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The inmate ‘advocate’ who advises clients from behind bars - for a pack of fags

By Naledi Shange | 2017-04-28 07:10:19.0

Lawyers operate from court rooms or offices‚ but “Advocate” advises his clients from behind bars where he is serving time.

An inmate at the Boksburg Prison‚ he pens documents which get the ball rolling for fellow prisoners to launch appeals. Some have even managed to walk out of their prison’s gates through his assistance‚ he says.

“I have a beautiful track record. I once assisted someone who was sentenced to 18 years to successfully appeal. He had spent three years already in jail‚” Advocate said during a telephone conversation from a payphone of the prison.

He says he got his nickname from other convicts‚ about 20 of whom consult him each month.

His services aren’t paid for in cash‚ but in cigarettes.

“I charge four packs of 20 cigarettes. And one pack is about R22 in here‚” Advocate says.

Once a prisoner successfully files their papers through a lawyer‚ he charges them two more packs of cigarettes to prepare the documents they may need for the appeal.

Advocate says many prisoners believe they have been failed by their Legal Aid lawyers.

“If prisoners had proper legal representation‚ at least 70% of them wouldn’t be in here‚” he asserts.

He shies away from answering questions on why he is incarcerated but says he hopes to start an organisation which will focus on the plight of prisoners.

“The biggest problem is people don’t have the ‘know-how’ and this can result in them only launching an appeal years after they have been incarcerated. That is where I come in. They pay me to get the process going‚” Advocate says.