Prison staff being turned away from shops because of Covid-19 stigma
JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has strongly condemned scowling and stigmatisation of correctional services officials due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The DCS said in a statement that the situation was getting 'unpalatable', especially in the Eastern Cape province.
"Officials are subjected to inhumane treatment when visiting shops and other public places. This is abhorrent conduct of worst form and it has no space in the collective efforts of preventing the spread of coronavirus.
"We have noted with dismay behaviour of some shop owners who have denied our officials access to their outlet, even worse, members of the community are pointing fingers at the brown uniform and stigmatising our officials."
The DCS said that this treatment of their staff is negatively affecting their officials, who render an essential service.
"It is demoralising and unhealthy to a workforce that has to render corrections during this trying time. We condemn such behaviour in strongest possible terms and urge the public to desist from practicing behaviour that undermines all efforts in the fight against Covid-19."
According to the DCS, the Department of Health and other partners continue to demystify confusion, anxiety and fear amongst the public and said that attempts to associate Covid-19 to a particular workforce can only reverse the gains the country has achieved thus far.
"DCS has been very transparent in its quest to inform South Africans about Covid-19 developments in correctional facilities. Daily reports are provided and this is complemented by activities or measures employed in terms of prevention, containment and treatment to those testing positive. Stigma can only undermine social cohesion and encourage social isolation of certain groups. Today it is Correctional Services being marginalised and this could extend to other groups should this virulent behaviour be allowed to prevail," the DCS further said.