Letter: Cell party harks back to old SA
After two of the so-called “Waterkloof Four” were filmed partying in a prison cell on the eve of their release on parole, Italo Castagnetti is disgusted that bribes can mean convicted felons living it up in the slammer.
I have been appalled at all aspects of the Waterkloof Four’s heinous murder, their lenient sentencing, and now the last straw has been the early release of Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez, then their subsequent arrest for allegedly partying while still in prison.
The unsavoury saga bears all the characteristics of the old South Africa.
Four racist white yobos ruthlessly taking the life of an indigent man by beating and kicking him to death without later showing the slightest remorse.
The Department of Correctional Services, a name which is actually a gross misnomer, has a lot to answer for and indeed, the whole justice system needs to be put under the magnifying glass so as to effect urgent reform.
The YouTube visuals we saw indicate the wild party was not an isolated occurrence in the prison.
The computer prominently seen in the cell clearly shows that the Waterkloof felons had been living the high life for an extended period.
The prison authorities mustn’t insult our intelligence and attempt to whitewash the glaring prison corruption and mismanagement.
It is inconceivable that warders weren’t alerted to all the rapturous revelry in the party cell.
Can we assume that every warder is involved in corrupt activities at that prison?
We want to see warders’ heads roll and the Waterkloof Two back in prison.
The television pictures showing the smirking, obviously well-fed, coiffured and nattily groomed Waterkloof Two leaving prison to an ecstatic hero’s welcome from their friends, aptly illustrate the lack of remorse from the unrehabilitated duo and their mindless welcoming committee. It is crystal clear that nothing much has changed since the celebrity jailbirds Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie smuggled a camera into Grootvlei Prison and filmed shocking footage of similar shenanigans, fully aided and abetted by corrupt prison officials.
The message was that the well-greased palms of warders could buy virtually any favours for the inmates.
The subsequent Jali Commission of Inquiry into prison maladministration in 2002 tabled shocking revelations and made important recommendations for prison reform.
Obviously Judge Thabane Jali’s recommendations have fallen on deaf ears as evidenced by the brazen antics of these two, which, I have no doubt, was not an isolated occurrence.
One of the prime problems is the lack of any strong oversight at the various government institutions.
We have just seen the result of many years of ineffective controls with the damning release of the public protector’s report on SABC corruption and mismanagement.
The Parliamentary oversight portfolio committees seem to be mere toothless lap poodles.
Where were the senior prison officers at Kgosi Mampuru Prison while all the raucous revelry was taking place under the eyes of their junior ranks?
Few have any faith in the justice system or prison regime when a judge deems it appropriate to hand down a particularly harsh prison sentence for a terrible blood-chilling crime, then the prison authorities see fit to halve the period of incarceration.
At one time, a life sentence meant serving a full 25 years without the prospect of parole, but I believe the government has surreptitiously watered that down.
Today, prisoners convicted of the most horrific murders and rapes also benefit from early release on parole, posing a danger to other vulnerable citizens.
Everyone knows a leopard can’t change its spots and that is born out by the exceptionally high criminal recidivism rate.
The public wants to see justice fairly administered in our courts, and civilised humane incarceration in our prisons, but justice must be seen to be done with an appropriate punishment which is also a sufficient deterrent to other aspirant thugs.
* The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Newspapers.