Note to Readers:

Please Note: The editor of White Refugee blog is a member of the Ecology of Peace culture.

Summary of Ecology of Peace Problem Solving: The problems of poverty, unemployment, war, crime, violence, food shortages, food price increases, inflation, police brutality, political instability, loss of civil rights, vanishing species, garbage and pollution, urban sprawl, traffic jams, toxic waste, racism, sexism, Nazism, Islamism, feminism, Zionism etc; are the ecological overshoot consequences of humans living in accordance to a Masonic War is Peace international law social contract that provides humans the ‘right to breed and consume’ with total disregard for ecological carrying capacity limits.

Ecology of Peace factual reality: 1. Earth is not flat; 2. Resources are finite; 3. When humans breed or consume above ecological carrying capacity limits, it results in resource conflict; 4. If individuals, families, tribes, races, religions, and/or nations want to reduce class, racial and/or religious local, national and international resource war conflict; they should cooperate to implement an Ecology of Peace international law social contract that restricts all the worlds citizens to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits; to sustainably protect and conserve natural resources.

EoP v WiP NWO negotiations are documented at MILED Clerk Notice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nongoloza's Children: Western Cape prison gangs during and after apartheid: Introduction




Nongoloza's Children is Johnny Steinberg's monograph on the Number Gangs: the 26's, 27's and 28's; their origins, history, structure, practices and evolution and relationships to Street Gangs.

Most 'Poverty is the source of criminality' (Poverty Pimps) addicts, think that township kids join gangs, because they are forced to. For some this may be the case, but for many it is not; it is what they aspire to. Poverty Pimp Addicts also think that many go to prison, because their poverty allows them no choices, but to commit crimes; when in fact, for many individuals who have already made a conscious choice to become a 'big time gangster', where a big time wannabe neurosurgeon registers at UCT to acquire his Ph.D. in neurosurgery; a wannabe big time gangster registers, for the University of Crime, by committing his 'registration criminal act', to gain entry to a prison, where he will acquire his degree, or Ph.D. in violence; his 'street cred'. As far as South African University's of Crime go, Pollsmoor is in the creme de la creme of Universities of Violent Crime.

Nongoloza's Children is long, so I have seperated it into 6 posts:

Over the past two decades, news of the strange world behind the bars of South Africa's prisons has been spilling out in dribs and drabs. Among the things we have learned is that the so-called "Number gangs"—the 26s, 27s and 28s—are about 100 years old, that they originated in the jails, mine compounds and informal settlements of turn-of-the-century Johannesburg, and that today they constitute a formidable force in every prison across the country.

We know, too, that the world of the Number gangs is one of staggering brutality. Its self-styled judiciaries sentence inmates to death, to gang rape, to beatings with prison mugs, padlocks and bars of soap; among the prerequisites of joining the "soldier lines" of the gangs is the taking of a warder's or a non-gangster's blood; leaving a prison gang, sharing a gang's secrets with a warder, or talking casually about the gang's workings to the non-initiated are all punishable crimes.

Finally, we know that sexual relations between prison gangsters and their lovers are highly stylised, caricaturing the most pungently misogynist relationship imaginable between a man and a woman. The passive partner in an archetypal prison relationship is stripped of the jail equivalent of his juridical personhood: he is not allowed to conduct commerce or to leave the cell without his partner's permission; he cooks for his partner, makes his bed, washes his back and cuts his toenails.


Boycott 2010 World Cup: Truth & Justice; or Secession?

Nongoloza's Children: Western Cape prison gangs during and after apartheid

by Johnny Steinberg

Introduction
Chapter 1: Nongoloza and Kilikijan
Chapter 2: The functions of violence I—Making men (and not children)
Chapter 3: The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)
Chapter 4: Prison on the streets, the streets in prison
Chapter 5: Warders and gangs


Introduction

Monograph written for the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, July 2004.

Over the past two decades, news of the strange world behind the bars of South Africa's prisons has been spilling out in dribs and drabs. Among the things we have learned is that the so-called "Number gangs"—the 26s, 27s and 28s—are about 100 years old, that they originated in the jails, mine compounds and informal settlements of turn-of-the-century Johannesburg, and that today they constitute a formidable force in every prison across the country.

