Lindsey moved to Cape Town in 1990 from the United Kingdom, with her husband and their three children to lead a church in the city. Twenty years later she is widowed and working to bring hope and a future to juveniles caught on the wrong side of the South African criminal justice system.
“Jesus’ words in Matt 25 struck me to the heart – ‘I was in prison and you visited me.’ It wasn’t so hard to go and visit – that was all Jesus asked and in doing that simple thing I found my own heart being healed and restored.”
South African prisons are over crowded, violent and under funded and no place for children – and yet thousands of young South Africans find themselves behind bars – many for months and even years awaiting trail. With little access to education and no real focus on restorative justice these institutions simple exacerbate the life struggles of the inmates.
It is into this context that Lindsey stepped – first to visit and then to return as one who brings light into darkness:
1. Lindsey works in Pollsmoor Prison with juvenile males awaiting trial. There are no state run programmes with these juveniles and so Lindsey began teaching a literacy and life skills programmes which in time led to her establishing a school in the juvenile unit which has subsequently attracted government funding.
“There was a lack of suitable well produced material that was relevant enough to capture the guys attention - I begun to adapt and write material for their use. It was at this stage I begun to use Restorative justice (RJ) principles in the custodial setting to teach reading and writing. Restorative justice is in essence biblical justice - it is very relational. I am writing and producing material to help increase literacy levels and at the same time use relevant RJ points to capture their young hearts and minds, engaging them at a deeper level.”
2. Lindsey also works in Drakenstien Prison with sentenced juveniles. Alongside an established soccer programme she oversees and coordinates an educational programme.
“I work with them in prison getting them established in a suitable course of study while they are incarcerated and then follow that through on their release. Most of them have a dream in their hearts for their lives after prison and they need help in arranging courses of study in schools and colleges - I try to liaise with educational institutions to get them places to study and also with bursaries.”
3. Finally Lindsey works with Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA) alongside attorneys and advocates as the link between the prison and the legal profession. Specifically raising public awareness of violations of human rights of the children she works with in prison.
“Sometimes I feel so expectant about going to prison – it is like going to visit Jesus. I can see the eyes of Jesus reflected through the eyes of a wounded child.”