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57 days in the life of Fanie Kuduka

Like so many children these days, Fanie Kuduka of Alexandra Township has tasted jail already. He was inside for 57 days last year—and he is only 11 years old.”We tried twice to get Fanie out of jail,” says his mother Beauty Kuduka. “But each time the magis­trate did not give bail. He said Fanie would run away to Botswana. Can you believe it? My son is still a child. He can’t even travel to Tembisa on his own.”

After 57 days and after trying for the third time, Mrs Kuduka got her son out on bail. In January this year, little Fanie went to court. He was charged with public violence. He was found not guilty.


” I live with my mother, two brothers and two sisters. I am the eldest. I was born on the 15th January in 1974 at the Lombardy Hospital.

I go to Ikage Lower Primary in 12th Avenue. My favourite subjects are English and arithmetic. I like my teacher because she does not punish us too much. Her name is Miss Ncube.

One day in June, at about two o’clock, Miss Ncube told us to hurry home. She said the rain was coming. When I reached 13th Street, the rain came down very hard. I ran into an old shed. I thought I would wait there for a while.

Then I saw a soldier. He walked straight towards me.


I wanted to run but I remembered what a friend once told me. He said the police shoot you when you run away. I stood still. I breathed slowly. I didn’t want the soldier to hear me. But then he saw me.

“Kom, kom,” he said to me. I asked him what he wanted. He said I threw stones and burnt some buses and a white man’s Mercedes Benz. I told him I did not do any of these things. But he did not believe me. He made me go with him to a Hippo.

They took me to the Wynberg Police Station. The police wanted me to say that I was throwing stones in the township. I told them I did nothing. They said that they would hit me until I told the truth.


They started to hit me with pipes and with fists. They kicked me with theirbig boots. There were both white and black policemen and they kicked me all over. They only stopped when my tooth came out. I was bleeding a lot and it was very sore. They said I must make a state­ment. I was afraid. I wrote down what they wanted me to write.

Then they took me home. My mother was very worried because I did not come back from school and it was already 8 o’clock at night. I was only wearing my uniform and I was very cold.I hoped that they would leave me but

hey took my mother with us back to the police station. They showed her the statement. I told her I did not do those things but they told me to keep quiet. My mother began to cry.

Then they sent my mother home. My jaw was very sore and my lips were swollen. I couldn’t eat. They locked me up in a small cell.I was scared and it was hard to fall asleep.


The next day they took me in a car. They told me to point out the boys who I threw stones with. I told them I did not know anything. They slapped my face and told me to do what they wanted. Then I saw one boy who likes coming to our school and shouting “Siyayinyova” (we must destroy). He also tells us to leave our classrooms. I pointed him out to the police but they said that they could not arrest him. They said that he was their friend. I told them I didn’t know anybody else.

Later my mother came and they took me to the magistrate’s office in Randburg. They wanted me to sign again.

I said to them: “If I tell you the truth, will you let me go home with my mother?”They said yes. So I told them the truth. I said I did not do it. But the police just told me to sign my name. So I signed my name — there was nothing I could do.

I did not go home with my mother. They sent me to John Vorster Square instead.


At John Vorster I was locked up with 12 grown-up men. I think most of them were car thieves.

The floor was just cement and there was one toilet for all of us. At first I was shy to use the toilet in front of so many other people. But then I saw that no­body cared.

When I got there they told me to take off my school uniform. They gave me a prison uniform. Those uniforms were not made for small people like me. When they took me to the cell, everybody laughed at me and my big uniform.

When we washed our clothes, we washed them in the toilet bowl water and then we hung them on the water pipes. We sat naked in the blanket and waited for our clothes to dry.

Everyday they woke us at four in the morning and gave us tea. After tea we cleaned the cells and the passages. When the cleaning was finished, the “jolling” started.

There were some mad fellows in the cells.They made us do bad things. They told us to roll up our blankets — and push them around like we were driving a car. Then they asked you to show them your driving licence. When you said you did not have one, they kicked you and did all sorts of things to you.

Sometimes these men tried to’ ‘stok” us. First they draw on your body with a pen — and then they use a knife or a sharp piece of metal to make the drawing last for the rest of your life.

My mother came to visit me three times a week and I spoke to her through the bars. She always brought me food and clothes. But they did not let me take anything from her. And they did not let her stay for long. They let her stay for only five minutes. I used to cry when she left. She had tears in her eyes as well.


Now I am back home. There is one thing I know. I don’t like policemen. If somebody makes trouble with me or hurts me, I won’t go to a policeman.

They will arrest me instead of the other person. They will say that I was doing this or that, things that I didn’t do.

I cannot-walk here in the street by myself because one policeman wants to kill me. He comes to my home and they say I am at school. At school they tell him I have gone to a doctor. I think this policeman is angry because they let me out from John Voster Square. After school one of my sisters has to walk with me. I don’t go anywhere by myself anymore.


Fanie Kuduka took his mother’s hand. He had told his story and he didn’t feel like talking anymore.

Fanie has suffered a lot. But he is lucky. He is lucky because he has such a caring mother. Beauty Kuduka knows her son needs much love and understanding.

She goes to him when he has bad dreams at night. She listens when he wants to talk. And she does not get angry when he sits all by himself in the yard for a long, long time. She knows that Fanie is hurt inside.

Fanie now goes to a special doctor every week for help. The doctor is try­ing to help Fanie get well again. Mrs Kuduka is also thinking of sending Fanie to the Transkei so that he can be far away from this “angry” policeman.

But Fanie will come back again. He will come back strong and healthy. The future belongs to him.


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