We know that the Number gangs take their inspiration from the real historical figure who founded them, Nongoloza Mathebula, an early Johannesburg bandit who built a quasi-military band of outlaws, welding his small army together with a simple but potent ideology of banditry-as-anti-colonial-resistance. We know, too, that the Number gangs have been the vehicle of an extraordinarily durable oral tradition; the imaginary uniforms, weapons and paraphernalia that Number gangsters carry today are all faithful representations of the uniforms, weapons and paraphernalia of the Boer and British armies of the late 19th-century Transvaal. The arcane and finely observed military and judicial hierarchies of the 28s and the 27s are precisely those invented by Nongoloza and described in the life testimony he dictated to a prison warder in 1912.1

We know, too, that the world of the Number gangs is one of staggering brutality. Its self-styled judiciaries sentence inmates to death, to gang rape, to beatings with prison mugs, padlocks and bars of soap; among the prerequisites of joining the "soldier lines" of the gangs is the taking of a warder's or a non-gangster's blood; leaving a prison gang, sharing a gang's secrets with a warder, or talking casually about the gang's workings to the non-initiated are all punishable crimes.

Finally, we know that sexual relations between prison gangsters and their lovers are highly stylised, caricaturing the most pungently misogynist relationship imaginable between a man and a woman. The passive partner in an archetypal prison relationship is stripped of the jail equivalent of his juridical personhood: he is not allowed to conduct commerce or to leave the cell without his partner's permission; he cooks for his partner, makes his bed, washes his back and cuts his toenails.2

Yet, despite the growing body of information available to us, our knowledge of South African prison gangs remains inadequate. What we have are slivers of narrative, ritual and myth, disconnected from the context that gives them meaning. What we do not have is an analysis of the relationship between prison gangs and the institution that animates them in the first place: the prison itself.

This lacuna has been unavoidable. Until the early 1990s, South African prisons were entirely closed institutions. Reportage on the conditions in jails was effectively illegal until the mid-1980s. Until 1990, the courts kept prison administration at arm's length, giving the Commissioner of Prisons almost unlimited power, including the power to regulate information.3 And the gangs themselves were, of course, sworn to a vow of silence.

Two research projects conducted in the 1980s did, however, make concerted and valuable attempts to understand prisons gangs in their institutional context. Fink Haysom's thesis—that the gangs' quasi-military structure is an extreme parody of the apartheid prison system itself—is, as we shall see, a powerful and lasting insight.4 Lötter and Schurink's thesis—that gangs militate against the psychological and material pains of imprisonment—is also of lasting value.5 However, given the closed conditions of the 1980s, these studies, which should have become a foundation for further research, were left standing as two islands in a sea of incomprehension.

It is only in recent years, with the opening of the jails to researchers and observers, and the intrusion of the rule of law in the running of prisons, that it has become possible to study the substance of prison life with any seriousness. And it is only in understanding the substance of prison life that the strange narratives and rituals of South Africa's prison gangs can possibly make sense.


Aims of the monograph

This monograph is by no means a comprehensive history of prison gangs in the Western Cape. Rather, it is potted and thematic, its conclusions interpretive and discursive. It is hoped that other researchers might use its ideas as a basis for further work. The aim of what follows is to provide a modest addition to our understanding of prison gangs in the following areas:

The oral history around which the Number gangs are organised has not, to my knowledge, been told accessibly and comprehensively. I wish to do this, not only because the narrative is of great historical and political interest in itself, but also because it is, in its own metaphorical and stylised way, a crisp and insightful commentary on the conditions of imprisonment in the Western Cape. In other words, the mythical history of Nongoloza reveals a great deal about the crises, anxieties and aspirations of the men who invented and transmitted it. Interpreted appropriately, it cuts to the chase of the existential traumas of prison life.

I attempt to develop a provisional thesis about the function of the culture of extreme violence that characterises Western Cape prison gangs. The culture of violence is, ironically, a failed attempt to restore the order of things that has been toppled by the perversity of prison life, to erase some of the intolerable ambiguities (between the men and women, adults and children) that confront men behind bars.

Despite the extraordinary continuity of myth, structure and meaning that has characterised prison gangs throughout the 20th century, the gangs are malleable: they are keenly responsive to changing historical forces in society at large and to the changing conditions of prison life itself. I show this by demonstrating the far-reaching mutations the gangs have undergone since the late apartheid era.

If prison gangs are responsive to historical change, it follows that they are also responsive to the changing policies and practices of the Department of Correctional Services. In the final section of this monograph, I have a stab at accounting for why the post-apartheid administration has been unable to contain prison gangsterism, and how this administration might proceed in the future.


A word on method

This monograph rests on two legs of research. First, I conducted nine months of fieldwork at Pollsmoor Prison's Admission Centre between the beginning of October 2002 and the end of June 2003. During that time, the prison held more than 3 000 inmates, slightly more than two-thirds of whom were awaiting trial. I spent half of each day shadowing a senior warder as he did his work. I spent the other half interviewing inmates, usually informally, sometimes with a set of written questions and a tape recorder. I was not allowed into the prison during lockup—4pm to 7am—the period of each day when the presence of warders contracts to a skeletal staff and the Number gangs take effective control of life behind the locked cell doors.

