COLOMBIAN drug baron Pablo Escobar was allowed to design his own prison cell in a deal struck with Colombian authorities and Brazilian drug lord Jarvis Chimenes Pavao managed to get a three-roomed en suite cell with plasma TV, airconditioning and a library when he was locked up in Paraguay.
Things aren’t quite as rosy for Tebogo Makena, a prisoner serving four years in a Pretoria prison, but he’s not complaining.
He’s openly boasting about his flashy lifestyle in a video circulating on social media.
Inmates at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre said they were not surprised to see Makena trending on Twitter on Thursday as he lived a life of privilege in his single cell — because he pays prison wardens for favours.
“This is not new to us,” an inmate said.
“He boasts about clothes, jewellery and sometimes food.
“Wardens bring this stuff for him and he pays them handsomely.
“He scams people from outside while in prison, and the warden sometimes collect the money for him from outside.”
Makena was jailed for malicious damage of state property and house-breaking.
He and fellow prisoner Lucas Masemola were caught last year while running an extortion scam from inside Odi Prison.
They posed as police investigators and would call police stations to obtain information on car hijackings and car theft.
They would then contact the victims, inform them that their vehicles had been recovered and tell them that they had to deposit money through eWallet to get their vehicles back. He was then transferred to Pretoria.
Inmates said he was still benefiting from the scam as he always had money.
In the video posted on Twitter on Thursday, Makena and an unidentified inmate are seen boasting about Louis Vuitton and Gucci shoes that he had just purchased for R13000 (about $1300).
He brags that he does not buy his clothes from Marabastad and shows off a Louis Vuitton invoice.
He is then heard saying the shoes were bought from Sandton City, a prestige shopping centre on Johannesburg’s northern fringes.
The video also shows Jacobs Kronung coffee, All Bran Flakes and a Russell Hobbs kettle, which are luxury items in jail.
Prisoners are not allowed to have mobile phones, but Makena clearly used one to make the video and post it on Twitter.
A Gauteng Correctional Services spokesman said his department condemned the video and that a thorough probe would be conducted.
“Due to the seriousness of the matter, we immediately instituted an internal investigation,” he said.
“The investigation will also help to ensure that plans are in place to minimise the recurrence of similar incidents. If found guilty the inmates may face criminal charges, and this may result in an additional term of imprisonment.”
That’s a given, since Makema will also be facing several fraud charges when he gets out.
But with good coffee, fancy shoes, a smartphone and some co-operative wardens, even better things may be in store for the flashy conman.
* The Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre houses up to 7000 inmates.
It used to be known as the Pretoria Central Prison but was renamed by former president Jacob Zuma in 2013 as a tribute to a convicted murderer who was hanged 135 years ago.
Its gallows catered for up to seven people at a time.
None of the executed ever tasted Jacobs Kronung coffee.
CHECKOUT: Justin just likes giving them the chop
CHECKOUT: BRZ will leave ’em gasping