Horror stories swirl around Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II prison. Eighty men sleep in cells designed for half that number, and HIV infection is supposedly used as a weapon of fear and intimidation by powerful gangs.
Oscar Pistorius, however, is likely to be spared the worst.
When asked to confirm that the prison service had provision to cope with Pistorius's disability, the National Correctional Services commissioner Zach Modise confirmed the athlete would be detained in the hospital section.
In a departure from the usual procedure, Pistorius was driven from court to prison shortly after his sentence, rather than being kept in the holding cells until the end of the day to be transferred with other new detainees.
Within hours of arrival, he had been issued with a prison number, received a prison uniform and, according to the prison service's area commissioner Zebilon Monama, placed in a side ward single cell in the hospital wing.
"[This is] because of his vulnerability..." Monama said.
Meanwhile, Reeva Steenkamp's family said it was satisfied with the five-year sentence handed down to Pistorius yesterday.
"Justice was served," family lawyer Dup De Bruyn told reporters outside the court. The judge had given "the right sentence," he said.
Steenkamp's parents were in court to hear the sentence and the dead model's mother, June, said justice had been done.
As she left court, June was asked by reporters about suggestions that Pistorius would not serve the full five years in prison.
She said: "It doesn't matter - he's going to pay something."
Asked if she thought justice had been served, she said: "Yes."
The model's father, Barry, who suffered a stroke after her death, added: "We are satisfied."
Gina Myers, a close friend of Steenkamp, said: "I really don't think any of us will heal any time soon... there will always be questions."
Pistorius has spoken of his desire to spend his time there teaching other inmates to read.
But how he is treated, and what he does, will depend on his psychological state, which is fragile in the extreme.
Pistorius's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said the family accepted the sentence.
"Oscar will embrace this opportunity to pay back to society," he said.
He appealed to reporters to give the family privacy after what he called "20 months of relentless public trial".
Pistorius's uncle also criticised state prosecutors for pursuing a premeditated charge against Pistorius, and said "they decided to inflict as much collateral damage as they could".
He added: "As a last word, I want to say something as an uncle. I hope Oscar will start his own healing process as he walks down the path of restoration.
"As a family, we are ready to support and guide Oscar as he serves his sentence."