When I arrived at the Matsapha Correctional Centre to begin my sentence, I was first placed at the Maximum facility as my sentence was still long and new. That is when I met Amos Mbedzi, a man I had seen in the papers for years but who did not know me much or could not remember me.

 I was afraid of this man because, indeed, mistakes had been made leading to my being in prison and coming closer to him was not one of the best options I had in my mind. The next morning after my arrival, there was Amos Mbedzi on the door of my cell asking for Silolo. Shocked as I was, I went out to meet this commander of the Swazi revolution - tall and very imposing in statue with hairy hands and arms. I was expecting to be chastised verbally or criticised bitterly but all he said was to welcome me and assure me that difficult as it was inside, it was still a place of residence only if I learnt to abide by some of the Centre's guidelines and also respect other inmates, more especially those of the gangsterism sect whom he alleged tend to be troublesome when provoked.

He also alerted me about correctional officers I should be cautious of and all dangers relating to our stay in prison. On seeing that he was being good to me, I related my trouble that all my belongings had been left in South Africa before my arrest and I am struggling to bring them home. He said I should not stress but pray to God because he alone has the means to create ways that all my belongings are transported home. A Christian myself, I was not looking to prayer for this but looking to personal means; all was not working but I prayed and a few days after I came back to him with a testimony that my clothes and all belongings were safely back at home and we rejoiced together. Mbedzi had gotten to love the church and reading the Bible; I was drawn to that as I was slowly losing hope in faith after my conviction. He resuscitated my belief in God and we went to the Chapel together on a daily basis.

We could sit reading the Bible together but also read newspapers together as he loved to read local and South African newspapers: the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times and City Press which were brought for him every Sunday by his lawyer. I would also read and then discuss the politics inside the newspapers. As we were now close and discussing many issues, even personal matters, he would allude to the fact that his stay in prison has been very difficult. The treatment from some correctional officers and some inmates alike had been very terrible. Some inmates would accuse him that the bomb ordeal of 2008 had caused King Mswati to avoid giving out pardons and therefore affecting offenders serving time. This also bordered on xenophobia of course because such treatment was not directed to locals. Officers would always tell him that he deserves death for his attempt on the life of the king. They would tell him he would be lucky to go home alive. These things they would say to him privately and overtly with other inmates hearing like myself.

He was frustrated by being denied resources from visitors. Since his family was far, he had arranged with a local woman that his friends or relatives would give her whatever they wanted to send and she would come to prison as she was nearby. Correctional officers stopped that woman, asking how she knew Mbedzi since he was a foreigner. That frustrated him severely because it meant he would be without toiletries and some extra food as he had gotten to be able to buy extra foodstuffs from the tuckshop to supplement the usually spoilt prison food. Mbedzi was frustrated by the fact that the regime refused him permission to at least go and serve his sentence back in his homeland as many attempts had been made by the South African government through its embassy and Venda traditional leaders.

Hopes had been raised but nothing came through. Being Mbedzi in a Swazi prison was always difficult. A woman from South African Red Cross would come now and again to check on the welfare of political prisoners but she was denied meeting us as she was always told we are out, and gone to hospital. One other thing that frustrated Mbedzi was the length of sentence. This has happened with many offenders of course when they have the strong urge for freedom but it remains a far fetch.