Posted by: hazelmeda | October 1, 2012

In-depth 1 October 2012

Today I went to the Magistrate’s Court on Fox Street. I spoke to four family members of people in remand. They were waiting for their loved one’s bail hearings.

I realised that it’s painful for them to talk about the situation. Some of them were also very  suspicious at first, but when they saw that I was sympathetic they opened up a bit.

What I am getting from them so far, regarding my project, is that the visits they are allowed to Sun CIty prison are too short. One mother said she only spoke for 15 minutes. She said other people had to get in to see their relatives. So I think that the length of the visits is related to the general issue of overcrowded prisons.

Another issue I think might be relevant is that they have to hear from acquaintances that their loved one has been arrested. It seems there might be difficulty in that initial communication between the accused and the family.

Another interesting issue that came up was the fact that the families don’t know how to use the microphones during the visits. It seems like there was no orientation or information about how to use them and that proved a problem to first-time visitors. This seems like a fairly simple thing, but it affected communication and the family members and detainee couldn’t hear each other.

Of course there is the issue of speaking to remand detainees through glass.

Problems today:

1. I tried to locate the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders , supposedly at Cnr Eloff and Commissioner Streets, but it wasn’t there.

Will try to look for Nicro in Soweto on Wednesday.

2. The detainees I had wanted to try to visit in Sun City have apparently been sentenced and moved, so I will have to try some other names.

3. The numbers I  tried for the Bethal prison don’t work most of the time. When I got through and asked to be connected to the social workers to talk about the family day they had there (the one a mother I spoke to missed because she couldn’t afford the transport), it rang unanswered until I gave up.



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