Phoenix Zululand:


Restorative Justice Programme

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Family Conference

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

There will be a Family Conference on Wednesday 27th January in the Women’s Section, Eshowe.

An emotionally dramatic Family Conference

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Deputy Director Nathi Shandu and Father Meshack Vilakazi facilitated a wonderful Family Conference in a Zululand prison last week.

The group assembles, just before leaving the prison, leaving their men behind, yet hopeful that the future will be different and better.


Phoenix Facilitators are often left wondering about the qualities of reflexivity implicit in family life as revealed in the actions and statements during Family Conferences. Do people understand fully the motives they have in acting and behaving as they have? Yet the changes in thinking that happen during the conferences certainly are an indication that new understandings are reached, often with the implication that the blame, denunciation of and demands for contrition from serving prisoners are ameliorated. The causes of criminal offending often reach very deeply into the collective life of families over a long period, and so many people have come to understand this. Helping to lift some of the great load of culpability and shame is a vital part of Family Conferencing, though not to the exclusion of taking responsibility for actions on their lives by serving prisoners.


A very important lesson families take away with them from Family Conferences derives from impassioned pleas, variously expressed, that prisoners should not be forgotten by them. That is an abiding fear that almost all prisoners experience.


In some prisons, Phoenix Family Conferences occur in the heart of the prison, usually in the only space available. This prompts a large amount of varying interest from the surrounding cells. Here, in this picture, two men try to phone home during the conference for others, perhaps prompted into renewed feelings of loss by their exclusion from family life . Some spend hours watching and listening from their barred cell windows.


A non-paricipating prisoner watches a Phoenix Family Conference from a cell.

Inevitably, there are always some individuals at Family Conferences that valuably put  distinctive and unique stamps on the occasions. The Phoenix team never knows quite what to expect owing to the fact that they meet members of families for the first time at the conferences. They simply have to be so very alert to unfolding therapeatic opportunities as they emerge, and encourage these to be entrenched in memory for all those who attend the conferences.


A prisoner, unrelated to Gogo, gets a huge hug which said, in effect, "we are all part of this family gathered here today".




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

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.


Welcome to Phoenix Zululand

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

On this site we will be posting news about our activities.

Please check back regularly.

Follow links at the right of this window to find out more about the many activities of Phoenix Zululand.

Please contact us if you would like to hear more about our Programme in the ten prisons of Zululand.

Best wishes,

Nonceba Lushaba & the Phoenix Team


Thembalethu is very interested in what Nathi is doing during a “Colour Dialogue” session

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

However, all communication between participants in this kind of exercise takes place on the paper, and not in words and conversation.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011



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