Investigative Journalism

This Is What Life In Prison Is Really Like For Women In South Africa

When women and crime end up in the same headline in South Africa, it usually concerns women who are victims of domestic violence and rape. But women also commit crimes and end up serving time in prison. WJP senior journalist Ruth Hopkins' first piece in her four part series on women in prison. She spoke to women incarcerated in Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town and Johannesburg Correctional Centre about how they ended up in prison and how they survive behind bars. 

Gang versus gang

The line between legitimacy and vigilantism has been blurred as prisoners accuse the fear free life group, established to alleviate drugs and gangsterism in prisons, of allegedly operating much like a gang in some Gauteng prisons.

Law fails women who kill partners in self-defence

Victims of domestic and intimate partner violence such as Reeva Steenkamp and Karabo Mokoena grab headlines and trigger protests, but the women who stay alive by killing their abusive partners in self-defence are forgotten and misunderstood.

Tortured behind bars

In March, Kgolofelu Khoza was allegedly chained in a crouching position to a door in an isolation unit – also known as the “bomb cells” – at Johannesburg Correctional Centre. He claims he was kept there for two days and a night.

Lifers, Riots and Parole

At the start of this month, prison guards at Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria injured inmates sentenced to life who were protesting against the delays in their parole processes. The Wits Justice Project (WJP) has seen pictures of four prisoners with head wounds and large bruises on their limbs.