The inmate, who is detained at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, says he’s literally doing hard time.
The 30-year-old convicted armed robber said he got a shock when he was moved to a single-cell section and made to sleep on a block of cement instead of a bed.
“When I got there, I was given a thin mattress and a single blanket to sleep on,” he said.
“But this block of cement is so cold, we’re forced to take the blanket we are supposed to cover ourselves with to put under the mattress.
“The cement feels wet, the paint in here is affecting my sinus and is making me ill.
“The mattress is so thin that I can feel the cold right up into my bones.”
The convict, who is serving a 13-year sentence, added: “I have complained on numerous occasions and I only managed to get a second blanket from another offender.
“I know that I’m a prisoner but sleeping on this when it’s making me ill does not feel right to me.”
But Drakenstein’s deputy director at maximum security Chris Denner said the concrete beds are not new to South African prisons, and have been installed for security reasons.
He said the “beds” are no more uncomfortable than the steel beds inmates are used to.
He explained that the prisoners were moved from D-section as it was being renovated.
“A-Unit single cells have well constructed beds that were approved to be built with brick and it is not a new thing,” he said.
“The last section of A-Unit has some of these beds now for years but it is new to [the offender] and no complaints [were] received up to now about these beds.
“All the offenders have new mattresses and extra bedding if requested.
“The beds [were] built due to security reasons because some offenders have used their beds to block [entry] to the cells.”
The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, which deals with complaints from prisoners, is investigating.
The inspectorate’s Wayne Phoré said: “We have also had to look at the Act to see if it is infringing on the prisoners’ human rights and it’s not.
“But we are not just accepting what the prison is saying, we will go in and have someone investigate and draw up a report.”