsmoor Prison.PHOTO: Tarryn Solomons

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In another attempt to keep the youth out of jail, Pollsmoor Prison opened its doors to allow groups of children from a number of organisations to see what prison life is all about – from inside.

Among the group invited to visit the prisoners as they went about their daily routine was a group of children from Ocean View High School.

Spokesperson for Pollsmoor Prison Lewies Davids explained the purpose of this tour to the group of about 40 people who chose to visit.

“We do not want the youth to become a statistic. This visit is to show you what life is really like inside these walls.”

The visitors were escorted into the Medium C cells, the section of the prison that houses criminals who have committed all types of offences, have less than two years left of their sentences and are soon to be released back into society.

Led through Medium C by David Carelse; coordinator for sports, recreation, arts and crafts at the prison, the message he emphasised was that of freedom.

“Even the dogs in my neighbourhood walk around free, at any time of the night. Here, you are not free. You stay in your cell – and freedom is the most important thing you have.”

He invited the inmates who cook meals daily into a cell with the group of 40 to tell their stories.

While most of the cells were locked with their inmates inside, some were spending time basking in the sun, and as Davids had said, were visibly excited by the sights of new faces.

“When we go inside they’re going to be happy to see free people because they haven’t seen free people for a long time,” Davids had forewarned.

Anathi Siswana and Dimitri Muller were two of the Ocean View High School learners who formed part of the tour, both of whom had never been inside a jail cell before.

Muller shared his first experience: “What scared me was the thought about what happens there when they lock the doors. The officers aren’t inside to see what’s happening inside the doors when it’s sleep time.”

Davids told the youngsters about the problem of overcrowding in the prison. Cells built to accommodate 36 sometimes have 90 people sleeping in the cell.

Deterred from a life of crime, Muller said: “We youngsters, should stay away from doing the wrong things.”

Siswana added: “You must listen to your elders or else you are going to end up here.”


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