Phoenix Zululand:


Restorative Justice Programme

Archive for January, 2012

Siyabonga (Funkie) Zungu and Evelyn Cresswell

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Phoenix Peer Facilitators – Facilitators who are themselves serving prisoners – have played a crucially important role over the years  in the life of the organization. They have recruited groups and performed a range of special tasks in addtion to facilitating Phoenix programmes.

Phoenix must of course give Peer Facititators themselves utmost support: this covers several aspects, from the mundane like keeping up a constant supply of stationery, to the more complex tasks such as developing their skills as facilitators.

Evelyn Cresswell, poet, philosopher and educationst, has been at the forefront of supportive activity for Peer Facilitators.

Funkie Zungu as  Peer Facilitator has run almost all aspects of Phoenix programmes, in addition to performing in “Voice Beyond the Walls” radio dramas. He has been assiduous in pursuing his own university studies. He also has the utmost support of his mum and dad; his mum is  a nurse and his dad is a recently retired long-term employee of Foskor in Richards Bay. They visit him regularly.

Funkie and Evelyn



We heard today, Sunday 5th February, that Evelyn has suffered injury when she slipped on ice while visiting her family in Canada. We wish Evelyn speedy healing of her fractured leg. Get well, Evelyn, and come back to Zululand soon.


5th March: Evelyn arived back in Zululand last week. Welcome back Evelyn, and we hope your leg continues to heal well.

Non & the team


Funkie and the photographs:

Nonceba & Richard spent a pleasant afternoon in the prison with Funkie reviewing his work and the challenges we have in offering him constant support as a  Peer Facilitator. One subject touched on was that of publishing a picture of him in prison uniform, as we have done above in this post. Ordinarily, on this web site we do not mention the the names of prisoners or the the prisons where they are serving sentences, and always pixelate faces so personal identity is obscured. As Funkie said, it is is hard to openly face the full glare of publicity about your status as a prisoner. He described how much thought his peers give to facing people in the future when there is widespread public knowledge of their past as offenders with prison records. A particular anxiety concens how one is to face that inevitable question in a job application or interview “do you have a criminal record?”

However, in the exchange of ideas that afternoon with Funkie, we agreed that there will be ways for him to speak of his own past, including that of having spent some years in prison, in a way that both emboldens him and shows that he owns all aspects of his life to positive and creative effect.

[Notes by Nonceba]

Funkie and Nonceba, Director of Phoenix Zululand

An unusually large Family Conference

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Nonceba, Nathi and their team facilitated an unusually large Family Conference on Saturday 28th January at a rural prison. The conference was notable for the way older women, mostly mums, took a leading role in deepening the expressive potential and honesty of the exchanges between their families an their imprisoned men. What was also exceptional at this Conference was the way so many of the participants reflected on the strong sense of communiity that had developed so very quickly between all the families attending the Conference. Out of this came repeated expressions of familial responsibilty for the care and socal reintegration after prison. The reproving comments were there aplenty, as always. But so too were expressions of love and unconditional regard for the imprisoned men; the Conference heightened these kinds of statements.

The last part of all Phoenix Family Conferences is for all to assemble for a group photograph. Photography is an essential part of Family Conferencing, firstly because it memorializes and celebrates a tumultuous event in the lives of the families, but also stands witness to the undertakings from all sides with respect to the future, especially in the prison context which can be so damaging to the ordinary workings of memory.


Imagine you are a prisoner, part of a Phoenix group, and for some weeks you have reflected on the meaning of your life in "Starting with Us", and then prepared for a Family Conference in the programme "Conversations in Families". How will you speak to members of families, some of whom you have not seen for a long time? What signs can you give them of your vulnerability and of your urgent need for help in getting back on your feet after prison? These kinds of questions will be daunting. However, in one small way, you can show your keen expectation of the Family Conference by painstakingly laundering and pressing your prison uniform, and shining your shoes - the picture is poignant in that it shows how the range of options available to prisoners to express themselves materially is severely limited.


Some members of the Phoenix Facilitator team are caught in a moment of repose during the Family Conference. Both the preparatory programmes and the Conferences are very demanding emotionally. Faciltiators are constantly alert to the need for the right kind of medation at any one moment when prisoners get together with their families. In the photograph are Ntombi, Thembalethu, Sebenzile, Lamo and Father Meshack. The Phoenix team can accomplish a great deal in the 4-5 hours available to them during Family Conferences: over the months and years, large numbers of people have left these conferences with a feeling that their mutual life-crises have been elevated to both importance and manageability, and the feeling that they "have been heard" - they have been lifted from the desolation of social anonymity. Thus the stigma and humilation of having someone in prison can become an ennobling human drama. The Phoenix team has built up a repertoire of considerable skills.




Geoff Harris has recently presented a conference paper based on his Phoenix evaluation report

Friday, January 27th, 2012

The Director, Nonceba Lushaba, with the Chairperson of the Phoenix Board, Professor Geoff Harris

Geoff has recently presented a conference paper based on his evaluation report. His report may be viewed here:

Phoenix evaluation report

Lamo Jama’s inventive work with men in prison

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Lamo has worked with men in prison over a number of years. She has an extraordinary ability to win their trust and therefore to enable them to grapple with the challenges they will have in returning to their families.

