'I was frightened' - Raphael Rowe describes being locked up at Brandvlei Prison
Season 5 of the popular documentary series Inside The World’s Toughest Prisons is out now on Nextflix.
It features a hard look inside Brandvlei Correctional Centre in the Western Cape, home to the notorious Number gangs.
Journo Raphael Rowe spends a tough week in a cell with eight convicted murderers in the new season of the show.
Rowe says he was genuinely frightened when he entered the prison cell with members of numbers gangs who later stole his shoes from him.
Inmates intimidated Rowe during his stay and took him through an initiation process of sorts. It took a few days to gain their trust, but eventually, some prisoners also shared insights about the prison culture at Brandvlei.
I wasn't there to sensationalise the Numbers, I wasn't there to degrade these individuals. I was there to explore what it's like as an individual and then to branch out into what the Numbers mean. Why can't they break free of this cycle of destruction, etc?Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
There is nothing staged, nothing scripted. When I walked into that cell with those guys, they had not met me before. They knew nothing about me and I knew nothing about them.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
When I walked into the cell and you saw the fear on my face, that was genuine.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
They have their own language and their own way of indoctrinating a prisoner into their cell, which is probably why so many prisoners end up being part of a Number gang... because unless they have the money they would have to be part of a number gang.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
I'm pleased to say that a few days later I did get my takkies back because I did win them over with my questioning and talking with the guys.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
I didn't expect it to be as overt as it was when I walked into that prison and into the maximum security section that I went to where everybody there had a number 26, 27 and 28 stamped on their body... I was genuinely shocked, and that's not even getting to the point where they intimidated me when I went through initiation process.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
The number gangs have a notorious international reputation and so I was both fearful and excited to go and explore what this was about... to think that it still reverberates around prisoners and individuals in prisons is astonishing.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
It wasn't my first trip to South African but it was definitely trip to a prison in South Africa.Raphael Rowe, Investigative reporter and TV host
Listen to the discussion on Weekend Breakfast with Sara-Jayne King:
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