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banner Monday, 12 November, 2001, 17:34 GMT
Killers come home: Your comments
Killers come home

Thank you for your emails.
They have all been forwarded to Joanna Thomas.

Email your comments to:
correspondent@bbc.co.uk

Your comments will be posted every week.


As a South African living abroad I watched last night's episode with great emotion. I am filled with admiration for the wonderful work that you do and for the courage of the two men in sharing their story. My question is: Firstly, do you have an update on Mogamat and Erefaan since the documentary was made? Secondly what is the success rate for rehabilitated prisoners leading meaningful productive lives once they leave the haven of prison?
Felicia Nebel, UK

Having lived in Cape Town for a number of years I know what courage it takes to do what Joanna has done. I think that she is a remarkable lady and I hope that all she is doing to help people, like Mogamat & Erefaan, on their road to recovery works. South Africa could really use more people like her, people that are willing to get to the root of the problem and not just look for blame. I wish her success for all her future projects. I would like to know if Mogamat Benjamin has been able to gain more of his family's trust and whether he has been able to start to kick his mandrax habit? I would also like to know if Erefaan Jacobs scars of the past, that were so kindly removed for him, have helped him to keep clean and mend the wounds that had so plagued him in the past?
Tracy Pawlowski, UK

Whilst it is commendable to try and involve these men in a rehabilitation program, surely someone who has the 'ability' to kill at the age of nine has some inherent personality disorder? It cannot be argued that a nine year old is too young to know right from wrong, murder cannot be dismissed that easily.
Helen Buckland, UK

I watched the documentary last night and I was very impressed by what you were able to accomplish. It was all very moving, and I believe that it is people like yourself who are the real heroes in this world. Your job must certainly be more satisfying than mine, because you are directly helping the people live better lives.

You mention that you have no fear of these men. Is there something in your past that has made you so strong, or is it just a natural thing for you? What made you choose this job?
Nick, UK

I was born and brought up in Cape Town but have lived in London for the last 25 years. I was so deeply moved by "Killers don't cry" and am filled with admiration for you and your work. How can I help the work that you are doing? I would be grateful and honoured to help.
Pam Dennis, UK

How is Erefaan doing? A few us watched the programme last night. We all from the Cape Flats and living in London and we come from Kensington. Mitchells Plain, Belhar and we relate to what is happening in our community. Tell Erefaan that we here in the UK wish him all the best and that he should carry on with his message. Please carry on with your work and we will pray for you.
Donovan, UK

I just wish to express sincere wishes of goodwill to Joanna for the brilliant work that she is doing. I pray that she will have the strength to continue her work and that the people she touches will have the strength to change themselves forever.
Seamus Dunphy, Ireland

The Correspondent programmes "Killers Don't Cry" and "Killers Come Home" moved me beyond belief. I am in complete awe of how you are helping these men turn their lives around.
Rosslyn Okumu, England

Fantastic work Joanna - press on - keep it up. How similar is the work being done by NICRO and do you co-operate with each other?
Charles, UK

I work as a Behaviour Support Assistant for children who witness an extreme amount of violent behaviour (much of which is in the home and directed at themselves or their mothers). This has subsequently filled these children with an enormous amount of rage which they cannot express other than with their fists. I was curious as to whether you believe any of your methods used within the prisons could be modified to be used with the children that I support? I hope that you can continue the obvious good work that you are doing in South African prisons.
Helen George , England

I am from Uganda but I have watched your program in the UK, and I was so impressed by your work. I have just written to tell you "Thanks very much for your efforts". I hope the root cause of driving people to such extremes, which to me seems to be child abuse is addressed.
Kabuye, UK

I watched the second programme on BBC about the work you are doing in South Africa, with interest. I make 2-3 trips each year to Kingston Jamaica. Where I have been working in two schools over the last year. One is in the heart of a gang run ghetto of Trench town. An area very similar I think to where the gang men lived, shown in your film. Part of being in the schools, is trying to teach the children conflict resolution, as they know no other way than to be very violent. I have also had some contact with the gang who run the area, and one expressed a desire to change, but didn't know how.
Hayley Harvey, UK & Jamaica.

