Ronnie Fakude/Prisoner A

Ronnie Fakude in court in Bloemfontein.

Ronnie Fakude in court in Bloemfontein. (Photo: Carolyn Raphaely)

Prisoner A, a paraplegic remand detainee (Photo: supplied)

Paraplegic remand detainee Ronnie Fakude, also known as Prisoner A (Photo: supplied)

Spotlight: Ronnie Fakude (South Africa)

WJP senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely, contributed to the book. The PDF version can be accessed here.

Spotlight: Ronnie Fakude (South Africa). Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery, C. Buchanan (Editor), (Sydney: Surviving Gun Violence Project, 2014), pp. 220-223.  ISBN 978-1-4931-0179-5 E-ISBN 1-4931-0179-X

Tuesday 29 April 2014

How justice system treats ordinary disabled prisoners by WJP senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely, is published in The Star 

Monday 28 April 2014

Inequality before the law: Oscar Pistorius vs. Ronnie Fakude by Carolyn Raphaely is published in the Daily Maverick 

Friday 19 April 2013

The Mail & Guardian publishes a follow-up story with the headline Denying paraplegic bail is ‘torture’.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Carolyn Raphaely, the WJP senior journalist who wrote the story about Prisoner A, Ronnie Fakude, brings us an update on his situation:

The bail application of paraplegic Ronnie Fakude (aka Prisoner A) was heard in Court 26 of the Bloemfontein Regional Court yesterday, and will continue on March 25th.

Fakude has been awaiting trial in Bloemfontein’s Grootvlei prison since December 2011 without even the comfort of a wheelchair  – until the recent intervention of the Wits Justice Project and the Free State Association for Physical Disabilities (FSAPD).

With tears running down his face through much of his testimony, the 50-year-old paraplegic in nappies described his life in the prison. He told the court how hard it was for him to cope with the limited bathroom facilities and how difficult it was to keep his wounds clean. He also outlined his health problems, resulting from the poor prison diet.

Fakude has no bowel or bladder control. He also has ulcers, a damaged lung resulting from prison-acquired tuberculosis and is prone to infection because of his compromised lung. He has one kidney and his intestines are sutured because of injuries from the hijacking that caused his paraplegia. Predictably, he also suffers from depression.

Next Monday, Dr Reggie Mabuye, a private medical practitioner sent by the FSAPD to assess Fakude, will testify about his health and his medical requirements. Dr Mabuye will also testify about the medication he prescribed for Fakude.

Fakude has recovered since being placed on a drip two weeks ago but has remained in the hospital section because it is believed to be more comfortable. “The truth is, it’s a converted cell with single beds instead of bunks. It is less crowded than my former cell which housed 88 men because the cell was designed to only accommodate 32.”

Notes Fakude’s lawyer Herklaas Venter: “He looks very weak, still has bed sores and pressure sores and the prison doesn’t supply adequate nappies. However, the State is opposing his bail application because they believe he’s the mastermind behind a number of fraud cases…”

If you would like to help with Fakude’s medical expenses, please make your donation using the following banking details:

BANK ACCOUNT:    ABSA, Alice Lane Towers, Sandton

BRANCH CODE:     63-20-05

ACCOUNT NO:        10-4060-3511

REFERENCE:         Prisoner A

Please send an email, with your details and amount donated, to the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa or NCPPDSA (Louise Bettel

Friday 8 March 2013

The Guardian (UK) publishes Carolyn Raphaely’s follow-up story Help for South Africa’s Prisoner A.

The Mail & Guardian also publishes the follow-up story with the headline Paraplegic’s hellish ordeal in prison. The article was among the 6 finalists in the “Feature Writing” category of the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards.

Monday 4 March 2013: pm

The Wits Justice Project has received a number of generous offers of assistance for Prisoner A – Ronnie Fakude. One of these was from the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA) – see below for full details. In addition, the NCPPDSA has set up a special fund for Prisoner A.

  • If you want to help by donating to Prisoner A (Ronnie Fakude)

BANK ACCOUNT:    ABSA, Alice Lane Towers, Sandton

BRANCH CODE:     63-20-05

ACCOUNT NO:        10-4060-3511

REFERENCE:         Prisoner A

Please send an email, with your details and amount donated, to the NCPPDSA (Louise Bettel

  • If you are a legal or medical professional interested in pro bono work in this regard

Please contact Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, Wits Justice Project Coordinator on

  • If you would like to donate to further investigations of similar situations in South Africa’s criminal justice system, please click here.

Monday 4 March 2013: am

Carolyn Raphaely, WJP senior journalist, who wrote the story about Prisoner A – Ronnie Fakude – and who has since been working around the clock to try to get him help, writes an update of the latest developments:

The possibility of Oscar Pistorius being denied bail and awaiting trial in a SA correctional facility has served to highlight the plight of other people with disabilities awaiting trial behind bars. Since publication of paraplegic Prisoner A’s story in the Guardian UK, the Saturday Star and Business Day (see below), the WJP has been inundated with generous offers of assistance from around the world.

Initially, prisoner A was reluctant to disclose his identity for fear of victimisation from prison officials. However, after taking seriously ill last week, he decided to disclose his identity in the belief that he was dying.

Since then:

  • Britta Rotmann (Deputy National Commissioner for Remand), intervened and Fakude was transferred to the prison “hospital,” a converted cell.
  • Andrea Vinassa, media coordinator of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPPDSA), read Prisoner A’s story and contacted the WJP on Friday afternoon.  Since DCS was unable to provide a doctor, the (NCPPDSA) sent a private doctor to see him in prison yesterday afternoon. He assessed Fakude and prescribed medication which will be delivered today courtesy of the NCPPDSA.
  • Hendrien de Klerk, Provincial Director of the Free State Association for Persons with Disabilities, has offered to accommodate Fakude in the Association’s Jean Webber Houses which is especially equipped to host people with disabilities.  Though the Jean Webber house receives a government subsidy of R2 400 /month per person by the Department of Social Development, it costs the organisation R7 000 to care for one person which has to be fund-raised.
  • Since the Department of Correctional Services has been unable to provide Fakude with a wheelchair since his arrival in prison, De Klerk has also undertaken to deliver a wheelchair to the prison tomorrow morning.

 Friday 1 March 2013

Business Day publishes Anton Harber’s ‘Justice’ is neither swift nor just for Prisoner A

Saturday 23 February 2013

Story published as Handicapped and waiting for trial – the story of Prisoner X in the Saturday Star.

Friday 22 February 2013

Oscar Pistorius case highlights plight of South Africa’s disabled prisoners by Carolyn Raphaely published in The Guardian (UK).

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