Prison Gangs

Within a small area of Cape Town, you will find a mall, the highly protected US Embassy and Pollsmoor Maximum security prison. Notorious for prison gang membership and rampant violence, Pollsmoor did at some stage house the likes of Nelson Mandela. Today prison security staff, warders and the like are viewed with both respect and as a means to climb up the gang ranks, within the prison system. Murder is rewarded and stealing is the order of the day.

For those who have been dealt a bad hand and made wrong choices in life, the word correctional facility only refers to the name and not the activities of the prison. In a very controversial episode of Boondocks (produced by Aaron MacGruder) he tackled the  prison system issue by claiming that “The prison industrial complex is a system situated at the intersection of government and private interests. It uses prisons as a solution to social, political and economic problems. It includes human rights violations, the death penalty, slave labor, policing, courts, the media, political prisoners and the elimination of dissent.”

The prison system in South Africa however is similar to what Aaron describes in the statement above. A portrait by a photographer de Claremont shows the life the typical life of a prisoner and the hardships that they have to go through.


Prison is not for the faint-hearted and a series of interviews by Ross Kemp with prison gangs across the world, highlights this quite clearly.

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