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Oscar Pistorius Shooting: Olympian Could Have Prosthetic Legs Removed & Be Bound To Wheelchair In Pretoria's Central Prison (PICTURES)

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Olympic double amputee Oscar Pistorius could have his prosthetic legs confiscated and be bound to a wheelchair in one of South Africa’s most dangerous prisons if he is not granted bail.

The athlete is understood to be being held in a single cell at Pretoria's Brooklyn Police Station as he waits to attend a second bail hearing on Thursday.

Top South African criminologist Laurie Pieters says she fears for the 26-year-old’s safety if he is moved to Pretoria Central Prison.

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Pretoria Central Prison was made famous as the location of capital punishment during apartheid

Pieters, who is also an offender profiler, said: "Prison in South Africa is notoriously a very dangerous place.

"If any person with a disability entered, they would be targeted.

"I don't know what sort of facilities they have in prison for handicapped people. The chances are they would have to take his prosthetic limbs because, in an open population situation, those would be weapons to other prisoners.

"He would then most probably have to spend time in a wheelchair, which would make him less mobile and an easier target."

Pieters's assessment highlights why Pistorius' lawyers are battling to keep the sports star out of prison.

The giant facility on the outskirts of the capital crams 17 narrow bunk beds into communal cells measuring around 100ft by 30ft.

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The prison is 'extremely overcrowded', with 17 bunk beds to every communal cell

Inmates are forced to wear bright orange robes, sleep with little or no ventilation and some claim to live in constant fear of violence and rape.

The notorious jail - which was made famous as the location of capital punishment during the apartheid era - is said to be "extremely overcrowded", according to Pieters.

The conditions even led to six prisoners serving sentences at the facility launching a court bid at Pretoria High Court to improve their living arrangements - and ensure they are treated "humanely".

In papers presented before court, they highlighted a number of issues - including violence and poor health care.

They also sought to seek protection from dangerous prisoners.

One young inmate, who was not named, told the judge in a hearing on February 4 at Pretoria High Court that he feared for his life in jail, that he had been raped several times and also contracted HIV.

The youngster spoke of 28 gangsters who force him to join them.

One of the six who brought the case to court, Werner Wessels was quoted in a statement saying: "They [gangsters] want to have sex with me and threaten to stab me if I tell the officials.

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Oscar Pistorius in court

"Drugs are freely obtainable in jail and I have a serious drug problem, for which I do not get help."

Wouter Viljoen, another of the six inmates, said in a statement before court that he had to make do with dirty mattresses and no bedding.

He also said inmates were locked up for 18 hours a day in cells with no ventilation and that they battle to sleep in the heat.

Viljoen and the five other complainants - Stephen Fourie, Jabu Dube, Johannes Lentswe, Kgabu Mosala and Wessels - said they hadn't been medically examined to determine whether they suffered from diseases.

They also claimed in statements that the main reason prisoners contract diseases in jail was due to the lack of health care services.

Their case has been postponed indefinitely, but the judge said the application was of constitutional importance.

The case paints a dark picture of the life behind bars potentially facing Pistorius in the countries prisons.

It is feared his celebrity status in South Africa could also lead to him being targeted and threatened by inmates hoping to extract money.

Pieters said: "Everybody knows who he is. You are going to have one lot targeting him for money and then maybe even others offering him protection for money.

"He comes from privilege, so how is he going to adapt to that? He already looks broken in court."

One major issue is overcrowding, with the most recent records, compiled by the International Centre for Prison Studies in April 2012, showing the overall prison population in South Africa stood at 156,659 - compared to just 83,999 in England and Wales.

And according to the same report, South Africa's prison population was a staggering 37,700 over the official capacity of the country's 241 institutions at the time.

Pieters added: "Pretoria Central is a very large prison with a women's section, another for convicted offenders and a facility for those awaiting trial.

"That latter section is extremely crowded.

"The prison authorities will have to make very difficult decisions - where they are going to put him and how they are going to house him?"

Pretoria Central Prison
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Oscar Pistorius Shooting in pictures
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