Home News City correctional centre without water as Covid cases surge

City correctional centre without water as Covid cases surge

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Water interruptions also a cause for concern at Vioolsdrift port of entry between South Africa and Namibia

File picture: Soraya Crowie

KIMBERLEY Correctional Centre has been without water for the past nine days despite a reported increase in the number of Covid-19 cases at the facility.

While buckets of water were provided at certain units this week, it was reported that the toilets were blocked and overflowing.

The water was apparently switched on intermittently during the week and buckets were filled, although the water was dirty and muddy.

Public Servants Association (PSA) provincial manager Steve Ledibane said that the facility was provided with water from a dam that was fed through water tanks.

“However, it appears as if the dam has run dry. This creates a recipe for disaster as Covid-19 regulations cannot be followed and inmates have not been able to shower or bath and toilets cannot be flushed,” said Ledibane on Thursday.

“We received information that eight officials, including a nurse and seven inmates, tested positive, while 12 officials were placed under quarantine.”

Ledibane added that PSA members have been advised not to report for duty at the Vioolsdrift port of entry between South Africa and Namibia – which had been operating a 24-hour service throughout the lockdown and included members from the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, SAPS and South African Revenue Service – due to water interruptions.

Ledibane said that leaking toilets and geysers posed a health risk to employees, while public bathrooms and toilets were not cleaned owing to a lack of cleaners.

“A lack of appointed cleaners is creating a safety hazard in terms of Covid-19, while there are no waste bins for used personal protective equipment.

“Public toilets were reported to have no toilet paper since April 2020, where travellers were left in a serious health dilemma.”

He added that the PSA had called for the establishment of an occupational health and safety committee and an inspection of the port of entry, to investigate the alleged lack of compliance.

“It is imperative to ensure regular hand washing, cleaning of offices and ablution facilities to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The entire port of entry is without water. No solution is in place and no response was received from the Department of Home Affairs.

“Failure by the Port Management Control and the authorities responsible for all departments at this port of entry will result in the PSA advising members to refuse to work in unsafe buildings, which in turn means a closure of the Vioolsdrift port of entry,” Ledibane said.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said yesterday that all their centres had contingency measures in place in the event of water interruptions.

“When there are interruptions in the water supply, somehow Correctional Services are expected to be immune from such. We find that to be very interesting. Nevertheless, all our centres in the country have contingency measures in place where we either use water tankers to supply water and some centres have procured tankers to be on-site,” said Nxumalo.

He added that buckets of water were provided to various units during the week following damage to the main pipe.

“The department recognises the importance of keeping and maintaining correctional facilities Covid-19 free and will continue to invest a larger part of its disaster management planning on intensifying preventative measures.

“There are talks to submit daily reports on all preventative and containment activities as well as incidences within the correctional value chain, especially at coalface and in departmental offices, to the Department of Correctional Services’ National Operations Centre.”

Nxumalo indicated that the department was continuing to pay attention to the prevention, containment and treatment of the pandemic through its Covid-19 strategy to save lives and protect each individual accommodated at its premises.

“The department has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment and the stock levels are being monitored daily.”

He advised that behavioural change and adaptation by officials, inmates and those residing within its premises would go a long way in preventing new infections.

The Department of Home Affairs could not be reached for comment.