The Department of Correctional Services is ramping up efforts to keep prisoners safe at the Pollsmoor prison after an inmate died of diphtheria earlier this month.
In a media briefing on Monday, National Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale confirmed that the 19-year-old succumbed to the disease.
He said the inmate was brought back from court on October 17 and was transferred to an outside medical facility for treatment.
"He received further treatment and was tested for diphtheria, and the results came back positive on November 2. Unfortunately, the inmate’s condition deteriorated, and he sadly passed away on November 5 at Groote Schuur Hospital," he said.
Following the cause of death confirmation, the department started contact tracing to determine other inmates or officials who had been in contact with the deceased.
Thobakgale identified 54 remand detainees from B Section at Medium A and they were isolated, and an assessment was conducted.
Thobakgale said eight of the 54 tested positive.
"We have 15 Correctional Services officials that were identified as contacts, with only three presenting symptoms. They were tested and released to isolate at home. The provisional results have since come back negative, awaiting confirmatory results," he said.
The department has set up a vaccination campaign to ensure that all eligible individuals receive the diphtheria vaccine, and so far, 342 inmates have been vaccinated.
Thobakgale added that inmates and staff members are once again being educated and encouraged to practice enhanced hygiene, including regular hand-washing with soap and water, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and the use of hand sanitisers.
He added that facilities are being deeply cleaned in an effort to minimise the risk of disease transmission.