JOHANNESBURG – According to Correctional Services officials, the department is struggling to isolate COVID-19 positive inmates.
Many of those recently arrested for alleged looting have tested positive. The department said this is putting strain on an already overburdened system.
Correctional Services’ Singabakho Nxumalo said, “every newly admitted person must be isolated. As they come in in big numbers, we have to put them in isolation. We have to move other inmates from other sections, convert them into isolation sites, so that’s where we’re also feeling the pressure. .. we can’t be having our facilities declared superspreaders. that’s something we can’t afford to have.”
South Africa has a prison population of some 163,000 – of which roughly 48,000 are awaiting trial and the rest (approximately 115,000), are sentenced, prisoners. The overwhelming majority of prisoners are sentenced adult males (112,000). There are almost 3,000 adult sentenced females. Children comprise fewer than 100 individuals.
For the past 12 years, our prison population has been remarkably stable due to two major competing drivers. The first driver is that we are sending fewer and fewer people to prison due to a poorly performing criminal justice system. The second driver is that we are imposing longer sentences and then now an added strain of more inmates due to looting.