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  • Gabby Fels

The curse of Apartheid

This is a sample of my journal, written throughout my teaching period at a prison.


I don’t think we realise the impact apartheid had on African people. I keep thinking back to “the sins of the Father....down to the third or the fourth generation”. We have a long, long way to go. I also don’t believe the inmates can be rehabilitated by anything other than love. They respond so positively, it is like seeing someone ‘come alive’ again. They, (some – not all), emerge out of the darkness, back into the light, and start to participate again in life. I had a lovely quote from an inmate....”I talk and have a bright face”. I was deeply moved by that. In fact, I am always being deeply moved by these extra-ordinary people who have done, supposedly, extraordinarily evil deeds. And the fact is, not all of them have murdered people. I have met a LOT whom I believe to be innocent, and I feel incredibly deep compassion for them.


One young fellow had a job and was standing at the bus stop when a friend (an old man) stopped by in a car. There were two other unknown men in the car. The old man was a passenger in the back seat. He invited the young man to catch a lift with them. My friend got in and thought it was his lucky day. There was a cell phone call and the two men in the front were involved in the conversation. The only thing the inmate heard was “Now”...but didn’t really know what was going on. They then said they were driving via the East Rand, okay? He thought that was fine – better than going by bus. Next thing they drove into a factory. The two men got out and disappeared.


My friend and the old man remained in the car. Shots were fired, and people were running all over the place. The police arrived within minutes. The old man in the car was shot and my friend got out of the car, but the police arrested him. When he got to court he hoped the old man would be there to testify, but he died before hand. My friend did not know who the other two men were, and they had escaped.


Being stuck in a prison filled with some really bad men must be a fate worse than death. And for years and years. Apparently, people had been killed in this particular robbery.


Although I do not know for sure whether this is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”...the young man who told this story is so naive and looks/acts so innocent...who knows, maybe it is I who is the fool. Never mind, it is the “I” who feels the love.


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