Durban - Matthew Naidoo, serving two life sentences for the murder of Westville couple Maria and Johannes Lotter in 2008, has been moved to a swanky correctional service centre in Limpopo run by an international company.
Not that he is complaining – the food is tastier, he can move around freely for 11 hours a day and it’s a safe environment.
The only problem is that his mother Rita Naidoo can’t visit him because of the distance.
Naidoo was transferred in November to Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre. South African Custodial Management runs the prison.
Naidoo was sentenced with siblings Nicolette and Hardus Lotter in March last year for the murder of their parents.
They are serving 12 and 10 years respectively.
Naidoo manipulated the siblings into believing he was the third son of God and told them God wanted their parents dead.
Speaking from the centre yesterday, Naidoo said life was much better there but it was too far for his mother to travel.
“My mother visited me twice a month at Westville Prison. She hasn’t been able to visit me here once. I phone her as often as I can, but it is difficult because she is a widow and I am all she has.
“The living conditions are much better. This centre empowers you. You are treated like a human being. There is no gangsterism or access to weapons, drugs or cellphones. It is a lovely place,” he said.
“While it is the same diet, the food here is better prepared. You can actually eat and enjoy it.”
He said the centre was built like a school and was intent on rehabilitating offenders.
“You are encouraged to study. One of my cell mates is studying for his doctorate in theology. We are also free to move around. We are let out of our cell at 6am and are locked up at 5.30pm. We have access to the centre, can go outside to the grounds.”
He is unsure why he was transferred, because he did not apply for a transfer.
The correctional centre on its website states that inmates are kept in individual, double and four-bed cells.
The facility offers structured day programmes, including work, education, training, recreation, physical education and counselling.
Despite his new accommodation, Naidoo is determined to appeal against his conviction and prove his innocence, even if it means going back to Westville Prison.
“I called the clerk of the High Court who deals with appeals to find out about the progress. They told me my legal aid attorney had never lodged the appeal. I was shocked. Two years is a long time to wait, but I am not giving up.”
Naidoo has also registered to vote for the first time and said he would vote for the party that would promote the enforcement of rights of prisoners.
A warder at Kutama Sinthumule yesterday declined to comment on why Naidoo was transferred.
Provincial spokeswoman for the Department of Correctional Services, Nomusa Mkhize, said she could not comment on why Naidoo was transferred.
She said it was not unusual for sentenced offenders to be moved to other prisons. - Sunday Tribune