The skills and methods you are using based, amongst other things, on empathy, love and forgiveness and the inclusion of prayer leads me to believe you are using a Christian counselling technique. Is that so. Also, as a Christian who has used similar skills I could empathise with what you are doing and the programme moved me to tears of joy to see what you had achieved. What you are doing, "setting captives free" is wonderful and I would love to know more about it please.
Beryl Alexander, UK

The programme was emotionally provoking. Your work is brilliant, using prisons for rehabilitation is excellent. Just one thought though even with all the immorality the gentlemen lived through, I think rape is a sexual preference. Do you think they can really change? Again you truly are an angel. Keep up the good work.
Marc Giles, UK

I was moved and inspired by the courage, dedication and commitment shown by you and the inmates that has allowed such healing to develop. I am an Irish Art Psychotherapist working in London. I am currently working on an Ex-Prisoners Therapeutic Support Group. I would be interested to hear to what other settings you think your approach would be suited?

Well done, I look forward to hearing more about your valuable and successful work.
David Casby, UK

You are truly an amazing women working with these man that have sure a harrowing past. These men are human and need to be treated in the appropriate way. Your revolutionary course has seemed to offer these man hopes for the future, keep up the good work. My question is, how is Erefaan's tattoo removal programme doing since the program was recorded?
C.P, UK

Tonight's programme was both moving and inspirational. How do I find out more about the work of the centre for conflict resolution ? and come and work for you?
Natasha Palmer, South Africa

I watched the programme earlier on tonight - very moving, though provoking and inspiring. Thank you for filming both these programmes - I showed the first one to my youth group. Please do a follow up. Many thanks for all that you do Joanna - thank you for bringing hope back to those that not only society has rejected, but have rejected themselves.
Nicole Adamides, UK

I was very moved by tonight's broadcast. Joanna Thomas deserves the highest public recognition for doing what must be a stressful job at times. I was wondering whether letters to other people that are being released would help to make them feel they were not alone when they were beyond the supportive prison establishment?
Ady King-Turner

I watched Killers Come Home because I had heard a news item on the radio here the other day of headlines on several South African newspapers concerning the gang rape/sodomy of a 9 month old baby girl and also that she may now be infected with the HIV virus. I wonder what has happened to a society in which horrific crime takes place. I thought of the struggle for freedom of the people of South Africa. And in the program Mogamat was blaming apartheid for what had happened to him - his wife said it wasn¿t. Like the rest of humanity, we are all children of our history, family, national. Long may your work continue in the resolution of conflicts, many of which go on inside and seldom see the light of day.
Helen O'Kelly, UK

I really hope that Erefaan and Mogamat can make a successful transition to a violent free life. How are they doing now?(PS I am full of admiration for the courage and humanity you showed to the men and their families.)Thank you.
Christine Ferguson, Scotland

I watched the program this evening on Joanna Thomas and the men she helps, what a wonderful woman. I hope that she gets as much support as she gives to others and that her strength and compassion continues to grow and she has the friendship and protection of good friends and men like Erefaan Jacobs.
Emma Matheou.

I was watching the programme and I have been wanting to go into child or criminal psychology (I am 16)and I saw your work and thought it was wonderful, could you maybe advise me as to what courses I should be following at school?
Lyndsey Capper, Scotland

You are to be congratulated on your exceptional work in these two productions about Pollsmoor Prison. Your moral and artistic vision have merged in an outstanding set of documentaries.

My hope is that on the ground, many people will be inspired by Joanna Thomas' experience & will be encouraged to believe in the possibility of transformation.
Lin Crowe

You are an amazing caring and courageous person. Watching the programmes made me realise what a deep dark hole the gang members live in. Its somebody like yourself who shows them that there is a light that can be reached. Do you work for a charity group or is there a group that would take donations?
Andrew Seymour, UK

Have you written on book on the techniques of conflict resolution? I will be in Cape Town in March next year and I would like to buy a copy or have information on the amazing approach you use.
Aline Kernan, UK

We show the programmes to Social Care and Education professionals and it is always so powerful in reinforcing that change is possible even with the most disaffected client and we must always offer the opportunity. I know many people who would like to write to Erefaan and would be grateful for an address to forward them on to. Thank you so much on behalf of all the staff who have been so inspired by your work.
Eileen Murphy, UK

In your programme empathy, forgiveness and compromise are all key components. You clearly condemn the action not the person. However in western society there is a culture of blame and unforgiveness, this is a fundamental difference. What do you think (assuming you agree) the effect of this difference is on society as a whole as well as rehabilitation of violent people?
David, Scotland

Thank you for an excellent programme. I was moved, saddened, uplifted and worried for those men.

