An adventurous trip to Africa goes wrong for one student.

By Joanna Jones

Linda Fellowes was in shock. The awful reality of what had hit her was just beginning to sink in. She was going to spend the next months in some fetid African womens’ gaol, all for some crime that she was entirely innocent of. She felt utterly alone; there seemed to be no-one around to help her.

She and her friend Natalie were both doing the same course at University in Sydney. They had decided to take the Australian summer vacation to do a trip around Africa, which her parents had not been too sure of, but she was old enough to make her own decisions and she was going with a friend.

Two days ago, her travelling companion had woken suffering with a dose of diarrhoea and stomach cramps, and by evening they’d had to get medical help. The doctor had given her some medicine and suggested two days bed-rest to recover.

Her friend had suggested she took the trip up-river to the town she’d wanted to visit, spend an overnight in the backpackers’ hostel there that they’d booked anyway, and come back. She would be okay, as here in the capital there was enough support; there were plenty of girls in the hostel rooms if she needed anything, and she knew the doctor to phone if she did not get better soon.

Linda had made sure Natalie had plenty of water and light food that evening, then the following morning had set off to the crowded ferry that went to the next town upstream, famous for still looking as it would have done hundreds of years ago. Up to that point, she had been very much enjoying her trip in Africa; all the novel smells and various cultural ways were an intoxicating mix.

It was while browsing around the market that afternoon that it all had gone horribly wrong.

Suddenly a policeman had stopped her and accused her of having stolen some food from one of the stalls. She had done no such thing, but equally suddenly a stall holder was confirming the accusation.

She had panicked and tried to run. That just made it worse as the policeman easily caught hold of her.

“Right, you can either pay an on-the-spot fine of 100 dollars, and 100 dollars compensation to the stall you stole from, or you go to the police station.” The man had said, with a rather nasty leer on his face.

Linda had looked in disbelief; it was a con, she had been set up! Looking back on it, she should have accepted it, gone to the bank and perhaps just bargained them down. However, her ire had got the better of her, and she had refused, indeed gone as far as to tell the policeman what she thought of corrupt bastards like him. The station, she had said, would be fine.

Both the men’s faces had darkened, but after a brief word between them in a language she did not understand, a nasty look had come across the officer, and he had hand-cuffed her and roughly pushed her the couple of hundred yards to the station.

There, she had had her stuff rifled though and things had suddenly got much more serious. They had produced a small amount of white powder that had never been there, and accused her of being a druggie. The superintendent told her she would need to pay a fine of 1000 dollars as well as the 200 dollars or go to court, and that would mean gaol. This was money she did not have! She had asked for a lawyer, to see the Australian Consul. Instead they had just laughed at her and locked her up for the court session the following morning.

After spending the night in a hot, fetid cell with three other women, none of whom spoke English, she had felt dirty and awful. They had slept in their clothes on some thin mat on the floor and the only other item in the cell was a bucket in the corner for their bodily functions. The place stank. What little sleep she had managed to get had been fitful. In the morning she had been still in shocked disbelief at what had happened. Once woken, they had been given some porridge-like substance slopped into a bowl for breakfast. It tasted as bad as it looked. Later they were taken one-by-one to a small room where a small basin of water had been provided for her to wash her hands and face before the short ride to the courthouse.

At the court she had found there was no lawyer, no Australian consul. After an hour alone in a, thankfully, relatively cool cell in the basement of the courthouse she had finally been brought upstairs in hand-cuffs to the court itself. The judge asked the policeman his side of events in the local language; there was no translator either. The stall-keeper then appeared and again gave his evidence in the local language. He had glared vindictively at her as he stood down. Finally the superintendent gave his story. The only thing she understood in his evidence was that the small package with its white substance was something he claimed to have found on her. Finally the judge had asked her in passable English what had happened. She had told the truth, and realised that had been in all probability a mistake as his face darkened at the end.

His decision? She was accused of thievery and a drug offence which were serious enough, indeed she was lucky the amount was small and could only be for personal use, otherwise she would be in real trouble, and he would have had to send her to a higher court. However, she was in trouble enough, he had said. What aggravated the case for him was her clear lack of remorse and the malicious accusations of police corruption. He had heard the evidence and she was guilty. His sentence, given the aggravating circumstances, had been three months in prison, close to the maximum he could award!

Linda remembered the total shock at hearing that, remembered starting crying and begging, begging him to listen to the truth. However, the judge told her coldly she had the right of appeal to a higher court, but that would take a few months at the earliest. With that he had sent her down.

She had been dragged, struggling and screaming back down into the cells in the courthouse.

Which was where she was now. The struggle was now out of her, the tears flowed silently down her face. Three months in some gaol, which she feared might be even worse than the police cell she’d been in. Some of the stories she’d heard about African incarceration, well she hoped they were not true.

After an hour that policeman came in with his horrid leer. There was an alternative, he said.

Despite the contempt she had for the man, she listened as he outlined that ‘alternative’. If she admitted the offence then she could get a local punishment used to keep the prisons from not being too overcrowded, so he said. To get it she needed to sign an admission, then she could opt for a caning, which would be carried out immediately. After a while to rest she would be able to go.

