Department of Correctional Services has reviewed its Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy, allowing for visits to prison facilities and remand detention centres, spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said on Monday.
“Following the pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the country will move to alert level 2 effective from 18 August … inmate visits to correctional centres and remand detention centres shall be permitted under strict conditions, observing Covid-19 health protocols as well as departmental standard operating procedures,” Nxumalo said.
He said visits were limited to one non-contact visit per inmate per calendar month, and only one visitor per inmate at a time.
Bookings should be pre-arranged at least 48-hours prior to the intended visit to ensure proper planning, Nxumalo said, stressing that no visits would be allowed without prior appointment. Only visitors with face masks would get access, he added.
Visitors must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the scheduled visit, and inmates will be allowed to receive items as per their privilege group and as prescribed in the policy. Visits will take place between 9 am and 3 pm.
In centres housing both sentenced and remands categories, and depending on the number of inmates, remand detainees will be able to receive visits on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, excluding public holidays. Sentenced offenders will get visitors on Wednesdays, Thursdays, weekends and public holidays.
“We rely on members of the public to be honest during screening in order to prevent any potential infections and cross contamination,” said Nxumalo.
“Those who have been in contact with Covid-19 positive cases must indicate as that will allow our health care practitioners to conduct extensive screening, which includes taking of vital signs. It is important to note that provision of false information is a criminal offense.”
Consultation visits between legal practitioners and inmates will also be non-contact and will have to adhere to Covid-19 health protocols and operating procedures.
“As prescribed, legal practitioners will be expected to make prior arrangements with the head of centre and be armed with a proof of identity. On urgent matters, legal representatives and inmates may communicate telephonically after approval from the head of centre has been obtained, and where circumstances and resources permit,” said Nxumalo.
He said as restrictions had been eased across the country, the department of correctional was constantly monitoring the public health situation in each correctional centre, including community transmissions, and taking decisions accordingly based on the risk levels.
“If, at any given time, there are new or suspected cases of Covid-19 in a facility or unforeseen circumstances at the premises, this could affect visitations,” said Nxumalo.
“Our top priority remains the health and safety of our officials, inmates and the public. We will therefore continue to monitor the situation and adjust safety measures and operating procedures where necessary.
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