THE ongoing growing number of people who are testing positive to the Coronavirus in the country is beginning to raise concern among inmates at different police stations.
This past few days Lepelle Review has received a number of telephone calls from inmates at Malipisdrift and Dennilton police stations who claims that their lives are at risk due to non-adherence of Coronavirus’s rules and regulations.
“Day in and day out, there are new inmates who are brought to different cells who tells us that they are not even tested before they can be locked in the same cells with the other prisoners who have been in the cells for a longer period. This is very bad as some of us have been in these cells long before Coronavirus was declared in the country, and we are afraid if police go about arresting people and lock them in the same cells with us without being tested might cause problems for us,” said one prisoner who added that he is worried sick about how his wife and two kids are surviving outside as they depend on him to provide food.
With court hearing having suspended for the duration of the Lockdown due to the COVID-19’s rules and regulations, prisoners said their lives and those of their families who depend on them for survival are seriously at halt.
Another prisoner told Lepelle Review that: “What is worse is here is that there is no even social distance as some of the cells are populated as you know there are not court appearances due to this pandemic.”
Prisoners also said they are living in some very cells of which some of the toilets don’t flush, posing a health hazard for them.
“We are denied visitors, and police even refuse our families to bring us toiletry, more so vital things such as washing soap, toothpaste and so on,” added another prisoner who told Lepelle Review that he is worried about his four month pregnant wife
Yesterday Prisoners and those awaiting trial are going on hunger strike in a bid to force government to release inmates in order to protect them from COVID-19 in overcrowded jails.
More than 90 prisoners and Correctional Services staff members tested positive for coronavirus, raising concerns over the spread of the pandemic in overcrowded facilities.
Yesterday www.ewn.co.za reported that The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (Sapohr) said inmates would skip meals from Monday morning to try and force government to consider the early release of certain inmates amid the growing spread of COVID-19 in cells.
Sapohr’s leader Golden Miles Bhudu listed the following for early release: “A release of non-violent first-time offenders. We are demanding that prisoners who are serving more than 10 years, prisoners over 60 years, terminally ill prisoners, parents with dependent children.”
Bhudu said if government did not listen to their demands, they would intensify their hunger strike by stripping off their clothes, adding that not every prisoner was a rapist, child molestor or murderer.
“We are going to go to the kitchen naked,” he said.
The inmates are demanding they be allowed to hand over a list of their grievances to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola
By yesterday, the province of Limpopo had recorded 27 cases of people tested positive and one death and 21 recoveries. The total national cases were at 3 300 with 58 deaths and 1 055 recorded.