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[LISTEN] Special moment as political detainees from 1980s reconnect via Facebook

18 June 2019 9:03 AM
Tags:
ANC
Youth Day
16 June
political prisoners
1980s

State of Emergency detainee Lee Mostert was able to smuggle a letter from her cell to awaiting trial prisoner Chris Giffard.

Political detainee Lee Mostert and awaiting trial political prisoner Chris Giffard talk about a letter that passed between them while in Pollsmoor Prison in the late 1980s.

Listen to the moving and inspirational interview below:

In the late 1980s, Chris Giffard was awaiting trial in Pollsmoor prison after being arrested along with 13 others for being members of the then banned African National Congress (ANC).

On 8 February 1989, Giffard and 13 other accused of all races made their first appearance in the Supreme Court in what became known as the Yengeni trial.

Despite requests to prison authorities the accused were kept racially segregated, with Giffard, the only white male in the group, held in the juvenile section of Pollsmoor Prison.

On June 16 this year, Giffard, now in his 50s, recalls how three young female activists detained under the State of Emergency during the 1980s, being held in the women's prison, were able to sneak letters to him with the helo of the young juvenile prisoners.

In his moving Facebook post, he describes the young women's bravery saying "They were so young and fearless. I've never met them, before or since."

Giffard has kept the letters all these years and shortly after posting the story, his Facebook friends were able to connect him with the women.

It was so inspiring to have letters like that. The fierceness and the courage of these school girls who were in the adjacent prison and were activists imprisoned by the apartheid authorities.

Chris Giffard, Political awaiting trial prisoner 1980s

Giffard says these young women heard from the white juvenile prisoners in his section that he was there and the three decided to write and smuggle him a letter.

There was something so special about these youth, these brave young women.

Chris Giffard, Political awaiting trial prisoner 1980s

They have never met face-to-face.

We are certainly planning to get together as soon as we can. I am looking forward to hearing their story and spending time with them.

Chris Giffard, Political awaiting trial prisoner 1980s

Now 30 years later, the young girls are grown up and Lee Mostert chats to Lester.

Somebody alerted me and said I think that's you, and reading the Facebook post I was a non-believer until I saw my name and my prison number. And of course when I saw my handwriting, then the floodgates opened and I just started to cry. There was no other response to it.

Lee Mostert, teenage political detainee during the 1980s

The first two weeks they keep you in solitary confinement and you see no one unless you are being interrogated by the security branch.

Lee Mostert, teenage political detainee during the 1980s

Then by law detainees had to be taken to communal prison and she was delighted to see her sister and friend.

Being there was our destiny.

Lee Mostert, teenage political detainee during the 1980s

We started speaking to the juveniles that were adjacent to us...they said there is a guy here. They gave us regular updates.

Lee Mostert, teenage political detainee during the 1980s

18 June 2019 9:03 AM
Tags:
ANC
Youth Day
16 June
political prisoners
1980s

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