Restorative Justice NGO

Stopping for the one

September 26, 2017 Uncategorized 0

An anxious and nervous man dressed in the regulation prison orange, tentatively entered the room as we were setting up for the days activities. 

He was clearly distressed his face and body language expressing anguish in every movement.  

We calmly asked his name, said he was welcome in the room and to join in with the programme.  He sat down and participated in the events of the morning.  As he did so I realised he was not as old as first impressions had suggested. As his face and body relaxed I saw a younger man who had looked so much older than his years through anxiety and stress.

His story was a sad one.  A fisherman coming to Cape Town, looking for work.   He had left his 2 young children behind with his aging and frail mother.  His wife had died of cancer a few months before.  When he went to the authority that issues ID documents his fingerprints revealed that 6 years previously he had been found in possession of dagga.  The magistrate gave him a R200 fine or 2 weeks in prison.

R200 (about 14GBP) was more than he had so it was off to prison – costing the state about R5000.

His anxiety was for his 2 children.  Who could care for them he had intended to be away a few days now the 2 weeks stretched out as if into infinity.  

He had no way of knowing that we have a small fund to help in these circumstances.  RESTORE offered to settle his fine so he could be free to return to his children that afternoon. 

We asked him why he had come into the room that morning and his story is amazing.  In his prison cell earlier, he had been on his knees appealing to God for forgiveness and mercy and for a way out of the situation he had found himself in.  When he walked past our room he saw a bright light coming from inside and wanted to find out what had caused that light, so he came in to find out.

We then had the privilege of meeting him and the honour of being a means of blessing.

Our lives will probably never intersect again. It was a single moment and just a morning of connection but how grateful we are to have participated, in a small way in the healing of wounds inflicted by a harsh legal system that is biased against the poor and needy.

by Lindsey Pettit-Lee

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