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Prison staff turned away from shops because of Covid-19 stigma

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Certain shop owners were denying officials access to their outlets.

THE DEPARTMENT of Correctional Services has urged the public to desist from stigmatising Correctional Services officials due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where it stated they were being subjected to inhumane treatment. 

Department of Correctional Services (DCS) spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said certain shop owners were denying officials access to their outlets. 

“This is abhorrent conduct of the worst form. Even worse, members of the community are pointing fingers at the brown uniform and stigmatising our officials,” said Nxumalo.

“Such treatment is negatively affecting our officials who render an essential service. It is demoralising and unhealthy to a workforce that has to render corrections during this trying time. We condemn such behaviour in the strongest possible terms.”

He pointed out that the department had been transparent in its quest to keep citizens informed about all developments at its correctional facilities. 

“Daily reports are provided and this is complemented by activities or measures employed in terms of prevention, containment and treatment to those testing positive.” 

Nxumalo added that the Department of Health and other partners continued to educate the public and minimise confusion, anxiety and fear. 

“Attempts to associate Covid-19 to a particular workforce can only reverse the gains the country has achieved thus far. 

“Stigma undermines social cohesion and encourages social isolation of certain groups. Today it is Correctional Services being marginalised and this could extend to other groups should this virulent behaviour be allowed to prevail.”