Prisons strained as arrested ‘looters’ test positive for Covid-19
Prisons in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are reporting that many inmates arrested for alleged looting and violence in the provinces two weeks ago have tested positive for Covid-19.
“Since we started receiving suspects arrested for looting, we have more inmates testing positive compared to officials,” correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said on Tuesday.
Nxumalo said in the week of July 18 to 25, 336 inmates and 256 officials tested positive for Covid-19 in prisons across the country.
“That’s a lot. We don’t [usually] get so many cases in one week.”
Nxumalo said 1,813 inmates – 1,355 in Gauteng and 458 in KwaZulu-Natal - had been remanded in custody for allegedly taking part in the looting.
Correctional centres in Gauteng had been hit hardest, said Nxumalo. “Sun City prison and Vereeniging are feeling the strain. A total of 930 remandees were coming in at the two facilities in a week. That’s a big number.”
Last week acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi urged those involved in the unrest to be tested if they experienced Covid-19 symptoms.
Kubayi said the correctional services department had told her “quite a number of people who were arrested have tested positive”, reported TimesLIVE.
“We are worried that the many gatherings during the unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal may lead to another surge in numbers and we will watch closely,” she said. “We must screen and test in these communities.”