Pretoria - The size of the cell is about the length of a single bed. There’s barely enough space to turn around and only the bare essentials are fitted into the room.
This is the type of cell both Oscar Pistorius and Radovan Krejcir spent time in at the Kgosi Mampuru II correctional centre.
The tiny bed is covered in a blue sheet and opposite the bed is what looks like a cabinet, small enough to store toiletries and tiny items.
Attached to the wall facing the door is a small silver basin.
There are blue cotton curtains high up on the wall. High enough so the inmate cannot see what may be going on outside. The yellow walls bring a much needed dose of light to an otherwise depressing building.
Pistorius and Krejcir were the prison’s most famous inmates during the time they were incarcerated. The former athlete spent a year of his five-year term in the prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Krejcir was recently found guilty of kidnapping, drug dealing and attempted murder and spent some time in the prison before being transferred. A wall separated the two inmates.Their cells were situated in the hospital wing of the prison, since Pistorius is a double amputee and Krejcir suffers from various illnesses.
Pistorius and Krejcir also shared a bathroom, along with other inmates on that floor.
The bathroom is bigger than the cells the inmates sleep in and has one white bath. There are rails fitted for the inmates to use if their balance is not steady. The bathroom has a concrete floor which is not fitted with any tiling. Those are the only prominent features of the room.
The media were given unprecedented access to the prison, even allowing cellphones and cameras inside.
“Some of the reports (on prisons) are not from an informed position. And we also realised that the media should have an insight into what we do and our operations and the programmes that we render as a department,” said Mandla Mkhabela, acting regional commissioner at the Gauteng Department of Correctional Services.
The inmates are given one hour a day for exercise and can spend the rest of the day, either in their cells, or consulting with a visiting social worker, or doing other activities that will assist in their rehabilitation.
The media tour included a look around the various workshops where the inmates, depending on how long their sentences are, can get training and certificates in carpentry, mechanical work, electrical work and the like.
Mkhabela stressed that Pistorius did not receive special attention as was reported in the media and was treated like any other inmate who had special needs.
“Oscar was the first double amputee we had in the department. We never gave him special treatment but we treated him according to the needs he had,” Mkhabela said.
He added that Pistorius was allowed the same privileges as other inmates, such as an hour for exercise.
“Kgosi Mampuru II almost became Oscar Mampuru. It is not about one offender. We have 35 000-plus offenders. We cannot spend all of our time and efforts on one offender,” Mkhabela added.
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