Convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik is in a serious condition at the Qalakabusha Prison hospital in Empangeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Judge Nathan Erasmus from the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons visited Shaik in prison on Wednesday.
This was after an outcry that Shaik was receiving preferential treatment. Erasmus said Shaik was not treated any different from other prisoners.
"I went there to monitor and inspect conditions under which offenders were held and also to ensure that they were treated properly and prepared for their return to society," he said.
Erasmus said he went there unannounced, and that no one, not even Shaik or prison management, had prior knowledge of his visit.
"I inspected the whole Qalakabusha Prison. It is like all modern facilities. It is overcrowded like all other prisons, so it is wrong to say that it is better compared with other jails," he said.
Erasmus said Shaik was currently housed in the medical section because his doctor had prescribed that he be kept in a facility that has medical health- care because his condition needed medical attention.
He said he was not at liberty to disclose Shaik's illness, which dates back 5 years.
But Erasmus said Shaik did not look well.
"I cannot say his condition had deteriorated. I am not convinced that it has improved either from what it was before he was taken into the prison. He looked distressed to me."
If Shaik's condition improved he would be moved to a cell to share with three or four others.