Johannesburg - The government gives prisoners better medical treatment than members of the public, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Thabang Makwetla said on Monday.
“You find that there is better medical facilities given from government in prison than out there,” he told reporters at Johannesburg prison on World Aids Day.
“I'm sorry I said that, but it is the truth,” he said.
Makwetla said the idea that the country's prisons were disease-infested and that the health of inmates was neglected was incorrect.
“It is actually the opposite. I was amazed at the intensity of healthcare given at correctional centres,” he said.
Makwetla has visited six prisons in the past few days.
Statistics released by the correctional services department showed that nationally, 50 percent of inmates were tested for HIV/Aids in the 2012/2013 financial year, 68.7 percent in the 2013/2014 financial year, and 52 percent from April to September 2014.
It was not known how many of them were infected.
However, 97 percent of HIV-positive prisoners were receiving antiretroviral treatment.
The Johannesburg prison, commonly known as Sun City, which holds about 8000 prisoners at any one time, had about 700 inmates on ARVs.
Makwetla said the fight against tuberculosis (TB) was being intensified at the prison, with all inmates screened for the disease since the start of the financial year. A laboratory on site could give results within two hours.
Medical technician Tebadiso Mofokeng said the prison had a 100 percent success rate in treating TB.
In the past year, only one person was found to have drug-resistant TB, she said. He was referred to a medical facility outside the prison for treatment.
Makwetla said the prison was doing well combating HIV/Aids and TB.