In November 2009, 50-year old Liz Warren, a popular chef in the seaside town of Hermanus, was arrested in Senegal for drug smuggling. In June 2013, Gauteng businessman Gerhard Hattingh was imprisoned in Thailand for drug smuggling. Desperate or greedy, naïve or deceived, there are many reasons why people become trapped in this pernicious web of crime and land up paying a devastating price imprisoned in a foreign land with no recourse to their loved ones.
During his presidency, Nelson Mandela proposed negotiations with foreign countries for prisoner transfer agreements. Twenty one years later, the numbers of South Africans incarcerated abroad have grown, but South Africa is yet to sign an agreement that would allow our citizens to serve the final portion of their sentences at home close to their loved ones.
This week Special Assignment investigates the debate around Prisoner Transfer Agreements, a highly controversial and emotive issue often in a country already burdened by prison overcrowding and the devastating impact of drugs. Many South Africans in foreign prisons survive in shocking conditions without the prospect of rehabilitation.
‘Out of Sight’ tells the heartbreaking stories of Liz Warren, incarcerated in Senegal and Gerhard Hattingh, imprisoned in Thailand. They, like hundreds of other South Africans in similar situations, plead for the right to serve their sentences close to their loved ones in South Africa.
Locked up out of sight, they are desperate to be heard.
Watch OUT OF SIGHT, this week’s episode of Special Assignment, produced by Hazel Friedman. Sunday, 2 August 2015 at 20h30 on SABC 3. Repeated Mondays at 23:30.