“It would be a sad day … if the impression is created that one law counts for the poor and another for the rich and famous,” Judge Thokozile Masipa told the world last Tuesday when she sentenced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius to five years behind bars. She listened carefully to the testimony of acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise and said she “had no reason to believe SA prisons would not be able to cater to the needs of a disabled person.”
The day before double amputee Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for culpable homicide, Eric Viljoen, a one-legged prosthesis-wearing convicted rapist was preparing to leave Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre, where he has been incarcerated since January this year. According to Viljoen, he has spent the past year fighting prison authorities and begging for a transfer from what he describes as the “worst of the… prisons in which he has done time”
Ruth Hopkins’ recent piece on the Mail & Guardian looks at what has happened (or rather not happened) since the publication of a 12-month investigation into allegations of solitary confinement, electroshocking, and forced injections with anti-psychotic drugs from inmates held at the G4S-run prison, Mangaung, in Bloemfontein.
Seven years ago Thuba Sithole was accused of committing an armed robbery. Two years after that he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in Leeuwkop Prison. But the story uncovered by the Wits Justice Project shows shoddy police work, dodgy eyewitness testimony, a dismissive magistrate and a careless defence lawyer resulted in an innocent man being put behind bars