Phoenix Zululand:


Restorative Justice Programme

Archive for the ‘“Starting with Us”’ Category

Lucia Trimbur from CUNY visited Phoenix in August 2013

Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Lucia visited a number of sites in and around Eshowe including the Dhlinza Forest Boardwalk

Lucia visited a number of sites in and around Eshowe including the Dhlinza Forest Boardwalk

Lucia participated fully in an extraordinarily intense programme during a visit to a Zululand prison. August 2013

Lucia participated fully in an extraordinarily intense programme during a visit to a Zululand prison. August 2013

A frequently experienced phenomenon in Phoenix work is the enduring and pervasive quality of the trust that Phoenix facilitators are able to engender; this makes it possible for visitors to join prison groups in a very transitory way — provided that they are with the Phoenix team — and yet be able to to rely of the trust that has been hitherto established. This is possibly testimony to one of the most important educational and developmental processes we see happening in prisons. It is never easy for prisoners to trust others, let alone comparative strangers. The social conditions from which most come, and their experience of the criminal justice system, makes their vulnerability an important factor with which we have to work as a living reality.



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

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.

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.

At the heart of Phoenix programmes is “Starting with Us”

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Baba Meshack Vilakazi conducts a “Starting with Us” session at a Zululand prison.


This programme of Phoenix works hard at enabling serving prisoners to explore matters of self-revelation and sincerity. It also allows Facilitators to gain insight into the travail and anguish that prisoners may face in their home and community contexts.


“Voice Beyond the Walls”

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Ida Gartrell heads the “Voice Beyond the Walls” programme of Phoenix Zululand.


Ida has much expertise and experience in prison-based drama. Phoenix has a large collection of voice and radio programmes. Radio stations that have substantially isiZulu-speaking audiences are invited to apply to Phoenix to broadcast programmes and radio plays.


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