Love Behind Bars
She loved her boyfriend unconditionally, even though he was serving life in prison. His charms were irresistible. “He was calm, sweet and giving me attention. I was emotionally attached to him,” Vanessa Modise reveals.
He was already sentenced when they met. She was cheeky towards him, but his charm disarmed her. Vanessa says, “Sometimes I wanted to talk to somebody. My friend would judge me. He showed interest and was concerned about my children. I just wanted to be loved.”
Vanessa’s child, Amantle loves him. “He is a father-figure to me, even though I have my biological father. He reprimands without commanding. When I have an argument with my mother, he intervenes without taking sides. He encourages me to study, and even refers me to the people he knows for assistance,” she says.
Unfortunately, Vanessa ended the relationship. “I am old now. Our courtship did not go anywhere. My fear was that, he might go back to his old ways when he is released from prison.”
The split angered Amantle: “He built an unbreakable relationship with us, and was there for us. Having to build another relationship with someone else is going to be difficult.” Despite the break-up, she still draws courage and takes advice from her mother’s ex.
Solly Mankga is sceptical about these relationships. He served 15 years in prison. Solly says families of the prisoners turn their back against them, and they need support and visits. “Ladies fall for the prisoners because they send them beautiful messages, including hand-made cards. Ladies love those things that’s why they visit them regularly,” Solly says.
He guesses that most convicts lie and use the ladies to their benefits. “Some of these ladies are sweet-talked to smuggle in banned items in prison like cellphones, money and drugs. Others tell their ladies that they have money and they will marry them once released from prison.”
Solly, himself, was dating while behind bars. “I was corresponding with the University of South Africa. Education officers where not always there when I needed study material. This lady was helping out. I met her only once after I was released,” he confesses. He is adamant that telling lie is another survival tool among prisoners.
Solly completed his matric in prison. His other qualifications include N6 Business Studies and BA in Philosophy through UNISA. He is the co-founder of Still Rise non-profit organisation. The objective is to integrate ex-offenders back into their communities and host events to discourage, particularly young people, from committing crime. Solly is also an aspiring business man.