Overcrowding in the Barberton Correctional Centre in Mpumalanga continues to be a challenge. Prisoners say they are worried that they might be infected by coronavirus if this issue is not addressed by officials.
Meanwhile, prison officials say they have already relocated over 100 inmates to create space for quarantine and isolation purposes.
Safety concern in Durban
The IFP in KwaZulu-Natal has also raised concerns about the safety of employees and prisoners in one of the correctional centres in Durban. This after one of the employees in the prison allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.
IFP National Chairperson Blessed Gwala says the department of correctional services has acted recklessly in allowing the infected employee to self-quarantine in the quarters inside the facility.
“The department of correctional services employee at Westville prison has been diagnosed with COVID-19 the person absconded from hospital after he was diagnosed and assumed duties. The person has been quarantined together with other employees in the quarters situated within the premises. It is alleged that part of medium B correctional centre has been closed for disinfection. The IFP believes that this is a reckless and negligence of the highest level.”
The latest COVID-19 positive cases in correctional services facilities in the country have revealed a sharp rise in infections, with the Eastern Cape leading by 471 cases, while in KwaZulu-Natal only two cases have been confirmed thus far.
Below are the Department of Correctional Services COVID-19 statistics :
Almost 19 000 prisoners to be released on parole
Last month, the government announced that almost 19 000 prisoners will be released on parole to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic from the already overcrowded correctional facilities in the country. The decision was announced by Minister of Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.
President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the placement on parole of inmates convicted for petty crimes. This is in response to the United Nations (UN) call for countries to reduce their prison populations.
Currently, the country’s correctional facilities are overcrowded with a population of 155 000 inmates.
The President has warned these offenders may be re-arrested if they violate their release conditions. He said the dispensation excludes prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment or for those serving terms for including sexual offences, murder and attempted as well as gender-based violence and child abuse.
In the video below, Lamola elaborates on the decision: