The Department of Correctional Services has announced that inmates can now receive visits at correctional facilities across the country.
In a statement on Monday, 7 September 2020, the department said the decision came after it reviewed its COVID-19 risk-adjusted strategy.
“Inmate visits to correctional centres and remand detention centres shall be permitted under strict conditions, observing COVID-19 health protocols, as well as departmental Standard Operating Procedures”, said department spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in August that the country would move to alert level 2.
“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”, Phiri added.
However, there are some conditions, including that bookings be made 48 hours prior to the visit to ensure proper planning. Visitors are also required to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the commencement of the scheduled visit time.
“As a result, no visits will be allowed without prior appointment. Only visitors with face masks, as per the approved name list, will be allowed access”.
Prisoners will also be allowed to receive items.
DSC: ‘We are constantly monitoring the situation’
“At centres housing both sentenced and remand 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”, Phiri said.
The department has further stressed that it relied on members of the public to be honest during screening in order to prevent any potential infections and cross contamination.
“Those who have been in contact with COVID-19 positive cases must indicate, 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 offense”, the department said.
Engagements between legal practitioners and inmates will be non-contact and the correct COVID-19 health and safety measures need to be applied.
“As restrictions have been eased across the country, DCS is constantly monitoring the public health situation in each correctional centre, including community transmissions, and take decisions accordingly, based on the risk levels”, it added.
“If, at any given time, there are new or suspected cases of COVID-19 at a facility or unforeseen circumstances at the premises, this could affect visitation. Those planning a visit should always confirm their visit with the relevant correctional centre before travelling”
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