Oscar’s ‘special’ prison treatment

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 23 Oktober 2014 | 20.01

June Steenkamp has insisted she does not want revenge on Oscar Pistorius after he killed her daughter.

The Kgosi Mampuru II prison ... where Oscar Pistorius will serve at least 10 months. Picture: Getty Images. Source: Getty Images

AS Oscar Pistorius spends his second night behind bars and undergoes prison induction programs the reality for other disabled prisoners in South Africa is not the same.

The Blade Runner was assessed and immediately placed in a single cell in the hospital wing of Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

But other disabled prisoners at the same jail, formerly known as Pretoria Central prison, can only dream about such special treatment.


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Gone to jail ... other disabled prisoners at Pistorius' jail can only dream about the special treatment he is receiving. Picture: Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Like Eric Viljoen, a single amputee with a prosthetic leg. A convicted rapist, he was in Kgosi Mampuru II since January this year and moved on Monday, the day before Pistorius got there.

He told the Wits Justice Program that he was never offered the chance of a single cell in the hospital wing like Pistorius has. Instead he was in an overcrowded cell with 37 other prisoners.

The Wits Justice Program, run out of the Witwatersrand University journalism program, investigates the plight of prisoners in South African jails.

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Special prisoner ... Pistorius has a single cell in the hospital wing, something other disabled prisoners were never offered. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

Robyn Leslie is a researcher with the program and says the experience of disabled prisoners with whom the program has dealt is not that of Pistorius.

"They were not given the option of a single cell as Oscar was. They were not given the option to stay in the hospital wing," Ms Leslie said yesterday.

"Anecdotally it has been our experience there is not such a routine care taken in terms of people who have disabilities," she said.

Locked up ... researchers say disabled prisoners are typically not treated well in South African prisons. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

Ms Leslie said the portrait painted in Pistorius' sentence hearing by the acting head of Correctional Services, of disabled prisoners well treated and a prison system on par with the UK and the US, was not the research program's experience.

"We are concerned about the representation that was provided of the prison system on the whole because by and large that is not our experience."

Pistorius' case was exceptional — from the time of the offence to the trial was only a year and the verdict was 20 months. Prisoners, with no money or means and relying on legal aid lawyers can wait years to get to court.

Alone ... Oscar Pistorius won't get his first visitors until the weekend because visiting hours are only on weekends and public holidays. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

One man waited six years to get court — and almost immediately the Judge threw out the case for lack of evidence.

But Ms Leslie does not believe the profile of the Pistorius case, the first to be televised, will change much for the average South African seeking access to justice.

Prisoners have suggested that Pistorius, because of his fame and profile, will be well-looked after in jail. By and large disabled prisoners are not targeted by able-bodied prisoners.

Pistorius is undergoing an induction program to assess which of the jail's programs and activities he will participate in.

He won't get his first visitors until the weekend because visiting hours are only on weekends and public holidays.

Convicted of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius was this week sentenced to five years jail. But the law under which he was sentenced stipulates that after serving one-sixth of the sentence he could be eligible for release to house arrest. That would be in 10 months time.

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