Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
Schabir Shaik, who began serving his 15 years for fraud and corruption yesterday, will survive prison life.
This is according to his supporters, relatives and prison union members.
Ronnie Degee, of Durban, didn't miss one of Shaik's court appearances.
He was the first to arrive at Westville Prison in Durban yesterday to pay tribute to his idol.
Growing up in Durban and working closely with Shaik's brothers, Mo and Yunus, on the Durban Housing Action Committee in the early 1980s, Degee has remained close to the family.
"I would like to tell him to hang in there. I know he will survive. He is a strong person with a lot of character," Degee said.
A man who did not want to be named said Shaik was "taking the fall" for former deputy president Jacob Zuma.
"He [Shaik] is a comrade, a strong and patriotic one. He will survive the difficulties and harshness of prison life."
Derrick Mdluli, KwaZulu- Natal chairman of the South African Prisoners' Human Rights Organisation, was also among the first to arrive at the prison yesterday to meet Shaik.
He said Shaik would be protected and would not be victimised because he was rich.
"All the prisoners would like to associate themselves with him because he has got money and, for sure, he will be protected.
"He certainly will not be treated like an ordinary prisoner," said Mdluli.
Mdluli, who served a long sentence in Westville, said that Shaik could apply for a single cell - but would have to share it with two or three inmates, because the prison was badly overcrowded.
"He would have to eat what other inmates eat, he can't bring his own food," Mdluli said.