“What was your thought when you got to prison?” Andile ask me.
“What is next?” I say.
“What was next then? He asks me.
“It was hell on earth, God was punishing me for my sins. Every night I cried of the pain I felt inside. The first day I got there, three men confronted us and were posing prison codes with their fingers. We had to choose which one of the groups we wanted to join. All three of them joined one group, but I did not choose any of the groups. The reason why I did not join any of the groups is because of the guys I saw who were in certain groups. Those guys did not act civilized to the people around them. They think they know it all and do not need to be taught anything. Vuyo tried teaching me some prison codes, but I did not see anything it was going to help in my future, so I ignored it. Inside the prison I was treated like a nobody from anyone who possessed a prison code. I would be forced to wash their clothes and underwear. I would have to give up my plate sometimes, and I would be told to clean the toilets. The worst thing of all that happened to me was that every night a guy would come to me and force himself on me. Some of the guys I managed to stop, some I could not stop. When I reported this I would be told I was in prison, and bad things happen to those who are in prison. It was true and if anybody did try to help me against any particular guy, he would be badly beaten when he goes to sleep. The fact that these guys came to rape was that I was only fifteen. Through it all I told myself one thing, that I was going to be strong” I say.
“Have you ever been in prison, Andile?” I ask.
“I have only spent a week in a police station” he says.
“What prison code do you represent?” I ask.
“I represent the twenty six prison code” he says.
“So you are a money lover I see. Where did you get this code from?” I ask.
“From my brother, who got it from his friend” he says.
“What kind of jobs do you do?” I ask.
“I do not work” he says.
“I mean what crimes do you do to get money?” I ask.
“Oh, no. I do not do crime. I use them to get money for me,” he says. I can see it in his eyes he does not have the courage to be a twenty six. All he is doing is bragging of the fact that he possesses the twenty six code. I wonder if he knows that because of him, he has messed up the future of those boys he uses to get what he wants.
“How do you think they get that money?” I ask.
“I do not know” he says.
“How would you feel if your only child stole something from you?” I ask.
“I guess I would have to punish him,” he says.
“Let’s say one of the guys is so desperate for you to teach him some prison code that he ends up stealing from his home. Because he is the only child at his house, his parents notice that some of the things are missing. They both know it’s not them and it could only be him. What do you think is going to happen to him?” I ask.
“I do not know.” he says.
“Well sleep on that question tonight.” I say.
“Okay, what happened after that experience in prison?” he asked.
“Well seven months went by, and I received a letter from a man claiming to be my father. During that time I was filled with anger inside of me, and what made me even angrier was that letter I received. I mean, why did he not come in person and see what happens to a child who grows up without a father figure? The letter said…
Greetings my son. My name is Mthetheleli Mtwengana, and I am forty-two years old. I live in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.
I am sorry I have not been there for you the past fifteen years. I met your mother at a party and I introduced myself to her, then one thing led to another. We had a one night stand, and we never saw each other again. I heard of her death, but not the cause of it. Your aunt eventually tracked me down and told me of your whereabouts.
Son, I do not blame you for where you are now. I just wish I could make it up to you for the past fifteen years.
I did not believe him and did not care about him, so I threw the letter away.” I say.