João Rendeiro leaving a police station in Durban, South Africa - Photo: LUÍS MIGUEL FONSECA/LUSA

João Rendeiro complains to UN about prison conditions in South Africa

“The conditions are terrible. The windows have no glass. There is no hot water. There is no medical assistance. There is no bed linen or adequate towels. South African jails are inhuman”.

This is an excerpt from a letter allegedly written to the UN by former Portuguese banker João Rendeiro, currently being held in Durban’s notorious Westville Prison pending extradition to Portugal to serve the first of three jail sentences for fraud and malpractice.

Today’s was the date for the first extradition hearing at Verulam court – which has already seen Mr Rendeiro on three occasions – but it was delayed by a week due to broken binding on the batch of Portuguese documents supporting the request.

As reports explain, the documents translated into English were duly bound, but the fact that their accompanying ‘originals’ were not was enough for South African authorities to request the same documentation, duly sealed, to be sent a second time via diplomatic bag.

In the meantime, the conditions under which Mr Rendeiro is being held have been highlighted for the fact that they are far from ideal for a man who is already showing cardiac issues, and apparently has been suffering from a fever.

For someone who lived in millionaire luxury in a gated community close to Cascais, Mr Rendeiro’s current situation – sharing a cell with 50 other people – is clearly a living nightmare.

Nonetheless, he is said to have given his lawyers instructions to fight the request for extradition, which as a result promises to “take months or years until it is decided”, says Expresso.

The same paper has explained that if Mr Rendeiro fights extradition from a South African jail, time spent behind bars in the process will not count against the time awaiting him in Portugal.

In other words, challenging the extradition order is a major gamble.

But the defence position is that the first jail-term awaiting Mr Rendeiro (two others have to pass through the appeals process) “would not be considered just or constitutional in South Africa”.

Lawyer June Marks has vowed to “attack the Portuguese case” by comparing it with the South African Constitution.

As well as fighting extradition, Ms Marks is said to be appealing to South Africa’s Supreme Tribunal against the refusal of bail by Verulam judge Rajesh Parshotam. Her case is that the judge allowed himself to be swayed by public opinion and pressure from the Portuguese media.

Mr Rendeiro has been in custody since he was ‘captured’ on December 11, after leaving Portugal three months previously, admitting later that he would not be returning (click here).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com