Denial of media to political prisoners under apartheid (6 March 201^)

No matter how weak our media may be they can count on me as a reader. I spent many, many years without newspapers other than those we managed to smuggle as political prisoners. The white male prisoners were separated in Pretoria and our capacity to smuggle was less than that on the Island. We brought a court action for access to newspapers which went up to the then Appellate Division with Kentridge appearing for us. Curlewis, who had sentenced many MK people to death or heavy sentences in spite of torture, heard our case at provincial level and said prison was not ‘a hotel without a right of egress’. We also lost on appeal but eventually got news legally albeit in dribs and drabs, first censored news bulletins with all but the gold price omitted but in the end all the newspapers. When I was re-arrested in the States of Emergency there was again denial of newspapers but smuggling was pretty good, because I was near to criminal gangsters who were happy to exchange things. Interestingly, there were some right wing white warders who would also secretly put newspapers in my cell. The dynamics when held in a criminal prison were very strange and there was no animosity from warders (who out of respect for my having been a prisoner before and also fear for capacity for drama by virtue of being more respectable than the rest, treated me with some awe), as opposed to security police.

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