Knitting broken lives together stitch by stitch

The “Massive Mandela Masterpiece” (MMM) project, aimed at creating the largest portrait blanket in the world, was launched at Zonderwater Correctional Centre near Cullinan last week. Participating inmates at eighty prisons around SA will help knit a 4,500 square meter blanket resulting from a unique partnership between ‘67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day’, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). With every black or grey blanket representing just one pixel, the ambitious project driven by 67 Blankets founder Carolyn Steyn will ensure Madiba’s face is visible from outer space. 

Law Focus: Parole Protests

Law Focus, a show on the Wits University radio station, VowFM, together with the Wits Justice Project produced a radio show on the ongoing parole protests happening in South African prisons. 

For various reasons, the release of a prisoner is a contentious issue in any society. This week Law Focus brings the spotlight onto parole law. Parole is the conditional release of prisoners before they complete their sentence. Paroled prisoners are supervised by a public official, usually called a parole officer. If paroled prisoners violate the conditions of their release, they may be returned to prison. Prisoners serving life and long term sentences at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison went to protest early this month with the outcry that their parole is mishandled.

To shed light on these matters, this week’s show opens with Spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services Singabakho Nxumalo. We are also joined by Frank Mbedzi who is the Chairperson of the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights, and later on behalf of Lawyers for Human Rights’ Clare Ballard who heads the penal reform programme.

Listen to it here

FACTSHEET: The state of South Africa’s prisons

South Africa’s most famous ex-prisoner wrote in his autobiography that “no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails”. In this factsheet, we provide data to show what’s going on inside South African prisons.

Report reveals concerning statistics on implementation of the Protection of Information Act (PAIA )

An annual report by the Access to Information Network (ATI Network) revealed that nearly half (46%) of access to information requests submitted by ATI Network members were either actively denied or denied as a result of requests being ignored. The ATI Network is comprised of civil society organisations, including: Right2Know, amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and the Wits Justice Project.