Marché Arends

Writer and editor based in Cape Town.

Thabo Bester saga reveals the dangers in South Africa's prison privatization | Semafor

This story is really about the dismal state of South Africa's prisons and the dangers of poorly considered privatization. The local media has seized on the Bonnie and Clyde narrative. That’s understandable — it's juicy and, as more details emerge, increasingly bizarre. But, on closer examination, the story raises questions about the safety and effectiveness of the private sector's role in running the country’s penitentiaries.

Privilege in a time of civil unrest

I sit here writing this from my house in Muizenberg, Cape Town. The heater is on, I am wrapped up in warm clothes and I am watching videos of the ongoing violence in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, shaking my head.

This is one of the highest levels of privilege.

Sure, I belong to a historically disadvantaged group and on the hierarchy of marginalisation I rank pretty high up. I am a brown woman in a country that has suppressed and oppressed black and brown women for centuries.

Walking down the street is an act of courage

When I was 13 years old, I started walking home from school. As soon as my talking, brown leather shoes hit the ground outside the school gates, however, I wasn’t 13 anymore.

I was guarded, suspicious and afraid. Walking down the street as a woman, of any age, can be a traumatic experience.

One particular day when I was walking home, jaw clenched, hands rolled into fists, eyes darting around corners, I saw a man leaning against a waist-high wall.

The vice grip in my stomach tightened.

The word fat is a descriptor that holds no moral value

Picture this: you have a sharp pain in your shoulder. It’s been plaguing you for a few days, so you decide to see a doctor. You explain what’s wrong and the doctor puts you on a scale. After a brief examination, the doctor suggests that you lose some weight.

Has this ever happened to you? Well, it happened to me.

Navigating this world in a fat body is like navigating a minefield. Only instead of landmines, we are confronted with fat-phobic medical professionals, a love life filled with fetish

Remanded and Forgotten: The fate of South Africa’s prisoners who have not yet been tried

Remand detainees are people who have been arrested, have been refused or cannot afford bail, and are awaiting the start or completion of their trial. South Africa currently has 41,717 people in remand, making up nearly one third of the country’s total prison population, according to the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) 2014/2015 Annual Report. By MARCHE ARENDS for Wits Justice Project.

Imagine being locked alone in a space no larger than a small bathroom for 23 hours a day. A window n

Special report: Non-lethal weapons or torture tools?

Every day, South African police officers and prison wardens go to work, armed with legal tools that can be used to torture. Electric shock devices, tonfas, pepper spray and rubber bullets are classified as non-lethal weapons and therefore are assumed to be a safer alternative to guns. But the Omega Research Foundation (Omega) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) warned during a conference last week that they can be potentially lethal tools of torture. By RUTH HOPKINS and MARCHÉ ARENDS.

Life, Interrupted: Hundreds of inmates consider legal action over parole delays

Maladministration within Correctional Services has become so pervasive that many prisoners serving life sentences now feel that approaching the courts is the only way to achieve redress. By MARCHÉ ARENDS.

Zonderwater prison inmate Charles Baloyi, who has spent 23 years behind bars, might have been incarcerated for almost a decade longer than necessary because of maladministration by prison officials relating to his parole.

However, Baloyi is not alone. More than 200 life-sentenced inmates from

Dear teacher: why did you make me fear sex?

MARCHE ARENDS has learnt a lot about virginity since leaving school – it’s about many things, but purity is not one of them. She has a few words for her teacher, and the rest of society, who preach otherwise.

When I was in high school my teacher once stood in front of the class holding two pieces of paper – one white and one red.

“Look how perfect these two pieces are. They’re clean and unbroken and pure, aren’t they?” he asked. We nodded our heads, like good little girls. He applied a thick c