Where the playpen bars are cold steel
SAMANTHA JACOBS cuddles her 13-month-old son, holding him close. He looks content, with a big smile for everyone. It’s hard to imagine his only world has been behind bars.
Jacobs, 32, from Manenberg was five months pregnant when she was arrested for shoplifting for the second time and sentenced to three years in prison. She gave birth at Groote Schuur Hospital and three days later, mother and son returned to prison.
“At first I had a lot of support from my family but after the second sentence they stopped coming. I don’t blame them.” Jacobs has two other children, a boy, 12, and a daughter, 10, who are cared for by her father and niece.
The mothers in Pollsmoor all have posters on their cell doors with photographs of their babies decorated with their tiny footprints in paint.
The walls are painted with cartoon characters and there are stuffed toys in the cells. There is a playroom with educational toys and books, as well as scooters and tricycles for the toddlers.
Jacobs says they are supplied with formula, nappies, clothes and shoes. She says the lack of support is the hardest part of being behind bars.
“It’s not nice to be here with a child. You really need your family.”
Cindy Khumalo, 24, gave birth to a baby boy three months ago.
Originally from Joburg, she moved to Cape Town for a boyfriend who made promises that never materialised, so she stole his jewellery and landed up in Pollsmoor.
Khumalo hopes for a transfer to Sun City, a womens’ prison in Gauteng.
“It’s tough here with no family or friends – just my baby who is with me 24 hours. It’s stressful when he’s crying.”
She says if she gets her transfer she will ask her mother, in Joburg, to look after her young son.