Will/is their progress be followed? I would like them both to succeed and not one more than the other, both equally. The scenes of the family with Joanne Thomas were personally, very difficult for me and I cried with them.

An excellent programme and all credit and admiration for Ms Thomas. We all have our ghosts and demons and I am so glad that someone is trying to help 2 very sad (and I don't say that with pity)men exorcise theirs, Mogamat and Mohammad.
Joanne, UK

Fascinating programme; I'd like to congratulate Joanna on her successes so far. I would be interested to know more about Joanna's background and how she developed her training program
Philip Gooch, UK

A totally inspiring program. Have the two men featured been an exception or do many others find such strength to change?
Helen Cleaver, UK

I admire your courage, brevity and amazing results on Erefaan and Mogamat. I too, have set foot in Pollsmoor, unaware of it's notoriety. My purpose - to visit my brother who was arrested three years ago in connection with the murder of a businessman, he was granted bail of R1000 on 17 April last year, after the state's main witness changed his statement. He has endured 3 years of court proceedings for various alleged charges, then went on a hunger strike whilst at Pollsmoor, to fight for the improvement of inhumane and unhygienic conditions and was seeking a fair and just bail application. Unfortunately or unfairly, he was convicted and sentence to eight years of imprisonment for the contravention of the Arms and Ammunitions Act.(he is to appeal). I attended some of the hearings whilst on holiday and was amazed to witness the ill treatment and injustice of the 'Kangaroo Courts' of South Africa, all because the accused is a member of PAGAD. All he wanted is to fight against it! The drugs, gangsters and corruption that plague South Africa. He does need help and the intervention of international media.
Ruwayda Sutton, UK

I really admire the work that you have been doing with the inmates at Pollsmoor Prison, South Africa. It's a blessing to see someone care enough to want to make a difference in the live of others through love. But tell me how you managed to work with these people knowing that they have committed such horrendous crimes? What special qualities are needed to work with people in prisons?
Mark Cresser, UK

Congratulations on two inspiring programmes on Pollsmoor's worst gangsters and how they found the courage to confront their own pain rather than pass it on.
Jilly Brooke

I admire the work that you are doing. As a student whose work is around restorative justice (MA Youth Justice and Probation and Applied Criminology, Mdx Univ. London, UK), I would like to know if you undertook any work with the girl who was raped by her stepfather; only with her. As I perceived it, and I may be wrong, there was no sense of justice given to her own ordeal. In general I got the feeling that your program portrayed your work in a sense that seems to be of more benefit to the "ex-offender" instead of the victims. I am concern about this. I feel for both the victims and the offenders. I even shed tears when the two key ex-offenders have their talk to those students. However, at the same time I felt the pain of the young girl that was raped. It seems as if she has been pushed to doing something for the name of peace and stability, without her coming to terms with her own pain and in my understanding restorative work should not only be benefit one party. It should be of use and benefit to every one that agrees to take part in it. I hope I am wrong on this point because your work is not only good for the offender it is also good for the communities that they live in.
Claudia Zylbersztajn, UK

Joanna, I am in awe at the way you dealt with the very difficult and complex situations that the prisoners and their families are facing. I am a counsellor and feel that counselling here is often denigrated. I can sometimes understand this because many therapists are poorly trained or inadequate for the work. Yet to see the way Mogamat and Erefaan responded to your therapy I am once again convinced that with the right approach from a good therapist damaged people can move forward. I would like to know if any research has been done on the progress of the ex prisoners since the programme was recorded. I hope that the affects are long lasting, but feel that any change for the good is progress indeed. How did you train for this work Joanna, what type of therapy are you using ? It seemed a bit like psycho synthesis - is it? Thank you and congratulations. Wheeler
Lydia Wheeler, U.K.

