Life inside Prison (2008)
At 9am one morning, Christoff Becker – the last of the Waterkloof 4 – handed himself over to the police to joined his three co-accused in jail. Becker – who was in the Western Cape when his co-accused Gert van Schalkwyk, Reinach Tiedt and Frikkie du Preez handed themselves over – landed at OR Tambo the following day. He reported to the police detective services head office at Pretoria Central at about 9am and an hour later was brought to the Pretoria magistrate’s court in a golden BMW X5.
Looking serious and a bit stressed, Becker quickly jumped out of the vehicle and ran up the stairs to the court’s holding cells. He did not speak to the media waiting for him at the court. He disappeared inside where his finger prints were taken and forms filled in. When Becker emerged again shortly afterwards he got into the BMW and was driven off to the Pretoria central prison, to join his co-accused.
At 3.35pm on the Monday Van Schalkwyk, Tiedt and Du Preez left in a police minibus to start their 12-year jail term for the murder of an unidentified man. Dressed in tracksuits and carrying packed bags, the three looked stunned when they reported to the Pretoria magistrate’s court.
They had handed themselves over to the Pretoria police head office detectives after learning that warrants for their arrest had been issued. The three were brought to court in a police vehicle. Sitting behind the tinted windows, they gathered their bags before they filed out of the side door of the vehicle. Van Schalkwyk emerged first, briefly glancing at the hordes of photographers and reporters surrounding them.
Asked how he felt, he expressionlessly replied: “Very fine, thank you.” Van Schalkwyk was followed by Tiedt and Du Preez. The three of them briskly climbed the stairs to the court’s holding cells. They were followed by the fresh scent of soap and deodorant, apparently as a result of the final bath or shower they had at home. They disappeared behind closed doors. Here, forms were filled in and fingerprints taken. There were no family members present.
The three left the building looking nervous, and got into the police vehicle again. The vehicle drove off into the afternoon traffic with blaring sirens, taking the three to Pretoria Central Prison, commonly known as New Lock.
The Waterkloof 4 are given only two meals per day and are allowed only an hour per day outdoors. The rest of the time is spent in their cells in Pretoria Central prison.
In the morning, Christoff Becker, 22, Frikkie du Preez, 23, Gert van Schalkwyk, 22, and Reinach Tiedt, 22, have porridge, milk and coffee for breakfast with their fellow inmates in the dining hall.
Only five hours later they eat again – this time a dinner of soy, pap, cabbage and bread, which they have to ration for the night if they become hungry, as they don’t receive three meals.
They are locked in their respective cells with the only view a long row of bars – the doors of the about 20 cells on the opposite side.
Inmates are kept locked up all day and follow a strict daily routine. They get up at 05:30 and have 90 minutes to shower and get dressed. Breakfast is at 07:00 and afterwards they go back to their cells. Lunch and dinner are already at 12:00.
On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays there are church services, which inmates may attend.
“The rest of the day, you sit. You do nothing. They will probably be appointed to workshops teams at some point,” said the informed source. At least there was an hour a day for exercise, where the four could exercise in “a small square-ish area outside with high walls around you”. “You can run or do push-ups or just sit around.”
At night there is no specific time when the lights are switched off, which could be “terrible. “You choose when you want to switch off the lights but some of those guys listen to the radio all night long. You can’t complain about that even if you want to. Sorry for you – you are in prison. There is no mercy.”
Becker shared a cell with two or three other prisoners in the C section. He was presumably moved to the B section a week later, where Du Preez, Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt are sharing two-man cells.
When the press spoke to Becker, he said he would keep his chin up and make the best of a bad situation,”
On November 23rd, 2008, Oeloff de Meyer, the lawyer who’s representing three of the Waterkloof Four killers explains the fact that two of them have been transferred to the notorious C-Max prison in Pretoria. Normally only the most dangerous criminals are incarcerated at C-Max. This prison is renowned for its stringent security measures.
Reinach Tiedt and Gert van Schalkwyk were transferred from Pretoria Central Prison to C-Max because Correctional Services wants to refurbish the section where the two are being held, said De Meyer. “It is absolutely not true that they have committed transgressions in prison or have become a security risk.
“In fact, they are model prisoners. They religiously obey all the rules.” “But there is no other place apart from C-Max where they can be held until the refurbishments have been completed.” “Also, they are not the only ones that have been moved for the time being. All the prisoners being held in that particular section have been transferred to C-Max.”
“The other two members of the Waterkloof four, Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez, are being held in another section of Pretoria Central and are not affected by the refurbishments.
De Meyer said at the time that the young men, who were serving 12 years have “adjusted well” in prison. “They are doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances. “They have made friends and have accepted that they have to serve their full term.”
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