Correctional Services Dept alarmed by rise in Covid infections in SA prisons

South African prisoners, in orange uniforms, registering to vote in the 2004 elections at Pretoria Correctional Services. Pic: Dudu Zitha. © ST.

CAPE TOWN – The Correctional Services Department on Saturday said it was alarmed by the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections in prisons.

There are currently more than 1,000 active cases at correctional centres across the country.

On Saturday, the department confirmed 152 inmates and eight officials tested positive following a coronavirus outbreak at the Helderstroom Prison in Caledon. The facility has since been placed on lockdown.

The Correctional Services Department said it bolstered its COVID-19 response in a bid to curb the spread of the virus at prisons nationwide.

But at Helderstroom Prison, the number of coronavirus cases rose from 92 to 160 since Friday.


The department’s Singabakho Nxumalo, said, “It is currently under lockdown. We took that decision intentionally so that we could limit the number of people who could be exposed to the virus.”

The department said it has an adequate supply of PPE but was looking at rolling out full protective gear as more officials across the country are falling ill.

“We have sufficient PPE across all our centres across the country, but we take nothing for granted and we monitor the stock on a daily basis.”

Nxumalo said for now the situation was under control. – Eyewitness News