“Come out! Prisoner!” the warden says, hitting the steel gates to my cell, and I stand up in my orange uniform. “You’re going home today!” he shouts, unlocking the steel gates, and I walk out with my hands on my back.

“Body search!” the warden shouts, and a female warden comes, presses me to the wall, and searches me. But she touches me in ways that I don’t feel comfortable.

“Clear!” the female warden yells. The male warden then walks me through the passage, and while we are walking, the other female prisoners are singing, “Inkululeko!”, but the warden quietens them down.

While we are walking, some of the other prisoners grab my hands. “Haa, Boss S! You’re leaving! Don’t worry, I’ll look after your Meddie,” they shout.

“Hey, prisoner! Focus, unless you want to spend another four years in jail!” the warden yells, pointing at me with his index finger, and instead of responding to his threat, I put my hands behind my back and quietly follow him while ignoring the yells and shouts from my fellow jailbirds.

After a while, we reach the station commander’s office, and she is seated in her chair. She is a very beautiful mixed race woman, with long, brown hair and a glowing, smooth skin. She looks like she is in her early forties, and she has no ring on her finger. She is probably loaded too, but I shake the thought out of my head.

“Focus, focus. You’ve left that life behind,” I say to myself.

“Silindile Mangethe,” the station commander says. “Sit,” she instructs, motioning for me to sit down. “After four years in prison, you are out on parole. My officers will be paying visits to you every first week of the month, so if you move, register with us,” she says, tapping her pen on the desk.

I nod in response, then the station commander grabs a transparent plastic bag and throws it on the table. “Your stuff,” she says.

Inside the plastic are my clothes, which include my sweet pink suit and black shoes, my wedding band and watch, and my car keys.

“You’re free, but remember, you can be back in here. It only takes one mistake,” the station commander says, warning me as I walk out of her office. I smile in response and give her a nod.

***

Tell us: What do you think should be done to help ex-prisoners reintegrate back into society?