What are the underlying principles and philosophy that inform your work ? I am a therapist and trainer myself and would like to obtain more details of what you are doing....where might such information be obtainable ? Does the Centre for Conflict Resolution have any sister organisations in the UK ? With heartfelt good wishes to you, Mogamat, Erefaan and all of the others you are working with.
Tracey Sanders, England

Firstly, thank God for people like you Joanna. What amazing work you are doing and what an amazing woman you are. I was very moved by both programmes. My question is : How do you look beyond the atrocities that these men have committed (especially Mogamat)and believe in them? I felt nervous for Magmata¿s family and ask myself if it is fair that they have to live with the fear of potential violence etc. I do commend how far they have come and would dearly love for you to pass on my sincerest wishes to them for a positive and happy future. Please tell Erefaan that we are thinking of him and are very proud of his achievements. All the best to you Joanna. And of course, well done Correspondent for such a wonderful series!
Libby Crew, UK

I would like to first of all commend you on your conflict resolution programme. Secondly, my heart goes out to Mogamat and Erefaan, I wish them all the best in their road to recovery.
Adamu Sambo, Nigeria

I have no question. I simply want to let Joanna know how much I admire her. She must be an incredible woman. That is evident. The work she is doing; the fact the she is even trying to make a difference in a world where people seem to give up on others so easily... She IS making a difference. The programme really touched my life and certainly put my own situation in such perspective! I want to thank BBC for making this programme. As a South African living away from Cape Town, it was wonderful to be able to, for a brief while, be reunited with a little bit of home. It was also good to gain a little insight into the work that is being done in the lives of the people that society tends to want to forget. I hope that you will be able to, at some time in the future, follow up on the lives of these two men. Joanna, thank you. And if you can, please tell Mogamat and Erefaan that I admire their hard work and will pray that they have the courage to continue their struggle. Michelle
Michelle Berrangé, UK

Joanne, Erefaan, Mogamat My husband, Eddie and I watched the programme about the three of you wanting to bring LOVE and HOPE into the lives of Erefaan and Mogamat and the young children in your community. Eddie and I, two middle aged people here in Manchester were moved to cry tears to see two men of tremendous courage and strength. We admire you and Joanna. You gave hope, not only to people there in South Africa, but to all who witnessed your story of struggle. You can count always on our prayers and if there is a way to help, please let us know.
Judith & Eadie

I was broken when I saw the hearts of these hardened men become soft. Seeing tears in their eyes & their attitudes change in the two programmes was truly awesome. It proves that there is love in the heart of every man. It¿s just that sometimes the circumstances of life make it seem in some cases that this isn't the case. Because of wrong choices, abuse or whatever, some lives look far from pretty on the surface. But I thank God that he, & people like Joanna, don't just read the label or look at the cover. But they take time to consider the contents also. How many more people are there like Mohammad in the world? Crying out from within for a new life. But being held back by fear & lack of knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments on the these fantastic programmes. They have obviously made a big impact on me, and I hope to see more decent programming of this kind in the future.
Stuart Watt

Thank you for caring Joanna. We need people like you in this country where all anybody ever wants is revenge. When ex cons like me (out 18yrs) go straight we are neither believed or encouraged. No one wants to give us work then we are called layabouts and worthless.
George Rolph, UK

Joanna, I once worked on a project called the Holy Island Project, lead by Tibetan Buddhist Lamas. I watched many people open up over time from a great variety of problems. Where did you learn your skills and who inspired you to this work ? Thank you and those involved for such a thought provoking programme. I hope you well.
Kevin Brown (Dunyur), UK

I just watched the documentary about you and your work. It was beautiful and moving to see that there are still people like you who are willing to try and make a difference for people like Mogamat and Erefaan, who seem to be beyond repair. I hope you will be able to keep up this important and wonder-working job, if you can call it that, and I would like to wish you, and Mogamat, Erefaan and all those other people you work with, all the best for the future.
Caroline Graham, Holland

Fascinating. Are you or have you published your work as described in the program. Are any of your Ideas drawn from Multi systemic therapy for conduct disorder. As A systemically trained child psychotherapist I was particularly interested in the family workshop. What are the main theoretical systemic ideas you draw upon
Dr Mark Woodgate, UK

