Spread of COVID-19 in prisons getting out of control: SASAPO

President Ramaphosa announced last week that 19 000 inmates would be released to deal with overcrowding in prisons

The South African Sentenced and Awaiting Trial Prisoners Organisation (SASAPO) says the spread of the coronavirus in prisons across the country is getting out of control.

There are at least 388 positive cases at correctional facilities with over 93 recoveries and three deaths.

President Ramaphosa announced last week that 19 000 inmates would be released to deal with overcrowding in prisons and give authorities a chance to control the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organisation has called on governments across the globe to make prevention and control measures in prisons their priority to protect the vulnerable inmates in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa’s prisoners’ organisation chairperson, Phindile Zweni, says they have reports of a surge in infections at a correctional centre in East London.

“Very concerning we’ve just received reliable information yesterday that at East London alone, West Bank prison, the positive or tested cases and isolated people or inmates is about 200 plus/minus as from Friday. One inmate was rushed to hospital. At this stage we don’t know whether he’s still alive or what. Hoping that he is still …I do think that this is going to escalate in all the other prisons as well because social distancing is not at all being adhered to,” says Zweni.