Oscar Pistorius getting 'special' treatment over other disabled prisoners in same jail

Paralympics runner Oscar Pistorius is getting a different treatment than other disabled prisoners in the same South African jail, according to a researcher.

Oscar Pistorius getting 'special' treatment over other disabled prisoners in same jail

Sydney: Paralympics runner Oscar Pistorius is getting a different treatment than other disabled prisoners in the same South African jail, according to a researcher.

As Pistorius spent his second night behind bars and underwent prison induction programs, the reality for other disabled prisoners in South Africa is not the same. He was assessed and immediately placed in a single cell in the hospital wing of Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

However, other disabled prisoners at the same jail, formerly known as Pretoria Central prison, can only dream about such special treatment, News.com.au reported.

Like Eric Viljoen, who is a single amputee with a prosthetic leg and a convicted rapist, was in Kgosi Mampuru II since January this year and moved on Monday, the day before Pistorius got there. He told the Wits Justice Program that he was never offered the chance of a single cell in the hospital wing like Pistorius was and instead he was in an overcrowded cell with 37 other prisoners.

The Wits Justice Program, run out of the Witwatersrand University journalism program, investigates the plight of prisoners in South African jails. Robyn Leslie , who is a researcher with the program, said that the experience of disabled prisoners with whom the program has dealt is not that of Pistorius.

Leslie said that the other prisoners were not given the option of a single cell as Pistorius was, adding that they were not given the option to stay in the hospital wing.

However, Leslie said that the portrait painted in Pistorius' sentence hearing by the acting head of Correctional Services, that shows disabled prisoners being well treated and a prison system on par with the UK and the US, was not the research program's experience.

She said that they are concerned about the representation that was provided of the prison system on the whole because by and large that is not their experience.

Pistorius' case was exceptional, the time of the offence to the trial was only a year and the verdict took 20 months to be delivered. Prisoners, with no money or means and relying on legal aid lawyers can wait years to get to court.

One man waited six years to get court and almost immediately the Judge threw out the case for lack of evidence. But Leslie does not believe that the profile of the Pistorius case, the first to be televised, would change much for the average South African seeking access to justice.

Pistorius, who was convicted of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, was this week sentenced to five years jail, but the law under which he was sentenced stipulates that after serving one-sixth of the sentence he could be eligible for release to house arrest and that would be in 10 months time, the report added.

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