'At unlock' every morning (to use the prison parlance) there are approximately 120,000 people in prison in South Africa, with its population of 35 million. Britain, in comparison, has a daily prison population of 55,000 for a total population of 57 million - proportionally one-fourth of the South African figure. This depressing reality of an inordinate number of South Africans having become criminalized as the result of an unjust political system is further compounded by the detention of about 73,000 people under Emergency regulations since the first State of Emergency in 1960- 32,000 in the period between 12 June 1985 and September 1988 alone. How South Africa became what Breyten Breytenbach calls 'the land of banning, censorship, prison' has been documented with varying degrees of candour and necessary masking in an ever-growing body of prison writing. The experience of detention and imprisonment is a major determinant of literary production in South Africa today.
Jacobs, J U., Confession, Interrogation and Self-interrogation in the New South African Prison Writing, Kunapipi, 13(1), 1991.