Thanks to the combined efforts of the Wits Justice Project, human rights attorney Egon Oswald, advocate Carol Steinberg and wrongfully convicted co-accused Thembekile Molaudzi, two men have left prison carrying little else besides a heavy burden of betrayal by the criminal justice system.
The year is 1994, a few weeks before South Africa’s first democratic election, and two security guards are murdered at a Checkers supermarket. One man is convicted, Anthony De Vries, and after 17 years in prison he still claims to be innocent. An eight-part podcast called Alibi will explore if Anthony is guilty or innocent. As the story unfolds you’ll discover car chases with the cops, bullets buried in video shops and a wheelchair-bound, incredibly friendly bank robber.
Anyone who still thinks SA’s prisons are luxury hotels should think again – particularly about the underlying reasons why inmates died, warders were critically injured and cells set alight during rioting at Leeuwkop, Krugersdorp, St Albans and Johannesburg (Sun City) prisons late last year.
Ruth examines America’s repugnant history of lynchings and a project to remember its victims. A timely reminder of where we must refuse to return to.
Ruth Hopkins reflects on her recent visit to the United States of America, where processes of truth telling reminded her of its history of slavery and lynching. She learned that it can actually be destructive not to acknowledge the pains, horrors and atrocities of the past.
Anyone taking the time to mine the turgid annual reports of SA’s bloated bureaucracy will occasionally be rewarded with a gem – a valuable nugget of information which will make the mostly tedious task worthwhile.
The deadly margin of error in death penalty cases should come as a salutary warning to those wanting to reinstate capital punishment in South Africa.
Consider the case of Anthony Ray Hinton from Alabama, US.
Clearly the use of force behind bars is highly contentious. In terms of the law, the only permissible force is minimum or necessary force, used to stop or prevent a dangerous situation. Any other force is regarded as gratuitous, excessive and unlawful. Yet prison officials operating in the context of the prevailing culture of violence appear to resort to violence as a default position.
Gregory Bright, who spent 27 years in Angola for a crime he did not commit, agrees. “There were always guys who came back injured from the rodeo,” he says. “One guy had severe kidney problems after he was attacked by one of the bulls. He later died from complications. No one talks about that.”