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HELL IN A CELL! Know the prison life in South Africa

Sunday, 17 February 2013 - 9:00am IST


  • Prisons in South Africa have a notorious history of being creaky and overcrowded
  • The most feared prison is Pollsmoor, where Pistorius may have to stay put if convicted. It’s at the Cape Town suburb of Tokai, hosting some of South Africa’s most dangerous criminals and roughest gangsters
  • The prison has a staff of 1,278 and can house 4,336 offenders, but the current inmate population is approximately more than 7,000
  • Gangsterism is rife inside Pollsmoor, with gangs being enormously powerful in the communal cells. Gang rule involves extreme violence, including sexual abuse. It is also said that some members are so tied in to the gang culture that life beyond that is unthinkable for them. Such people would rather confess to a crime they didn’t commit than be free men walking the streets
  • Nelson Mandela was the most famous inmate of Pollsmoor and described it as “the truth of Oscar Wilde’s haunting line about the tent of blue that prisoners call the sky”
  • There are other prisons like C Max, which is specifically designed for violent and disruptive prisoners who have been classified as dangerous, and the Pretoria Central Prison, which was the official site of capital punishment in South Africa, especially during the apartheid era

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