Subsequently however, two members of the Waterkloof 4 have been ordered to return to prison after a video showed them “living it up” in their cell a day before release.
In prison, as in life, it is not what you know but who, and at what price they can be bought. In the video Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez can be seen vogueing for the camera, showing off their ripped bodies and celebrating “our last weekend in jail” while hip-hop music is heard in the background. They are drinking what appears to be alcoholic drinks and one shouts: “We have a bottle!” Prisoners are not allowed cellphones or alcohol.
After a video showing two of the “Waterkloof Four” celebrating their imminent release from Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria, questions have been raised whether some prisoners are given preferential treatment. The general response from researchers and experts in the field is that, in prison, money can buy you anything because corruption is still pervasive.
Lucas Muntingh, project co-ordinator for the Law Society Prison Reform Initiative, said corruption was “severely undermining the integrity of prisons”. Mr Muntingh said bribing officials was common in local prisons, and money could buy anything from cellphones to medical care.
“A prison official can say: buy me a cold drink and I will take you to the nurse,” he said. Race and class background of prisoners meant very different experiences, as affluence could help buy more comforts and better services from warders.
The “Waterkloof Four”, who also included Reinach Tiedt and Gert van Schalkwyk, were well taken care of because of their families’ money and had a “different experience” of prison compared with poor prisoners who could not buy the same privileges, Mr Muntingh said.
Becker and Du Preez were rearrested on the Sunday after their release, when the video went viral.
But Golden Miles Bhudu of the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights said the “Waterkloof Four” were “innocent bystanders” in a corrupt system. The problem lay with officials. Mr Bhudu, who served six-and-a-half years in jail for housebreaking, said prison officials supplemented their incomes by making “dirty money” from bribes for facilitating or turning a blind eye to corrupt activity. “Money talks. All you need to do to live the good life in prison is come from an influential family and influential background politically, economically and socially,” he said. Nomonde Nyembe of Sonke Gender Justice added that “notoriety” also played a role in what type of prison cell one was given and the conditions endured.
Department of Correctional Services regulations also provide an outline of the food, exercise and healthcare to which prisoners are entitled. It stipulates a “balanced distribution” of grain, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and protein and fats, oil and sugar. Democratic Alliance spokesman for correctional services James Selfe said prison diets were “adequate” but there was “widespread” corruption and prisoners were forced to bribe officials for additional food.
The Department of Correctional Services has launched an investigation into the officials who were on duty at the time of the party shown in the video.
No way to rehabilitate the Waterkloof Four?
Watching the video in which Christoff Bekker and Frikkie du Preez party in their prison cell has raised many questions. Despite the fact that many people clearly feel they need to be put back into prison since their intended rehabilitation clearly failed, one just can’t help but think that there is no real way to get them on the right track again. Here are reasons for this:
*Their rehabilitation started in their early 20s
In this time, these four boys were placed in prison with all the luxuries (if not more) of a modern-day university dorm room. Complete with bunker beds, a kettle, computer, cellphones and liquor, this is any boy’s dream.
Apart from them showing very little visible remorse upon being convicted for an innocent man’s murder, they were then placed in custody where they did not have to work to earn money, where they got their food for free, and where they visibly spent most of their time working out so that when they were finally released, they would seemingly look like hardcore jocks who have conquered the “harsh” prison life to come out exuding all the swagger.
They were never faced with the true prison of life in which we work hard to earn money and survive and pay our taxes. They never grew up. They were handed everything on a platter. They didn’t really pay much for their crime at all.
*They didn’t serve their full 12-year sentence
They are out on parole halfway through their sentence. They have, once again, been bailed out of suffering for their crime and now roam the streets thinking their new muscles and haircuts make them the cool kids they never were in high school.
What kind of lesson is that? Go to prison, do almost nothing, build some muscles, convince yourself you’re cool, and walk the streets again halfway through your sentence because you’re the Waterkloof Four and you get away with being pompous, remorseless and shameless.
*It won’t help sending them back to prison
Sincerely, most believe there is no hope for these guys. People believe they got the easy way out. They lived a comfortable life in prison. If they are to be sent back, they will just enjoy it as much as they seemingly did for the first 6 years. Though it will keep them off the streets, it will not keep them from influencing those around them in thinking a heinous crime such as murder can get you the kind of luxuries in an SA prison that an embarrassingly big part of our population will never have out here in the real world.
The Fall out
Reinach Tiedt and Gert van Schalkwyk, the other half of the infamous Waterkloof Four, distanced themselves from the antics displayed by fellow twosome Christoff Becker and Frikkie du Preez, who were re-arrested just days after being freed on parole. “Tiedt and Van Schalkwyk have no knowledge of any of the allegations pertaining to unauthorised possession or use of any device to record or photograph the alleged activities of Christoff Bekker and Frikkie Du Preez,” their attorney Jenny Brewis said in a statement.
They therefore had had no contact with Bekker and Du Preez since Tiedt and Van Schalkwyk had been transferred to the Zonderwater Correctional Centre in December 2008, Brewis said. “The so-called Waterkloof Four met again on February 11 at the Department of Correctional Services when the foursome were placed on parole.” Brewis said her clients had had no contact with Becker or Du Preez since.
After their release Tiedt and Van Schalkwyk declined an invitation to a spit-braai held for Becker and Du Preez.
The next Page: Waterkloof Family’s fall from grace