PRETORIA (AFP) – Oscar Pistorius, serving a five-year jail sentence for killing his girlfriend, turns 28 on Saturday – his first birthday behind bars, and a world away from his former life as a jet-setting celebrity.
Like the other convicted criminals in South African jails, the double-amputee track star is unlikely to get any special treatment at Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru prison.
“I think his privileges at the moment are still very limited because he just started,” said Piet du Plessis, a Johannesburg-based lawyer representing Radovan Krejcir, a notorious Czech fugitive being held in the same prison as Pistorius.
Due to his physical disability, Pistorius is being held in the hospital ward of the prison, shielding him from the often brutal overcrowded cells, known for gang violence.
According to the department of correctional services, he is allowed five one-hour-long visits per month, and may receive cards for special occasions.
But despite experiencing a prison life relatively easy compared to that of the country’s 160,000 other prisoners, Du Plessis was adamant that the athlete’s birthday wouldn’t be a happy one.
There is currently uncertainty over his prison term, as the state is appealing his conviction and “shockingly light” sentence.
He said he shot the 29-year-old model four times through a locked bathroom door because he thought she was an intruder. He was found guilty of culpable homicide, escaping a harsher murder conviction.