A letter to a friend in jail

Dear Lazzie

I do not have enough words to tell you how much I miss you. When I first heard that you were detained by the security police, I did not believe that it was true. I only began to believe it after a week had passed.

I woke up every day and hoped that you would be free. Days passed. Weeks and months passed. But nothing happened. Who knows? Perhaps years will pass.

I have tried to think of the reason why you are in jail. I have thought long and hard. And I came to a conclusion. There is no reason. The police have no business to keep you in detention. I hope they are not hurting you. We all know how they sometimes treat innocent people like you.

I know you as a peaceful person – and I believe that most if not all detainees are peace loving people. This confuses me more. What could a peaceful person like you have done to end up in jail? What could all the peace loving people have done? I think there is only one answer. You people are on the side of good and justice. That is the only reason.

If you are in jail because of the fight against high rents in the Vaal, then you are not in jail for nothing. The people are still refusing to pay the high rents. The threats have not worked. The people have not weakened. We will not pay rent until the rent is fair. We stand behind you and the others who sit in jail.

Is the bullet still in your body? I hope not. I pray to the Gods of Africa that the police have taken you to a doctor. After all, the bullet inside you is a police bullet. They should take care of their bullets.

Yours parents are doing well. They are worried about your health and they miss you very much. But they are being very brave. Your youngest sister misses you terribly. She is always talking about you.

I met your sweetheart a few weeks back. She told me that she had a dream about you and in her dream you were free. She said that you held her tight and kissed her. She is really looking forward to being with you forever.

I must go now. I just want to say that I miss you very much but I cannot feel sorry for you. In Africa we never pity a true soldier. We carry a soldier high on our shoulders and we praise the Gods. May peace be with you, my friend.

With much love
M.N.
Sebokeng

Lazarus “Lazzie” More of Sebokeng was detained by the security police on the 9th October 1984. Seven months have passed and he is still In detention.

Lazzie is our friend and fellow worker at Learn and Teach. He is a co­-ordinator of a learning group in Sebokeng.

We, together with his family and other friends, are very worried about Lazzie. We worry like the family and friends of all other detainees.

But we also worry for another reason. Lassie was shot by the police in Sebokeng on the 4th September last year. And when he was detained, he still had the bullet in his body. The bullet is stuck in his bladder.

Doctors at the Coronationville Hospital were treating Lazzie before he was detained. They could not take the bullet out immediately – because the bullet was too close to his spine. They wanted to wait a while before giving him an operation.

Lazzie’s lawyer has phoned the police and sent them letters asking about Lazzie’s health. The lawyer has asked the police to take him back to the doctors who were treating him.

The police say that Lazzie’s health is “satisfactory” and that there is no need to worry. In their first letter they said he was getting treatment from a district surgeon. In the second letter they said that a specialist was treating him – and that he still had not had an operation.

The police say we should not worry. But we do worry.

Firstly, we do not feel better when we hear that Lazzie is “satisfactory”. What does “satisfactory” mean? Surely Lazzie’s family and friends have the right to know exactly what is happening.

Secondly, we have good reason not to trust police doctors. We believe that the police should take Lazzie back to the doctors who first treated him.

Thirdly, the police should allow Lazzie’s family to visit him They have only seen him once – and that was in November last year after Mrs Helen Suzman made a few phone calls.

Lazarus More, like so many other detainees, has been in detention for a long time already. It’s not decent! It’s not fair!

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