Monday, March 14, 2011

Lifetime pardon prize in Prison Competition

Dear South Africa's Minister of Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqukula,
          How ridiculous can you and your fellow African National Congress governors get? At a time when we need a lot more jails because the ones we’ve got are bursting at the seams you are wasting taxpayer’s money on renaming 11 prisons.
          You are so out of touch with reality that you believe that the process won’t cost a cent. Was that half page colour advertisement that I saw in the Sunday Times free? At a guess that’s a 100 grand and how many others were there, in papers like that Government supporting rag, the New Age?
          And I suppose it didn’t cost anything to process all the written submissions and to collate the views given at the 10 public hearings that you held all over the country?
          The Sunday Times ad I saw seemed to be an excuse to put your picture in the paper more than anything else. You claimed that the name changes were to foster greater social cohesion among South Africans by acknowledging defining moments, people and places in the country’s historical struggle for freedom and democracy.
          Let’s face it there are already enough jail breaks without encouraging struggles for freedom.
          You went on to say, Members of the public are urged to attend  the public hearings in numbers and to be part of the dialogue aimed at reshaping of our country’s cultural and historical landscape.
          How did you come up with this utter poppycock?
          Who wants to have a prison named after them? And since when have prisons become part of our cultural heritage?
          Anyway as you and your entire Department haven’t got the imagination to think up new names on your own I thought I would give you a hand. Your Party has a well established culture of having its prominent members incarcerated so you couldn’t do better than name jails after them.
          One of the best known is Shabir Shaik, although you might not agree that he qualifies because he has shown a marked reluctance to make use of the marvelous accommodation our prisons provide. He got a 15 year sentence for his corrupt relationship with our President when Jacob Zuma was still the Deputy Head.
          After a mere two years Shaik was paroled on the grounds that he was terminally ill. But that didn’t stop him from playing golf and generally living the good life.       
          Then there was Pastor Alan Boesak who doubled as your party’s Western Cape Chairman. That Commandment, Thou shalt not help yourself to funds meant for charity slipped his mind with the result that he was jailed and released after serving only a year of a three year sentence.
          He subsequently received a Presidential pardon which expunged his criminal record so he wouldn’t have a problem entering the Pearly Gates.
          I nearly forgot about Tony Yengeni that well know dandy and man about town who used to be your Party’s Chief Whip in Parliament. He definitely deserves to have a prison named after him.
          Our Tony was convicted of fraud after receiving a luxury car as one of the perks of being a member of a Parliamentary Committee that dealt with the tender for the controversial arms deal.
          His four year sentence followed the usual pattern for the stalwarts of your party. He was paroled after just five months as a guest of Pollsmoor Prison.
          Another big name you really should consider is Jackie Selebi, our former National Police Commissioner and one time President of Interpol. He is currently out on bail pending an appeal against his 15 year jail term for corruption.
          I can’t under why he’s wasting money trying to stay out of jail when our parole system for those in the know is so unbelievably user friendly. But perhaps the lags in our jails don’t take too kindly to having ex-cops in their midst.
          My last suggestion is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. This former wife of Nelson Mandela dubbed the Mother of the Nation hasn’t actually sampled your jail hospitality in recent times but she has had enough close shaves to warrant her name being submitted for consideration.
          In 1991 she was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault after the death of a 14 year old boy. Her six year jail term was reduced to a fine on appeal.
          She had just as much luck a few years later with our ANC friendly legal system after she pleaded guilty to a total of 68 counts of fraud and theft from a funeral fund. A five year prison sentence was reduced to a suspended sentence.  
       It didn’t say so in your advertisement but my contact tells me that the prize for the best name is a pardon for life, but only if the winner is a card carrying member of the ANC. The people who submit the other names that are accepted will be given life membership of your party which effectively guarantees them early parole whatever they do.
          Just a word of warning. Whatever you do don’t even think of demeaning our most famous prisoner by adding his name to your motley collection of jails.
           I know Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars but that was under the White apartheid Government when parole was not nearly as fashionable as it is now.  His crime was nothing to do with dishonesty. He spoke out against a system that oppressed the black majority.
       So it would be quite wrong to put him in the same category as the other names I have suggested.
          I hope my proposals have helped and you can now get on with putting up the new names at those 11 slammers that you feel must be re-christen in the interests of nation building.
          Yours sincerely,
          Jon, Self taught Doctorate in Prison Renaming & Cell Phone expert. 

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone?' on Amazon Kindle  It's a thriller with an underlying love story. 

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