A mattress was delivered to convicted murderer Rajivee Soni at New Prison last month based on his doctor’s advice, Correctional Services has confirmed. It was, however, not because Soni is receiving preferential treatment, the spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Thulani Mdluli, said yesterday.The Witness has previously written about Soni’s alleged “special treatment” in prison, with new information being received last week from reliable sources that a mattress had been delivered to New Prison for him on November 17. “Based on doctor’s advice, a mattress was indeed received and was searched accordingly on receipt as per our searching procedures before being distributed to offender Soni,” said Mdluli in his reply to The Witness inquiry. “This is in accordance with doctor’s order not Correctional Services,” he added.The jailed businessman is serving a 30- year sentence for killing his former best friend, Pietermaritzburg doctor Bhavish Sewram. The court found Soni had masterminded the doctor’s murder because he believed that he was having an affair with his wife. Responding to a query as to why Soni had been admitted to the private Eden Gardens Hospital last week, Mdluli said it is imperative that offenders have rights to private medical care services from their own expenses in accordance with the department’s policies. This is done through an application made by an offender, then approved by the “delegated authority”, which Soni complied with.Asked about the reason Soni is being kept in the prison hospital and not in a cell, Mdluli said that the doctor/patient relationship should be respected and prescripts by the treating doctor are not for public consumption. “It must be noted that the hospital prison cell is within the walls of the correctional centre and is basically subjected to the normal prison activities with only the provision that medical care is added,” he said.In response to an inquiry as to whether Soni was getting special food brought to him, Mdluli emphasised that the department has never purchased food for Soni.“However, if any evidence can be brought to our attention, those implicated may face criminal charges … we have nutritious food supplied by our kitchen to be eaten by every offender, including Soni,” Mdluli said.Mdluli also disputed allegations that Soni has a cell phone. He said that officials have never confiscated a cell phone from Soni and he is treated like other offenders, as far as searching is concerned. He pleaded for evidence or information to be brought forward so that the department could deal with the “alleged smuggling accordingly”.Responding to whether Soni gives his children gifts in prison, Mdluli also said that Soni has a court order, ordering Correctional Services to ensure that he has a consultation with his children in the presence of a social worker. Anything that he is giving to his children is brought to the social worker on the day of the visit and his children will get it as part of the activities, according to the court order conditions.