I watched the program "Killers don¿t cry" and that is exactly what I did. When the program was over I thought about why I had cried and I realised it was because I identified so closely with the two guys and their families. Thank you for caring for them enough to try and help them. It is something that this Country could do a lot more of if only it would stop thinking in terms of revenge and instead start to give encouragement and guidance to those of us who have led a destructive criminal past.
George Rolph

As a fellow South African I applaud you Joanna, for your bravery and belief in the people you work with. I would like to wish you all the best in future such projects.
Ronelle Rowley, UK

What fantastic work! I am a psychotherapist clear that given the right environment miracles can happen. I would very much like to get involved in this work and wonder where I might start. Any suggestions?
Angus Landman, UK

This is just a short message to congratulate you on the excellent work you are doing in rehabilitating prisoners in Cape Town. I am at present working in London but grew up on the Cape Flats (Athlone) and recognise what a brave and important project you are undertaking.

As you well know, crime on the Cape Flats is a huge problem and reforming even one person must be seen as a success. I hope and trust that the authorities are supporting your project and that it will be embraced by more prisoners.

Hopefully your project will help to reduce crime, reverse the culture of violence that exists on the Cape Flats and transform Cape Town and the rest of South Africa into the wonderful country we know it is.
Sadulla Karjiker

I am South African living in the UK at the moment. I cried during both episodes of these correspondent programmes. Joanna is a brave and remarkable woman. I have too many questions to even begin, I would just like to offer Joanne my wholehearted admiration.
Helga , UK

What brave men. Men like these don't deserve to be left to rot. Trying to survive nowadays is no easy task, whichever country you live in. How can I help these men? They both have my deepest admiration, trying as they are to correct what has happened in the past. Please tell them not to give up and follow their hearts.
Gordon Bruce, Scotland

I have thought about these men since watching the first programme many months ago. I'd like to know whether the programme continues in the prison, and how the numbers system has been effected by the release of two such senior leaders. Does the numbers system exist in other prisons? And are people aware of the journey these man are making away from their old lives? Congratulations and I wish you continued success with your extremely inspiring work.
Sharon Reuben, UK

Thank you so much for what you are doing with your Life's Work. It is truly inspiring and offers hope for all of us on this planet. Please could you tell me how I can learn about your techniques and apply them? I would be truly grateful. Congratulations on your courage and compassion.
Annamaria Adams, England

I found this programme moving and inspiring. After living in "white" Cape Town for 10 years I thought I had some idea of the way "coloured" people lived, but this programme revealed the immense difficulty in living a clean life in the middle of such overpoweringly negative influences. The removal of apartheid laws cannot remove the legacy of so many years of every kind of deprivation. It also opened my mind to the way that criminals in the UK struggle to break away from the dominant culture of crime and drugs, even if there is more financial help available to them and their families. Joanna Thomas inspires hope for the "new South Africa".
Margaret Naude

I've just watched the programme 'Killers Coming Home' and I admire you as a person and how lives can be changed by all types of communication, we are all human and we all need to be treated, respected and not labelled. I have to ask you though, were you never scared of the prisoners at any time?
Marina Raghunath, United Kingdom

I believe people like her should be given every support, at least we have someone who's fighting the course as well the way forward to eradicate violence and crime
Ade Otubanjo, England, Bedford

I would imagine you devise a way of helping such killers after getting a clue on the reasons of their action. In your experience, do such killers take their actions for pleasure or in their opinion, for self defence or as a revenge?
Lou Leme, southern Sudan

Raping is a common play in South Africa, but bringing those men back into public life...don¿t you think its trauma.
Himie F. Wesley, USA

With rape and crime endemic in the South African psyche, how can the limited support from people like Joanna make a worthwhile impact on the SA society?
Gareth Parkes, UK

Having done this inspiring work, what's your vision for the prison system in South Africa? What is the one message you hope we will walk away with having seen this documentary? Not a question - Thank you for doing this courageous and inspiring work and sharing it with the world. I was visiting the UK when I saw the first programme and as I watched it, I knew my life's work had just changed. I'll be leading my first workshop in a federal penitentiary in the US in January. Thank you again!
Helen House, USA

