Lifelong prisoner has beef with authorities for allegedly denying him a special diet
By Bongani Hans 17m ago
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Cape Town – A prisoner, 68, sentenced to life for murder has accused Boksburg Correctional Service Centre in Joburg of violating his rights by denying him a special diet, prescribed by a state hospital to deal with his ailing health.
In his battle with prison authorities, Bright Padi is said to have recently been on a hunger strike lasting more than a week. Despite being frail because of an ailment, he has refused to eat food served to other inmates.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has denied Padi’s allegations. Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the Tambo Memorial Hospital had in 2017 prescribed the prison give Padi a “special diet” with “high fibre” to ease his constipation. This was after he had stomach surgery in 2016, and diagnosed with “bowel obstruction”. But it is alleged that for the past four years, prison authorities have ignored the prescription.
Padi was handed a life sentence in 1994 after he was convicted of murder, robbery, common assault, possession of a firearm and crimen injuria.
Independent Media’s investigations unit could not directly speak to Padi as he is said to be in solitary confinement, allegedly due to his defiant and hostile behaviour.
SA Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (Sapohr) activists at the prison said Padi had told them he was an Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla) veteran, the disbanded armed wing of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo).
Padi’s niece Mapule Padi also said he was a political activist when arrested. Azapo could not confirm its relationship with Padi, saying most of its underground cadres were only known by their combatant names.
Former combatant of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla) Kenny Motsamai – now an EFF MP and also jailed in Boksburg previously – said Padi was an Azanla member, but he wasn’t sure if his crimes were politically related. Sapohr leader Golden Miles Bhudu said Padi’s treatment was an example of how inmates’ rights were being violated.
It is alleged Padi has been in solitary confinement since January 23. His sympathisers claim he was being punished for being on the hunger strike between January 22 and February 2. Department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo described Padi as a hostile inmate who disrespects prison officers.
“The dietary advice referred to by offender Padi is an educational pamphlet issued to all offenders who were referred to a dietician. It is not a doctor’s order as insinuated by Padi.Other interventions are being sought to assist him as he is prefers to threaten and insult officials during engagements.”
Nxumalo said there were no records indicating Padi had been on a hunger strike. He didn’t deny the lengthy solitary confinement. “The insolent conduct of offender Padi is being addressed through the disciplinary code for offenders. He’s been eating special diet meals to date.”
In 2005, Independent Online reported that a prison official was critically wounded in a shooting when Padi unsuccessfully tried to escape from Zonderwater Prison in Gauteng.
Padi and five others allegedly took five officials hostage and threatened them with a .38 calibre revolver, smuggled into the premises. Ngconde Balfour, the minister at the time, said the group had demanded two R5 rifles and safe passage from the jail.