Linda thought for a few minutes. She remembered the cane at school well enough, seeing boys hobbling back into class usually struggling not to cry rather than actually crying. The two girls she’d seen getting it had been sobbing after. They said it had been awful, indescribably painful. However, they had lived, and seemed mostly back to normal after a day or two, if remaining a little subdued for a while. Compared to three months incarcerated in some hellhole that passed for a prison here that seemed very much the preferable option.

“This, this caning, wh-what does it involve?” She stammered despondently.

“Simple, you sign paper, you bare bottom, bend over. I whack six times, police super give you six too.”

“Twelve!” She exclaimed. “Twelve is an awful lot!”

“You not little girl anymore.” He replied, and then, seeing her reluctance said: “Okay, maybe prison best for you!”

With that he started to walk out.

Linda panicked. “No, no, I’ll take the caning.”

The policeman gave another sickening leer. “Back soon!” He replied.

Twenty minutes later he turned up with his boss, who pulled a three foot straight cane out from half under his jacket and trousers as if he’d been hiding it. He pulled the door to as he came in, though leaving it unlocked.

A piece of paper was produced and a pen. Linda looked at the unfamiliar words, clearly in the local language, and could not read a work of it. However, when it was clear; sign or go to prison, she had no choice and finally took the paper, placed it on hard bench that was supposed to provide some sort of bed and signed it.

Once done she received another nasty leer from the policeman, along with a rather lascivious lick of the lips from his superintendent.

“Get your clothes off then, strip!” Smiled the policeman lecherously.

She looked in horror at him, but she knew she was now defeated. He had won. Nervously she took off her dress with its long thin cotton skirt, deliberately chosen so as not to expose too much leg to not offend some local sensibilities, before sliding her knickers down her legs and off.

Finally she turned to face them with her hands modestly clasped in front of her.

“That too!” Interrupted the superintendent, pointing with his cane at her bra.

Linda stared miserably at them but knew she had gone too far to go back now. Turning away again she unclasped the bra and plopped it with the dress and knickers on the bench.

She was now completely naked. Using her hands to cover herself she once again turned to face her tormentors; and was immediately told to put her hands on her head.

Taking a breath she closed her eyes and did so.

When she opened them a few moments later she could see them staring unashamedly at her naked body, and in particular at the light brown hair between her legs. No doubt her pale white body was very different to that of the local women, who seemed to be a cosmopolitan mix of colours from quite dark to middle eastern in complexion. Given the town’s historical reputation as a trading centre between the north and south of the continent it was not that surprising. However, for Linda she just felt sick as she wondered how much more they would see when she bent over.

Her embarrassment was short lived. The policemen pulled out some (thankfully apparently clean) fabric and a rope, forced the material into her mouth and tied the thin rope at the back of her head, effectively gagging her. Seconds later she had been told to bend over and grasp her ankles, being forced to stare into the bucket in the corner as that was about the only location in the cell that could allow the men a good swing. As she stared into it she was glad the bucket, while hardly clean, was at least unused. As he heard the sounds of the older man preparing she squeezed her eyes shut to block out as much of what was happening as she could.

There was a swish and crack as the superintendent whipped the cane down hard right across the middle of her rump.

The result was devastating for Linda and she attempted to scream against the gag. There was no way anything could block that sort of pain out. She had no idea anything could hurt so badly. As she tried to stand the younger policeman grabbed her and put his body across her back at ninety degrees, the buttons of his jacket rubbing roughly on her bare back. He then put one arm over her neck and shoulder and the other under her body, clasping his hands more or less over her naked bosom. The unpleasant smell of his body odour pervaded her nose.

However, that smell was as nothing compared to the pain she experienced as the superintendent carried on with her punishment, methodically whipping the rod he had across her buttocks five more times, working from the top of the target to near the bottom. Each time she convulsed throwing her head back, trying to scream against the gag in her mouth. Each time the arms of the policeman restrained her.

She felt nauseous as the policeman’s hands briefly dragged themselves lightly over her bare breasts touching her sensitive nipples as he let go of her. However, before she could try to stand the superintendent’s body was restraining her. He was less discreet than his junior, with his wandering fingers taking an unwelcome opportunity to get a good idea of the shape of her bosom as he did so. She felt utterly violated, but there was nothing she could do.

Then the caning started again. Each cut of the cane that the younger man gave was awful, causing her body to jerk forwards and upwards on each impact. At one point she opened her glazed eyes to stare into the bucket beneath her. She felt she might actually be physically sick into it.

The superintendent found her easier to hold as the energy to fight against the pain seemed to weaken with each blow his junior gave.

The only consolation in her agony was something she did not know it at the time. At least the officer was accurate with the implement, laying them on pretty neatly between the gaps his superior had left. That of course took nothing away from the dreadful pain, the last two were right at on the crease of her buttocks and utterly excruciating.

Finally she was let go, with another sickening fondle of her breasts being made as the older man released her.

