I saw a Doc on TV about Jails in South Africa. I try to summarize
what I saw, using my not-so-good memory.
They had many
'number' Gangs, where each Gang was called by a number like 24
Some of the 'men' were absolutely appalling & savage killers.
One had tattoo's all over his face &
neck. one tattoo on his face said "I hate u Mom"! Almost
all had tattoo's.
interviewed in the program & they all bragged about how they
had killed many men outside & inside the jail.
how he had made a weapon with toothbrush & shaving blades
& showed how he would kill a man: slash his eye first, so
he'd cover his eyes, then u grab him & slash his neck several
times to finish him off. He was the toughest one, who had killed
many men outside & inside the jail. He was only sent to walk
in the yard when other prisoners were not there.
of each gang savagely hated all members of all the other Gangs.
Each cell had 5-10 male prisoners in them. Members of 2 Gangs
would not share cells.
were called 'birds'. On their first day of jail, they'd be selected
by the Gangs & were 'herded' into the gang-cell, where they
would be used as sex slaves & domestic servants to do all
the cleaning tasks for the Gang leaders.
u had to join a Gang. To join a Gang, u had to pass the initiation
tests & elaborate ceremonies. Often u had to slash somebody
or even the guards to prove u'r loyalty. U never ever gave up
the 'number': u never confessed which number-gang u belonged to!
That was the biggest crime, only punished by death. They were
always doing weight lifting & bodybuilding & had to look
like rough killers ("don't mess with me u ***** " attitude).
said he was 'marked' meaning he was told that he'd be 'slashed'
any day. He was very scared. The guy with I-hate-u-Mom on his
face said he had this tattooed coz he thought he'd never get out.
new prisoners cried, telling their story of being raped &
constantly being beaten up by Gang leaders. If u didn't submit,
u'd be killed without any mercy. This is how the leaders were
treated when they were young too. This is how it has always been.
I was disgusted
watching it & was about to switch off when I saw a woman talking
about "conflict resolution" ! The chief/warden said
they brought her in to teach the prisoners about conflict resolution
hoping to improve things!!! I almost fell off my chair thinking
"u got to be joking", which idiot came up with this
So they set
up a session with her & a few prisoners & she explained
y she was there. U should've seen the way the men looked at her!
showed hostility towards her & said she wouldn't last a week
& was already 'marked'.
But she kept
on having sessions after sessions with them, first starting with
a few volunteers & got
bigger gradually. In one of the early sessions, she asked the
men to pair off & talk to each other &
later on to hold each other & talk about their feeling &
Early on many
laughed & found it to be a big ****ing joke. u can imagine!
Some refused to join the group & called her names & were
extremely suspicious. To my surprise the toughest guy TB (toothbrush
blade) & also IH (I hate u mom) were among the early groups.
As time went by the feeling/ambience got 'heavier' & people
IH said he had many bad memories from his childhood & his
Mom & how he was a 'bird' once, but joined the Gang &
rose to the top & how this 'number' was his life now &
how the Gang was his family & how lost he'd be without it.
She once played
an opera from Puccini & all listened very quietly. They said
they had never heard anything like it before.
One day she
took them to an empty cell & said she had an important announcement
to make. She said this was the very solitary cell where Nelson
Mandella was kept for many years! She said she hoped that Mandella's
spirit & his hope for the new South Africa could help the
men to improve on their lives. Most men were touched & were
quiet. She asked TB how he felt, but he was deep in thought &
said his feelings were all he had in there & she was asking
too much. But gradually he started talking about how outside he
was a 'father' & a 'husband', but inside he was the leader
of '24' & so many looked up to him & he had to be tough
& meet the expectations. He said that the 'number' was now
his life having been in jail for over 30 years. He talked about
how he has lost so much in life by being in jail & how he
is sorry for not being there for his children when they needed
him & how he is sorry for causing pain to so many people.
He looked very sad & was looking at the floor while talking.
There was total silence in the room & some
men quietly wept.
I was deeply
moved by the second half of this film.
