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City prison wardens complain of ‘overcrowding’

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Kimberley prison wardens complain of ‘overcrowded’ working conditions

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THE PUBLIC Servants Association (PSA) has expressed concern about “overcrowded” working conditions of officials at Kimberley Correctional Centre and Tswelopele Correctional Centre, where they believe that Covid-19 health regulations are not being adhered to.

PSA provincial manager Steve Ledibane stated yesterday that employers are expected to ensure that social distancing measures are implemented in the workplace and that congestion is avoided.

“In terms of a circular that was issued by the national Department of Correctional Services (DCS) on November 1, office hours should be staggered or flexi-time introduced to ensure that offices are not overcrowded since workers returned to 100% capacity,” said Ledibane.

He indicated that the PSA had requested the area commissioner in the Northern Cape to address the issue of a “lack of consideration for the life of DCS officials”, but to date had not received any feedback.

“There have been a number of confirmed Covid-19 infections among staff and inmates at these two facilities. Non-compliance with the Covid-19 regulations is creating a health risk to officials.”

Ledibane also claimed that there was an inadequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, at the facilities.

The spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, said yesterday that the allegations were without substance.

“As of November 18 there are no new (Covid-19) cases in the Free State or Northern Cape. We understand that people want to remain relevant during this time but people must stick to facts and stop fabricating stories,” said Nxumalo.

“All these allegations were dealt with in the past and they are coming back again. There is no correctional centre in this country without sufficient PPEs. There have been various engagements on how we need to bring officials back to work whilst ensuring that we still keep preventative measures in place. Labour has been engaged on these issues.”

Nxumalo said that there were a total of 771 confirmed cases of officials and 148 inmates who were infected in the Northern Cape and Free State.

“There have been 871 recoveries. The total number of deaths include 15 officials and six inmates according to the regional breakdown. The total national recovery rate at the Department of Correctional Services is 96 percent.”