Still gagged, immediately she stood, her hands going to probe the mass of raised ridges on her rear. She was sobbing in pain and humiliation as she faced the two victorious men. In her pain, her embarrassment at being naked was gone. The men had now seen everything she had in any case. That did not stop either of them admiring her breasts bob up and down as she tried to cope with what her bottom was screaming at her.

Slowly, sobbing quietly to herself she dressed, consoling herself that she would soon be able to escape this hell, get back to Natalie, albeit a day late. She would somehow phone the hostel tonight to let her know. Then she wanted nothing more than to get out of this country, never to return.

Finally the men ungagged her allowing her to now moan softly as she gently cradled her bum over her dress. The superintendent slipped the cane part down his trousers again and put his jacket on to cover it up and then telling her to recover before her release they left her.

Linda did not hear their guffaws as they shared some joke as they left.

Two hours later a burly female woman in an unfamiliar uniform came in to collect her. A relief surged through her; she was finally to be released!

However, oddly she found her hands cuffed in front of herself and she was pushed out of the door. Confused, she wondered if she was to be somehow formally released at the door of the courthouse.

It was as she reached the foyer and the woman told her in her simple English to get in the van that clearly already held five hand-cuffed local woman for the trip to the gaol that she realised what was happening.

She lost control, tried to struggle free, shouted she was to be let go, she’d taken her punishment, that the police had caned her. However, her statements were not just ignored but angrily dealt with by the burly woman who took a short thick leather strap from her waist and whipping her round cracked it hard across her dress clad backside.

Linda screamed as the pain of a couple of hours previously reactivated. The thin dress and knickers made absolutely no difference given the tender state her bottom was already in.

The burly prison warder cracked the strap down a second time and then a third as she shouted at Linda to stop her disgusting lies, she was a disgusting, cowardly, convicted drug addict thief. Roughly she told Linda she was going nowhere until her punishment was served, and she was a disgrace, with her lies about those police officers.

With a fourth crack landing on her rear she found herself manhandled into the van and forced, sobbing, to sit on her pained bottom on the hard van bench with the angry warder opposite her, her strap ready to dole out more agony to the now broken young woman should that be required.

Linda’s last sight as the van doors closed was of the two policemen laughing together as they stood watching.

*     *     *     *


Fortunately for Linda her ordeal did not last the three months, nor even three further days.

It was the prison nurse that evening, carrying out the medical inspection who could not help but note the mess of cane marks on her bottom. She called the equivalent of the governor of the gaol. She was a middle aged woman who had got the job through a family connection.

The governor looked worried. To be honest she did not care about the excesses of the police, which she had seen and ignored often enough. However, she had also heard of the chaos that could be caused when the government of one of these so-called wealthy countries got involved in a case with publicity. In fact she knew of a former governor of one of the men’s prisons, who’d suddenly found himself on the other side of the bars after the foreign media starting investigating a couple of incidents that should not have happened to an American inmate. The press could be even more intrusive if it was a woman that was the apparent victim. She wanted nothing to do with all those risks. For one thing she was very happy in her job as, while the pay was not great, there were plenty of opportunities for her to choose what to turn a blind eye to if the price was right. These were all things a foreigner could seriously interfere with if investigations started, highly likely if it got out she had been illegally caned and there was any question she might be involved. Finally the nurse was on some rota from the hospital. As a result she was the only member of staff she had no handle on to keep her quiet should that be necessary.

She made her decision, decided to listen to Linda’s explanation of how she’d come by those cane strokes, which had clearly been given too recently not to have been in some form of custody. After Linda was held in the spartan medical cell overnight, though significantly better than the accommodation most of her inmates experienced. For Linda it was still awful as she lay exhausted on her stomach still believing despondently that this breeze block complex of buildings would be her home for the next months. 

However, the following day, late in the morning, an Australian Consul arrived at the cell door. When he told her he was taking her back to the capital, her entire body started shaking in disbelief, then as she realised it really was true she burst into tears. A few hours later she was checked in to a hotel that was far better than she could really afford, finding a somewhat recovered Natalie waiting for her. Her friend listened in shock to her story, and looked appalled when Linda showed her the results to her bottom of her solo adventure.

As for the story, the whole thing was brushed under the carpet. The consul said that they had a deal with the local authorities where her ‘confession’ would be forgotten about as long as she kept quiet. It was, he agreed, not ideal. A woman in the embassy took pictures of her bottom, and told her they would be used to ensure leverage at their end.

Linda and Natalie met some junior government official the following day before flying back home to Australia. He gave some cryptic apology about what had happened, and confirmed that the confession would ‘disappear’ as long as she remained quiet.

“What about those two policemen?” Linda asked.

The official shrugged. “On your case we can do nothing, so we’ll do nothing. But you know there are so many ways to catch people like them when we want.”

He gave funny smile as he continued. “And, don’t worry, we do want to now. People like them are bad for our economy. We want tourists to come.”

With that Linda had to be satisfied.

The End

© Joanna Jones 2013