She has also established herself as a trusted mediator between prisoners and their families. Lamo often speaks about her own experience of being a prisoner, experience which helps her illuminate the difficulties faced by others. She is one of several Phoenix star Facilitators.

This week, Lamo has been using role-plays to enable her prison groups to anticipate the reactions of families and friends when they return home after prison.

Three men play various roles of members of a family as they improvise an imagined scene upon homecoming. A valuable aspect of this exercise is that participants learn about each other's families, and they are thus able too lend each other insights about how to manage the negative perceptions so many have to confront .


Lamo in discussion with her prison group before they go to work on their improvised and dramatised situations about problems they imagine to await them when they return home. The working space available in prisons is always limited. Lamo has triumphed over such physical limitations.


Lamo herself participating in a dance session with American students and women prisoners, a session which she helped to facilitate.

Ikhwezi Radio Station broadcasts interviews with Phoenix personalities

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Radio Ikhwezi has conducted interviews with some members of the Phoenix team. These were broadcast during January and February 2012.

Thembalethu Nhlebela and programme presenter, Nosiphiwo Buthelezi, are seen in the picture. In an interview with Nosiphiwo, Thembalethu discussed her struggle for acceptance from family, having been in prison and the stigma that follows former offenders. She told of hope and the journey to feeling accepted, loved and needed. She spoke of her work as a Phoenix Facilitator and the challenges and triumphs of delivering life-skills programmes to inmates.

The interview was broadcast on 28 January and 4 February 2012 on IKhwezi FM at 12:30pm.


Themba in an interview at Ikhwezi Radio Station



In the next  picture are Ida Gartrell, Nosiphiwo Buthelezi the programme presenter and Mzi Ndlovu the assistant producer for dramas at Radio Ikhwezi. Ida discussed her work with “Voice Beyond the Walls” and how radio drama is created and performed. She speaks about the value of the process and how drama can bring coherence to the stories of people’s lives and lead to a deeper understanding of what it is that brings them to prison.


The first half of her interview was broadcast on Saturday 14 January 2012 at 12:30 and the second half was broadcast on Saturday 21 January 2012 at 12:30 on IKhwezi FM.


Ida Gartrell being interviewed by Ikhwezi Radio

The ebullient and irrepressible Thembalethu Nhlebela

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Themba has over a number of years performed a valuable role in helping her imprisoned participants to learn to play – with ideas, with notions of the self, and to be inventively and compassionately experimental in relationships. The prison environment is a toxic environment not conducive to emotional health. As such, it readily corrodes self-confidence.

Themba’s work as a Facilitator, perhaps deriving its extraordinary energy from her past as a prisoner herself –  which has granted to her a deep understanding of what the recovery of self entails – has been salutary to her colleagues and group participants. She is the quintessential Phoenix.

We salute her.

A magical photo of Temba during group work in 2006 with some of her young partcipants in that year - all with painted faces during the session.

Nonceba discovers Tikkun Magazine

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Nonceba writes:

Through a LinkedIn group I found the Tikkun Magazine

Their winter issue deals with Restorative Justice and the articles at first glance seem very interesting. There seems to be a fair amount to do with art, lots of visuals there. Please could the Phoenix team tell me if they think I should subscribe to this.

There is an article by a person called Sujatha Baliga which seems intriguing so I conducted a wen search for her and found a webpage

She gave a lecture on Restorative Justice which she has posted on her site. It’s a voice clip and powerpoint presentation in one. It’s just over an hour so I haven’t listened to the whole thing but what I’ve listened to so far is great! It seems RJ in schools has managed to turn around the bad discipline and expulsion of youngsters from school and in circle processes they are able to resolve issues and not distrupt the peace and flow of the school.


The web site has a link to “Women Rising/Rising Voices” which even has some testimonials. It seems pretty similar to our own “Voices Beyond the Walls” project and is geared at women.


I should be grateful for Phoenix team thoughts about this material.


Stephanie McKee: her special study for SIT

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Institutionalized: the art of Zululand’s prisoners

Stephanie wrote an outstanding analysis of prisoner art in her paper for School for International Training during 2011. The paper gives special attention to the way technical aspects to artistic creativity have been used to yield complex thinking about the lived predicaments prisoners find themselves in.

The paper also is rich in that it gives a large number of examples illustrative of the points she makes.

Read her paper at:


Lamo Jama and Stephanie McKee working with a prison group

Lamo Jama and Stephanie McKee working together with a prison group

Tommy McAree and Claire Wiltse worked intensively with the Programme in early 2011

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Click on the links to read Tommy and Claire’s ISPs.

CW ISP PT 1 _2_tommy ISP _2_


Welcome to Phoenix Zululand

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Phoenix Zululand works in all ten of Zululand’s prisons.


Please come back often to keep abreast of our activities.


Please get in touch with us if you would like to know more about us. Follow links at the right of this page to find out more about specific areas of the Programme.


Good wishes


Nonceba and her team


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