Deaths of prisoners spark fears of Covid-19 outbreak at Kgosi Mampuru

File Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

File Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 13, 2020


Johannesburg - Negligence has resulted in 118 new Covid-19 cases in a day and five deaths in less than a week at Kgosi Mampuru, as fear has again gripped the correctional centre.

These are the allegations from multiple sources within the centre that a prison official, whose wife was in ICU recently due to severe Covid-19 symptoms, was part of a prison raid on inmates last Thursday, which resulted in a “big problem of an outbreak” at Kgosi Mampuru.

The Star has also seen an internal communiqué from its acting head, identified only as Ms Mlangeni, who confirmed to staff on Tuesday that 118 new positive cases had been recorded at the centre’s G2 section, which has about 400 inmates.

Sources, including employees and convicts, said this followed Thursday’s raid by an alleged rogue official.

“When they searched G2, what happened was that very same member was part of the search group.

“Now there is a big problem; there is an outbreak. They tested the inmates on Thursday, and the results came back on (Tuesday). There are 118 positive cases in a section of 400 inmates.

“We are having an outbreak of coronavirus inside Kgosi Mampuru, and it has been hidden from the media,” said an insider, who asked to remain anonymous.

Sources added that five inmates, whose names are known to The Star, had died since Thursday following alleged complications with the virus.

Things came to a head on Wednesday when convicts at G2 shared pictures with The Star of being “caged like animals” and refused meals, as the centre supposedly floundered in how to react to the renewed outbreak.

“Prison wardens don’t want to work in this section because they are afraid, and we don’t blame them. The emergency support team tried to take some inmates late (Wednesday) and beat up some offenders with batons because they didn’t want to leave the cells,” a prisoner said.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Logan Maistry, however, said there was no outbreak, and that Kgosi Mampuru had only two confirmed Covid-19 deaths since July.

He said “instigators” were exaggerating case numbers to cause chaos within correctional centres.

“Accordingly, inmates who tested positive will be isolated from the rest of the population, quarantined and monitored. All affected cells have been decontaminated and correctional centres have quarantine facilities. In addition, supplementary temporary quarantine sites are in place.”

The Star

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