Prison visits will now be permitted under strict conditions
The Department of Correctional Services has reviewed its Covid-19 Risk-Adjusted Strategy and now will allow visits for inmates.
In a statement released on Monday, the department said inmate visits will be allowed under strict conditions and will comply with the COVID-19 protocols and Departmental Standard Operating Procedures.
“It is critical for members of the public to observe that visits are limited to one non-contact visit per inmate per calendar month, and only one visitor per inmate at a time,” department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo said bookings must be pre-arranged at least 48-hours prior to the intended visit to ensure proper planning, no visitors will be allowed without booking an appointment.
Visitors are advised arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the scheduled visit time. The prisoners will be allowed to receive items from their visitors.
The department said visits will take place between 09:00 and 15:00 on visit days.
“In centres housing both sentenced and remands categories, and depending on the number of inmates, remand detainees may receive visits on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, excluding Public Holidays. Whereas, sentenced offenders will be allowed visits on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Weekends and Public Holidays,” he said.
The department also urged the members of the public to be honest during screening to prevent any potential infections and cross contamination.
“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,” the department said.
Nxumalo said consultations with legal practitioners and the prisoners will be non-contact. He also said legal practitioners will need to make arrangements with Head of Centre and provide 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,” Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo said as restrictions have been eased across the country, DCS is constantly monitoring the public health situation in each correctional centre, including community transmissions.
He said 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.