COVID-19: Correctional Services eases prison overcrowding


The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has made progress in placing low-risk inmates on parole, in order to ease overcrowding and counter the spread of Coronavirus at correctional centres.

Speaking on behalf of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster at a briefing on Wednesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said inmates released as part of measures to deal with COVID-19 have undergone the relevant rehabilitation programmes aimed at correcting their offending behaviour.

“We have released a total of 6 128 inmates thus far,” said Cele of the parole dispensation announced by President Ramaphosa on 12 July.

The COVID-19 Disaster Management Response Strategy is being implemented at all 243 correctional centres in the country.

“The strategy has enabled DCS to ensure the wellbeing of inmates and officials. All inmates have access to quality healthcare, in line with the provisions of the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners,” Cele said.

As at 13 July 2020, DCS recorded a total of 3 688 confirmed COVID-19 cases, compromising 2 203 officials and 1 485 inmates.

“We have also recorded 2 235 recoveries, of which 1 231 cases are inmates. DCS appreciates the officials dedicated to flattening the curve of COVID-19 in our correctional facilities. We will continue working towards eliminating all active cases,” Cele said.

The cluster briefing came after the President announced amended regulations on Sunday, aimed at countering the staggering rise in COVID-19 cases.

Cele said under level three of lockdown, the Department of Home Affairs (which is part of the cluster) will continue to provide essential services to people in their time of need.

The Department of Home Affairs has during the lockdown registered births, issued birth certificates, death certificates, temporary ID documents and passports for those involved in the cross-border transportation of essential goods.

From 16 June, the Department of Home Affairs has partnered with the Department of Basic Education to issue identity documents (IDs) to matriculants.

Since the start of the lockdown period on 27 March until 9 July 2020, almost 800 000 people visited Home Affairs offices for various services.

“More than 260 431 births were registered, 116 759 replacement birth certificates were issued, as well as 143 604 temporary identity certificates, 130 452 death certificates and 6 801 passports were issued to those in export and cargo transport.

“More than 136 677 smart ID Cards, which were applied for before the imposition of the lockdown, have been collected,” the Minister said.