prison Image via Pexels
prison Image via Pexels
During my time in prison, I noticed that the exercise of power plays a significant role in controlling the facility, even within the culture of gangsterism.
There is always one individual who commands fear and authority, as in gang culture, where there are hierarchical ranks such as Sergeants and even Generals, similar to those found in the military. This hierarchy is the mechanism that governs gang culture in the prison. The more crimes you commit, the higher your accolades and rank within the gang. The General holds the ultimate authority, and everyone submits to their command without question. They have the power to take anything they desire from others.
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I witnessed a disturbing incident where someone was stabbed simply because the leader of the 28 gang had ordered it. This act of violence occurred because the leader wielded the power to do so. There are also gang members known for their extreme aggression, often referred to as Gabbadin. They are fearless fighters, quick to engage in violence. Incidents where prison officers are stabbed by inmates can often be attributed to these types of gang members.
While prison food is generally unappetizing, there are occasions when certain gang members receive special treatment, including better food, due to their power and the fear they instill in others. This situation has unfortunately led to corruption and illegitimate activities within the prison system. Prison officers sometimes misuse their authority by engaging in corrupt practices, such as smuggling phones and drugs to select inmates, particularly those with wealthy families.
Furthermore, there is a form of segregation within the prison system. When requesting medical attention, some inmates receive preferential treatment, often due to their status as well-known gangsters or their financial resources.
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DISCLAIMER: Submission published as received
RESTORE is an NGO based in Cape Town, South Africa, providing inmates at Pollsmoor Prison with restorative justice opportunities.
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