Second, over an 18-month period I conducted intensive interviews with about 30 veteran Number members. All had served time in prisons across the Western Cape during the 1980s and 1990s. The oldest among them provided detailed testimony of prison life in the late 1970s.

As is immediately apparent, my access to prison life in the past and prison life in the present came in two very different forms. In regard to the past, I was relying mainly on other people's memories. (The gangs obviously keep no written record of their histories, and the records of prison authorities, judicial commissions and court trials are far too partial, fragmentary and inaccurate to stand in as documented history.) Memory is a poor witness to the past in the best of circumstances, and these were hardly the best of circumstances. As you will see later, there is a deep and angry divide between veteran Western Cape prison gangsters and those who cut their teeth in the 1990s and 2000s. Veterans speak endlessly of how the transition from apartheid has corrupted the vital traditions of the Number, of how the gangs today are disfigured wreckages of their former selves. Veterans invariably tell idealised stories about the past. They do so, not simply to deride what the current generation has done to the Number, but also because imprisonment is a humiliating, often harrowing, experience, and constructing one's life narrative before a witness/researcher inevitably involves restoring dignity. The interviewee mutes the acts of violence he has committed and often omits the violence committed against him. The world of the 1970s and 1980s that emerges from the mouths of veterans is invariably sanitised.

I thus found myself embroiled in an endless adventure of corroboration: tracking down franse (non-gangsters) who had witnessed events related to me by gangsters; contrasting a 28's version of a particular event with that of a 26. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not; inevitably, some of the idealisations of my interviewees have found their way into this monograph.

My access to prison life in the present was also not ideal. The politics of any prison is shaped by a daily cycle. Between 7am and 4pm, inmates are free to walk around their sections, to wash clothes, to mingle, occasionally to exercise in the yard. They do so under the gaze of warders, a gaze that surely shapes their behaviour. This was the time segment to which I had access.

For the rest of the time—15 hours of every day—between 40 and 60 men are locked in a cell designed to house 18. As I argue later, it is the deprivations suffered in this situation that account or much of the logic of prison gang narrative and prison violence. My sense of what happens during this 15-hour segment of every day relied on the testimony of inmates, on my own imagination, and on inductions based on what happened during open time.

Finally, while my research into the past elicited testimony from literally every prison in the Western Cape, my research into the present was restricted to Pollsmoor Admission Centre. Pollsmoor is the railway station of Western Cape prisons. It is situated within a stone's throw of Cape Town's ghettos; most awaiting-trial prisoners in the greater Cape Town area are processed there. There is a great deal of flux, of movement, of exchanges between the streets and the prison. The jails of the Western Cape hinterland are quieter, more stable.

» » » » [CSVR (PDF)]

Nongoloza's Children: W. Cape Prison Gangs: Introduction
» » 1: Nongoloza and Kilikijan
» » 2: The functions of violence I—Making men (and not children)
» » 3: The functions of violence II—Making men (and not women)
» » 4: Prison on the streets, the streets in prison
» » 5: Warders and gangs


No comments:

FLEUR-DE-LIS HUMINT :: F(x) Population Growth x F(x) Declining Resources = F(x) Resource Wars

KaffirLilyRiddle: F(x)population x F(x)consumption = END:CIV
Human Farming: Story of Your Enslavement (13:10)
Unified Quest is the Army Chief of Staff's future study plan designed to examine issues critical to current and future force development... - as the world population grows, increased global competition for affordable finite resources, notably energy and rare earth materials, could fuel regional conflict. - water is the new oil. scarcity will confront regions at an accelerated pace in this decade.
US Army: Population vs. Resource Scarcity Study Plan
Human Farming Management: Fake Left v. Right (02:09)
ARMY STRATEGY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Office of Dep. Asst. of the Army Environment, Safety and Occupational Health: Richard Murphy, Asst for Sustainability, 24 October 2006
2006: US Army Strategy for Environment
CIA & Pentagon: Overpopulation & Resource Wars [01] [02]
Peak NNR: Scarcity: Humanity’s Last Chapter: A Comprehensive Analysis of Nonrenewable Natural Resource (NNR) Scarcity’s Consequences, by Chris Clugston
Peak Non-Renewable Resources = END:CIV Scarcity Future
Race 2 Save Planet :: END:CIV Resist of Die (01:42) [Full]
FAIR USE NOTICE: The White Refugee blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to provide information for research and educational purposes, and advance understanding for the Canadian Immigration & Refugee Board's (IRB) ‘White Refugee’ ruling. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Copyright owners who object to the fair use of their copyright news reports, may submit their objections to White Refugee Blog at: [jmc.pa.tf(at)gmail(dot)com]