The National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Arthur Fraser, has conducted an inspection of COVID-19 isolation and quarantine sites in Estcourt in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
Fraser’s visit is part of supporting all prisons to ensure that standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in place.
The department has recorded 336 COVID-19 cases in five provinces.
So far, no official cases of COVID-19 have been reported in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department of Correctional Services Department is putting measures in place should a need arise to place more inmates in isolation or to quarantine COVID-19 positive inmates in hospitals. This is after COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng, Northern Cape, Western Cape and the department’s head office.
“As we continue to receive increasing numbers of COVID-19, it remains important that our isolation sites and quarantine sites are always ready hence we continue our task to check their state of readiness and also the staff to work on those sites,” says Correctional Services Spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo.
Meanwhile, the department has sought to assure the public that dangerous criminals in jail for crimes like murder or rape would not be released to lessen overcrowding in prisons and decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Nxumalo says low-risk inmates who are closer to completing their sentence, as well as those eligible for parole, would be considered.
President Cyril Ramaposa has announced that almost 19 000 inmates would be released.
“As a department, we have looked into the numbers in our centers. The president permitted that inmates classified to be of low risk and closer to their minimum sentence time served, they can be placed on parole. But that will be done by parole boards,” says Nxumalo.