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Measures to Combat COVID-19 in Prisons Outlined

April 15, 2020

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Newly admitted inmates are kept in admission cells for 14 days before mixing within the general inmate population.

The justice and constitutional development department revealed this in a statement on a response to a recent Sunday Times article on the Sun City prison in Johannesburg.

The department added that the placement of inmates in admission cells for two weeks is to enable monitoring of their health related to COVID-19 or other illnesses.

The Sunday Times alleged that a recent visit by the justice and correctional services minister, Ronald Lamola, to the prison had been staged to create a false impression of adherence to COVID-19 regulations.

In an attempt to set the record straight on the matter, the department pointed out that personal protective equipment (PPE) was procured and distributed to all correctional facilities.

“At this stage, there is no shortage of PPEs across Correctional Centres, but we are aware of fake news that have been spread around this issue and we urge the media to apply caution to such news.”

Other responses provided by the department include:

• Infection Prevention Control measures activated at all management areas with specific directives to ensure that PPE is availed and the department pushed for the sanitization of reception areas, cells, offices, vehicles and ablution facilities.
• System in place to assist correctional centres in need of stock whilst awaiting delivery – centres can share resources in the interim.
• Visits suspended for the duration of the lockdown – in exceptional cases, preventative measures against the spread of Covid-19 adhered to.
• Launch of the screening campaign to ensure massive screening of both offenders and officials as well as those who visit centres.
• Mandatory for everyone who enters the centre to be screened – investigation on allegations to be launched.
• Circular issued to all correctional centres for facilities to identify officials who will be executing their responsibilities on-site and those who will be working from home.

Meanwhile, in another statement, the minister welcomed the announcement by the Association of Regional Magistrates of Southern Africa committing R200 000 to the Solidarity Fund.

“This contribution is a positive gesture that heeds President Ramaphosa’s call for everyone in society who is able to make a contribution to the Solidarity Fund, to do so. We encourage more commitments such as these to help government deal with the unprecedented effects that the COVID-19 is having on our country,” said Minister Lamola.

The Judicial Officers Association of South Africa recently committed R50 000 to the Fund.