Does the hope of being released one day influence the way prison inmates go about their life, and aim to change, to "redeem" themselves? What happens in the head of prisoners who are told they will never go out of jail, or worse, that they will be executed in jail, after spending, sometimes, 20 years in death row (as it has been the case for some inmates in the US)?
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

Just wanted to send you a note to say how much I admire you & the work you do for prison gang members in South Africa. You are truly a wonderful & remarkable person to put yourself in extreme physical danger to try & redeem men who have become so violent & depraved that no-one else would bother. I've watched both the Correspondent programmes about you & your work & have found them both very moving. I fear that Mogamat may not make it but I think Erefaan will. If you see him please wish him the best of luck from me in England. I'm a 6' 2'' 16 stone biker from London & I haven't run from anyone regardless of the odds since I was 11 years old but I had to fight hard not to cry when I saw Erefaan reading the letters from the schoolchildren on last night's programme. I am lucky to have grown up in London with family members who love me so I have had a much more privileged upbringing than the men who you try to help but I do understand their mindset. I'm 37 years old now & have given up drinking & try to avoid places where I might get into fights. I now have my own business & have just bought my own flat but there is still always anger in my heart, I guess it may be there to stay. Thank you for being an inspiration for me to keep on trying to be a better person. I hope you manage to take time out sometimes & enjoy all the good things in life, you certainly deserve them. Good luck in your work & please take care!
Alcuin

I believe that what Joanna Thomas has achieved with Erefaan and Mogamat is truly inspiring. I wanted to ask her in Erefaan's case if people have sought his forgiveness for the wrongs done to him as a little boy? As he has sought forgiveness of others that he has wronged. I believe that when young children are neglected and abused it actually causes brain damage in the areas of the brain dealing with emotions and emotional responses and consequently affects the growth of empathy. Did Joanna find that she was dealing with many such men in Pollsmoor? What part does she think that poverty played in the treatment both men received as little boys?
Gerry Mccormack, UK

I think that it was absolutely marvellous what you did for Erefaan especially, Joanna works with exceptional talent and makes such a difference to the lives led by those who live in the prison. I hope that you change many more lives due to your incredible talent, and it was very heart rendering watching the prisons listen to classical music, and opening up their locked hearts. I think that Erefaan has enormous potential, and he is a complete stunner, I found him very...inspiring...bye bye-faithfully Erefaan--Nicola
Nicky, England

I watched both killers don¿t cry and killers come home I would like congratulate you on the tremendous work you have achieved. It's truly a remarkable program you have started.
Chell, UK

My name is Halla, and I am from London, I am 17 and I would like to comment on Correspondent: I watched the programme that was on BBC and it touched my heart. I have never ever seen such a good thing on television, it showed reality. Normally on television they only show what people want to see. To know that you can change people's lives is something that you have greatly achieved in life. You have made these people's lives worth living, I really want to thank you. I really don't like to see people in misery, watching Correspondent made me think about what is out there.
Halla, UK

I watched the Correspondent programme with great interest yesterday, and felt a great sense of admiration for the two men featured. I would really like to know if they are both still progressing and continuing to change their lives. I think if men such as these can make a change, there is hope for even the most hardened criminals. I was most touched by the response of the children in the school and the letters that they wrote. I hope that this may have an impact on their lives and prevent them from making the same mistakes.
Grainne Smithson, United Kingdom

I watched the Correspondent programme with great interest yesterday, and felt a great sense of admiration for the two men featured. I would really like to know if they are both still progressing and continuing to change their lives. I think if men such as these can make a change, there is hope for even the most hardened criminals. I was most touched by the response of the children in the school and the letters that they wrote. I hope that this may have an impact on their lives and prevent them from making the same mistakes.
Grainne Smithson, United Kingdom

What an extremely disturbing programme. I think Mogamat Benjamin is a menace to society and his family especially. How can a man rape and sodomise his own family and then expect them to embrace him back into their arms. The trauma they endure because of this man is unquestionable. He should be kept well away from them, and the counselling will never work. I was appalled when he stood in front of those school children talking of what could happen to them if they ever ended up in Pollsmoor Prison. I doubt very much they would have given him such a warm welcome had they known he was actually guilty of that very crime. I would be very interested to hear how he is progressing, and if he has managed to stay out of prison.
Sue Hutchinson, England

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