Pretoria - The Department of Correctional Services (DCS ) on Friday announced that it had recorded five new cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19), bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 177.
“The department of correctional services has recorded three new recoveries from Covid-19 after three officials in the Western Cape tested negative, thus bringing a total number of recoveries to 87,” correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.
“DCS continues to provide support to both officials and inmates who test positive for Covid-19. We have also recorded five new Covid-19 cases, as such, the total number of positive cases is now at 177.”
Earlier on Friday, it emerged that President Cyril Ramaphosa had authorised the parole of 'low-risk' prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa’s overcrowded correctional facilities, which are considered high-risk infection areas.
“The president has taken this step in response to a call by the United Nations to all countries to reduce prison populations so that physical distancing and self-isolation conditions can be observed during this period,” the presidency said in a statement.
"In South Africa, as in many other countries, correctional facilities have witnessed outbreaks of coronavirus infections among inmates and personnel.
“A number of countries across the world have already heeded the call by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and have released a number of offenders in detention.”
The Correctional Services Act makes provision for the president to authorise the parole or correctional supervision of any sentenced prisoner subject to conditions recommended by the correctional supervision and parole board, the presidency said.
“The decision taken by the president to combat the spread of Covid-19 in correctional centres could relieve our correctional services facilities of just under 19 000 inmates out of a population of 155 000.
"The parole dispensation will apply to low-risk inmates who have passed their minimum detention period or will approach this period in the coming five years,” the presidency said.
Inmates sentenced to life imprisonment or serving terms for specified other serious crimes, including sexual offences, murder and attempted murder, gender-based violence and child abuse, will not be considered for parole, the presidency said.
Inmates that will be affected by this decision will be placed on parole instead of having their sentences remitted.
African News Agency/ANA
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