Life in a South African Prison

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.

Grim: Oscar Pistorius' safety could be in jeopardy if he is not granted bail and is locked up at one of South Africa's most feared prisons, according a top criminologistGrim: Oscar Pistorius’ safety could be in jeopardy if he is not granted bail and is locked up at one of South Africa’s most feared prisons, according to a top criminologis
Fear: One of South Africa's top criminologists, Laurie Pieters, has said she fears for Pistorius' safety should he be locked up in Pretoria Central PrisonFear: Inmates crouch and line up during a drug raid at Pretoria Central Prison. Pistorius is spending a seventh night behind bars as he awaits a verdict on his application for bail
Raid: A prison cell inside the Pretoria Central Prison during a surprise raid by prison officials checking for drugs and other contraband Raid: A prison cell inside the Pretoria Central Prison during a surprise raid by prison officials checking for drugs and other contraband

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.

Hunched: The men in the prison crouch as a warden passes them in the prison corridor after a surprise drug raid Hunched: The men in the prison crouch as a warden passes them in the prison corridor after a surprise drug raid

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 30ftUnhappy 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

Double amputee: Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist said 'If any person with a disability entered, they would be targeted'Double amputee: Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist said ‘If any person with a disability entered, they would be targeted’

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.’

Notorious jail : It which was made famous as the location of capital punishment during the apartheid era - is said to be 'extremely overcrowded'Notorious jail : It which was made famous as the location of capital punishment during the apartheid era – is said to be ‘extremely overcrowded’
Target: It is feared his celebrity status in South Africa could also lead to him being targeted and threatened by inmates hoping to extract moneyTarget: It is feared his celebrity status in South Africa could also lead to him being targeted and threatened by inmates hoping to extract money
member of the Department of Correctional Services on the roo
Pretoria Central Prison showing an inmate's uniform left for drying

Dark: Stories from the prison  paints a dark picture of the life behind bars potentially facing Pistorius

Everyday life: Washing hung up to dry inside a cell Everyday life: Washing hung up to dry inside a cell
Claims: 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 HIVClaims: 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

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.

Full house: The giant facility on the outskirts of the capital crams 17 narrow bunk beds into communal cells measuring around 100ft by 30ftFull house: The giant facility on the outskirts of the capital crams 17 narrow bunk beds into communal cells measuring around 100ft by 30ft
Warning: Laurie Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist, said: 'Prison in South Africa is notoriously a very dangerous place'Warning: South Africa’s prison population is a staggering 37,700 over the official capacity of the countries 241 institutions

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.

 ‘He comes from privilege, so how is he going to adapt to that? He already looks broken in court.’
Danger: A knife found during a cell raid. Mr 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'Danger: A knife found during a cell raid. Mr 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’
Life in prison: A photograph of a graffiti on a prison cell wall inside Pretoria Central Prison in PretoriaLife in prison: A photograph of a graffiti on a prison cell wall inside Pretoria Central Prison in Pretoria

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.

 And according to the same report, South Africa’s prison population was a staggering 37,700 over the official capacity of the countries 241 institutions at the time.

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

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. All this fuss over Oscar my dream will come true if Oscar will use his money and to have a heart for thouse offenders that is abuse within the Correctional System. The Department of Correctional Services recieve R18.7 Billion to Detain and Rehabilitate offenders placed in their care but alway’s have the excuse of overcrowding infrustructor and their budget. We have the best Contitution, Act 108 of 1996 in the World but it is only on paper. We have the best Correctional Services Act, Act 111 of 1998 read with the White Paper on Corrections in South Africa but this also just on paper. The High Court of South Africa is not prepare to make a Judgement on this issues and one understand that no Judge can make an order that can not implemented. So as long as there is no law governing imprisonment things only is going to get worst.

    The Community that want their wrong doers to rot in prison, wake up becase although offenders is prosecuted and sentenced they must be released again after serving their sentence, the golden Qeustion remains “HOW DO YOU WANT YOU OFFENDER TO BE RELEASED, WORST OR A BETTER PERSON THAT WILL NOT COMMIT ANOTHER OFFENCE. Your incometax is used to keep you safe and you have a part of that R18.7 Billion the Department of Correctional Servises recieve yearly, but this money do you want it to keep you safe only for the period your offender must serve in prison or do you want this money to keep you safe even after your offender is released.

    Wouter Viljoen

  2. so cause me i have never been in prison but i would like to experience a prison life” so what must i do to experience without doing a crime and am a guy?

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