New rules for prisoners as Covid-19 cases climb behind bars

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 01: Ronald Lamola during the ANC national executive committee media briefing after its two-day lekgotla on August 01, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The party’s lekgotla had resolved to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. (Photo by Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Lucky Morajane)

All inmates who enter a correctional facility must be screened and quarantined for 14 days before being housed with other prisoners.

This is according to directives published by justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola on Monday.

According to the latest figures, provided to media on Sunday, there were 737 correctional service officials and 1,156 inmates who had contracted Covid-19.

“All inmates, upon admission to correctional facilities, must be screened in terms of established protocols, quarantined for 14 days and subjected to regulatory assessments before they are detained with the general inmate population,” read the directives, published in a government gazette on Monday.

Lamola has also directed that all inmates be screened during incarceration, consultation with healthcare professionals and upon their release, placement or movement.

“All correctional officials must be screened on a daily basis. All external service providers and residents on correctional services premises must be screened before entering any correctional facility, and social distancing measures must be implemented and maintained in terms of the standard operating procedures developed to deal with Covid-19,” said Lamola.

“Sentenced offenders who are verified as illegal foreign nationals and whose sentences will expire during the national state of disaster will be released into permanent designated facilities or temporary deportation, or repatriation facilities, as designated by the department of home affairs, whilst deportation or repatriation processes are facilitated by the department of home affairs.”

The day parole granted to sentenced offenders had also been suspended, and the transfer of inmates prohibited, unless under “exceptional circumstances”.

“The referral of inmates to external health facilities is limited to medical emergencies. Community services rendered by parolees and probationers are suspended,” said the minister.

Under the new directives, the provision of amenities to inmates such as food and toiletries from external sources is suspended, as are consultation visits between legal practitioners and inmates.

“Visits by members of the public to correctional centres and remand detention facilities are suspended, except for essential an