When I see
all the raw HATE among so many Iranians, I often think of this
one day resolve their hate & conflicts?!
Does it need
time for all the old timers to fade away? An Afghan friend told
me this was needed there. He said it would get 'normal' after
a few generations. But this did not happen in Yugoslavia &
the old HATE came out with a vengeance & caused so much damage
& lead to genocide where old neighbors killed/raped each other
& destroyed their own country/village/life. I've seen films
of people growing up together, being best friends & drink
together & be neighbors, but one day they just turned against
each other! Many tortured/killed the families of their own neighbors
& "best friends"!
people that no crimes were committed & it was just a holy
uprising against an evil regime in the name of Allah work in the
long run? How about the thousands of families whose loved ones
were butchered, could they forget too?
But it's not
just 2 groups, is it? So many divided groups all hating each other
& all dictating how it must be.
And how about
all the hateful killers of K-IRI, could they ever forget? Could
they ever become human again?!
Cry and The Homecoming
For a hundred
years, South Africa's prisons have held a dark and, until now,
impenetrable secret. It is the secret of a tightly organized criminal
gang network called 'The Numbers'.
The men of
the Numbers Gangs break their code of silence for the first time
to reveal the inner workings of a fraternity that is almost mystical
in the lifelong devotion it inspires in its members.
of negotiation, reporter Allan Little was granted access to the
secret world of the Numbers system,
to witness a brave and, at times, breathtaking attempt by South
Africa's new non-racial prison authorities to break the hierarchy
of violence on which the Numbers system is built.
self-confessed multiple murderer and 'General' in the Numbers
Gangs, will soon be released. Now he must make a choice between
his prison brotherhood and a wife and daughters living in poverty
outside. In the past he has terrorized his family with beatings,
even rape. Can they quell their fear to give him a final opportunity
to change his ways? Set in South Africa, the film is a sequel
to the highly successful Killers Don't Cry. It follows Mogamat
as a free man in a gang-infested area called the Cape Flats, where
the number of violent deaths exceeds that of the West Bank.
This is the
story of reaching into the hearts of evil men.
Their code is spoken a special language that can only be learnt
Prisoners outnumber the guards by 100 to 1. Half of them have
been stabbed at least once. Gangs = 26 & 28
Gangs were created as a way of resisting the cruelty of the White
28 was created in 1906 by a revolt of 28 black prisoners.
name was Mogamat.
He had been in jail for 34 years. His rank was a General in the
-we rob them, we rape them, we do everything negative to them
to teach them they must respect the Gang.
-We didn't trust the new prisoner, so he had to be killed. I was
naked when we killed him coz I din't want blood on my cloths.
His heart was removed & eaten, I ate first.
-I want to suppress my feelings coz I don't want to be seen as
weak, I want to be seen as macho.
-(at the end) I feel like an idiot coz I am also a follower. I
feel pain in my guts. I feel pain for all the
pain I caused for other people's lives & my family & my
mother too. I'm a guy who is afraid of anything.
All these years I was an idiot coz I was a follower.
(H8u) rank in 28-Gang was a Judge to ensure rules are obeyed.
-If we see u scared, we'll kill u coz we know u can betray us.
U want to talk & laugh with me, I laugh with u, but I know
u'd be killed tonight.
-U can only come into the Gang by spilling blood.
-What am gonna do with my life? Do I hold on to the Gang values?
I'm scared of the outside, I was there & I came back.
-(after Puchini music): I don't want talk about my feelings. I
am very careful with my feelings.
-A lot of things about my family F*s my brain, so I use drugs
to put myself in a comma. Joanna (Woman):
-Most of them have not been taught the basics like "thank
u", "I beg u'r pardon", they r just brainwashed
by the Gang values.
-(to h8u) Y do we suppress our feelings in prison? Coz we don't
want other people to see it, coz we r too scared, coz men don't
cry, coz killers don't cry.
-There is a human being inside that rapist & killer, I want
to raise awareness
-I met my father in this prison. He made me a 26 member.
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