The next day, we visited Robert*. After his conviction in April, he was moved to the sentenced section of the prison. Hopes of a shorter waiting period at this part of Pollsmoor are dashed when a steady queue builds up at dawn, as the first sun rays pierce through the grey clouds above Cape Town. Six hours later, Robert appears on the other side of a chipped and grimy cubicle.
Robert’s parents live in a run-down house in Mitchell’s Plain. “I get up at 4am to catch a taxi to Pollsmoor, I get there at 6am and then have to wait another six hours,” says his father, who wants to remain anonymous to protect his son’s identity. “We haven’t seen him in three months because we can’t afford the R80 taxi fare. I live on a disability grant.”
His son struggles to get by in Pollsmoor. “There were not enough guards to take me to the doctor,” Robert says in reference to the remand section of the prison. “I hear voices in my head and if I don’t get my tablets, the voices get louder and they keep me up at night.”