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Prison visits now allowed, but under strict conditions

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Prison visits are now permitted under lockdown.

  • Correctional Services says visits to correctional and remand detention centres are now permitted under strict conditions.  
  • However, the department says the visits are limited to one “non-contact visit per inmate per calendar month”.
  • Bookings must be pre-arranged at least 48 hours prior to the visit.  

Prisoners will now be able to see their families and legal representatives following a decision by the Department of Correctional Services (DSC), allowing visitors at correctional and detention centres where people are awaiting trial.  

The visits will be permitted under strict conditions. 

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola had previously issued directives limiting movement in and out of prisons and courts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

On Monday, the DSC said it had reviewed its Covid-19 risk-adjusted strategy, and that visits would be permitted under strict conditions.  

READ | New Covid-19 app: Here’s how it works

“It is critical for members of the public to observe that visits are limited to one non-contact visit per inmate per calendar month, and only one visitor per inmate at a time,” DCS spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said.

He said bookings must be arranged at least 48 hours prior to the intended visit to ensure proper planning.

Appointment

“As a result, no visits will be allowed without prior appointment,” he said. 

Nxumalo also added that only visitors with face masks as per the approved name-list would be allowed access. 

“Visitors must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the scheduled visit time. Inmates will be allowed to receive items as per their privilege group and as prescribed in the policy,” he said.  

READ | Lockdown regulations always done in the ‘context’ of fighting Covid-19, says Lamola

Visits to the centres would take place between 09:00 and 15:00.

“In centres housing both sentenced and remands categories, and depending on the number of inmates, remand detainees may receive visits on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, excluding public holidays. Whereas, sentenced offenders will be allowed visits on Wednesdays, Thursdays, weekends, and public holidays.

“We rely on members of the public to be honest during screening in order to prevent any potential infections and cross contamination.

Contact

“Those who have been in contact with Covid-19 positive cases must indicate [this], as that will allow our health care practitioners to conduct extensive screening, which includes taking of vital signs. It is important to note that provision of false information is a criminal offence.”

Nxumalo also said consultation visits between legal practitioners and inmates would be non-contact.

Legal practitioners would be expected to make prior arrangements with the heads of the centres and would also be required to provide proof of identity.

“On urgent matters, legal representatives and inmates may communicate telephonically after approval from the head of centre has been obtained, and where circumstances and resources permit.

“As restrictions have been eased across the country, [the] DCS is constantly monitoring the public health situation in each correctional centre, including community transmissions, and take decisions accordingly based on the risk levels.

“If, at any given time, there are new or suspected cases of Covid-19 in a facility or unforeseen circumstances at the premises, this could affect visitations. Those planning a visit should always confirm their visit with the relevant correctional centre before travelling.”

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