Durban - Former President Jacob Zuma’s incarceration at the state-of-the-art Estcourt Correctional Centre has meant he avoided the crowded and dilapidated conditions most prisoners were subjected to in South Africa.
Zuma arrived at the fairly new, R387 million correctional facility to start his 15-month sentence in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The facility, which opened about two years ago, consists of two units, with a capacity to accommodate 512 inmates.
It also has a hospital section, training centre, maintenance workshop, logistics and other support structures.
Golden Miles Bhudu, the spokesperson for the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR), said the former statesman was “definitely” given the best of a bad situation when he was allowed to serve his jail time at the Estcourt Correctional Centre.
“I mean the prison is state-of-the-art. He is definitely not being kept in the belly of the beast,” Bhudu said.
According to Bhudu, the facility’s ultra-modern hospital is most likely where Zuma would spend his incarceration as the hospital has single cells and medical staff available 24-hours.
“The hospital is also not overcrowded and, with the former president’s age and ill health, that would be the most probable place he would be kept in,” Bhudu said.
The prison also boasts a state-of-the-art residential facility for its employees.
However, Bhudu said it was “most definitely” possible that Zuma could be moved to one of those cottages sometime during his incarceration.
“The Department of Correctional Services operates with a veil of secrecy, so you will never know who is using those cottages,” he said.
When the Estcourt Correctional Centre was opened in 2019, then minister of justice and correctional services Michael Masutha said the government was doing what it could to improve conditions under which inmates were held.
“Correctional Services has a mandate to create a humane system, where the weakest inmates feel safe, where all are treated with respect, where all inmates are meaningfully occupied and expected to improve themselves, where inmates can strengthen links with their families and prepare for release,” said Masutha at that time.