Johannesburg – Covid-19 life-saving regulations are allegedly being flouted at Tshwane's Kgosi Mampuru prison following a directive to stop the self-isolation of officials that come into contact with positive cases.
These were the allegations levelled by anxious prison insiders as fear has again gripped the correctional centre after an alleged management directive was circulated this week and signed by the area commissioner E Khoza.
The circular also prohibits staff from quarantining upon returning from funerals, despite Health Minister Zweli Mkhize publicly stating that funerals were “hotspots” for the deadly virus.
In a staff memo, Khoza said: “It has been noted with grave concern the numbers of officials who are on quarantined (sic) is extremely high and unmanageable. Based on the above, you are hereby informed that officials who are attending funerals will no longer be quarantined with effect from September1, 2020.”
Khoza added: “It will be appreciated that all contacts of a positive case (that) needs to be quarantined must refer all contact lists to the Area Co-ordinator Corporate Services for a decision to be taken to quarantine such officials. This arrangement must be effected with effect from September 1, 2020.”
This notice elicited angst among staff members, who claimed that more than 100 inmates were infected with Covid-19 when an official returned to work after allegedly being in contact with his positive wife, who had to be in ICU with severe symptoms.
The Star reported last month that section G2 at the prison had 118 infections on a single day following a routine raid on the section.
In April, Mkhize warned that cultural practices in many African families, where there is little to no physical distancing, caused funerals to be hotspots for the virus.
An official at Kgosi Mampuru died in July after contracting the virus at a funeral.
On Wednesday, the Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said there had to be a review of activities that were suspended during lockdown levels 5 to 3, including workshops, schooling and inmate transfers.
He said additional professional nurses were hired to rigorously screen officials returning from funerals and other permitted gatherings, but that quarantining was only reserved for symptomatic members and those with confirmed positive contacts. He vehemently denied that the 118 infections were caused by a positive official.