Oscar Pistorius’ safety could be in jeopardy if he is not granted bail this week and is instead locked
The Paralympian is spending a seventh night behind bars as he awaits a verdict on his application for bail after being accused of murdering his girlfriend model Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutors believe he gunned down the 29-year-old model in cold blood at his luxurious home on Valentine’s Day, while Pistorius claimed he shot her thinking she was an intruder.
Today Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist in the country said: ‘Prison in South Africa is notoriously a very dangerous place.
Spokesman for Correctional Services Department, Koos Gerber has said that Pistorius would be allowed to keep his prosthetic limbs to use in prison, contrary to media reports that he would be forced to use a wheelchair.
But Mr Pieters said: ‘If any person with a disability entered, they would be targeted. I don’t know what sort of facilities they have in prison for handicapped people.’
His assessment highlights why Pistorius’ lawyers are battling to keep the 26-year-old, who won two gold medals and a silver at London’s 2012 Paralympic Games, out of Pretoria Central Prison.
Unhappy home: Clothes hang out of prison cells at the Pretoria Central Prison.The giant facility on the outskirts of the capital crams 17 narrow bunk beds into communal cells measuring around 100ft by 30ft
The giant facility on the outskirts of the capital crams 17 narrow bunk beds into communal cells measuring around 100ft by 30ft.
Inmates are forced to wear bright orange robes, sleep with little or no ventilation and some claim to live in constant fear of violence and rape.
The notorious jail – which was made famous as the location of capital punishment during the apartheid era – is said to be ‘extremely overcrowded’, according to Mr Pieters.
The conditions even led to six prisoners serving sentences at the facility launching a court bid at Pretoria High Court to improve their living arrangements – and ensure they are treated ‘humanely’.
In papers presented before court, they highlighted a number of issues – including violence and poor health care.
They also sought to seek protection from dangerous prisoners.
One young inmate, who was not named, told the judge in a hearing on February 4 at Pretoria High Court that he feared for his life in jail, that he had been raped several times and also contracted HIV.
The youngster spoke of 28 gangsters who force him to join them.
One of the six who brought the case to court, Werner Wessels was quoted in a statement saying: ‘They [gangsters] want to have sex with me and threaten to stab me if I tell the officials.
‘Drugs are freely obtainable in jail and I have a serious drug problem, for which I do not get help.’
Dark: Stories from the prison paints a dark picture of the life behind bars potentially facing Pistorius
Wouter Viljoen, another of the six inmates, said in a statement before court that he had to make do with dirty mattresses and no bedding.
He also said inmates were locked up for 18 hours a day in cells with no ventilation and that they battle to sleep in the heat.
Viljoen and the five other complainants – Stephen Fourie, Jabu Dube, Johannes Lentswe, Kgabu Mosala and Wessels – said they hadn’t been medically examined to determine whether they suffered from diseases.
They also claimed in statements that the main reason prisoners contract diseases in jail was due to the lack of health care services.
Their case has been postponed indefinitely, but the judge said the application was of constitutional importance.
The case paints a dark picture of the life behind bars potentially facing Pistorius in the countries prisons.
It is feared his celebrity status in South Africa could also lead to him being targeted and threatened by inmates hoping to extract money.
Pieters said: ‘Everybody knows who he is. You are going to have one lot targeting him for money and then maybe even others offering him protection for money.
One major issue is overcrowding, with the most recent records, compiled by the International Centre for Prison Studies in April 2012, showing the overall prison population in South Africa stood at 156,659 – compared to just 83,999 in England and Wales.
Pieters added: ‘Pretoria Central is a very large prison with a women’s section, another for convicted offenders and a facility for those awaiting trial.
‘That later section is extremely crowded.
‘The prison authorities will have to make very difficult decisions – where they are going to put him and how they are going to house him?’
by Jill Reilly for The Daily Mail