Covid-19: Human rights group wants 24 000 more prisoners released

Covid-19: Human rights group wants 24 000 more prisoners released

- The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights was 24 000 prisoners to be released

- The 19 000 already announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in their view, are simply not enough

- This comes as the government scurries to relieve overcrowding with the threat of Covid-19 looming over the system

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The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights has called on the government to release an additional 24 000 prisoners from jails around the country.

The SABC reports that there are at least 571 confirmed cases of Covid-19 affecting prison officers and inmates.

Miles Bhudu, the CEO of the group, has penned an open letter to Ramaphosa in the hopes of engaging with him over the issue:

“When we checked the annual report of the documents 2018/2019 there are 162 875 the infrastructure has been built to accommodate anything between 118 000 to 120 000 warm bodies and head count.
"For them to bring down that total to plus minus 120 they need to add another 24 000 prisoners that need to be released including awaiting trial prisoners. We have written to the president an open letter and we hope he will take our concerns into consideration.”

READ ALSO: Mzansi not on board, Ramaphosa releasing 19 000 prisoners: “Bad move”

The South African Sentenced and Awaiting Trial Prisoners Organisation claims that the spread of the virus in prison systems has gotten out of hand, while the Department of Correctional Services says its appointed experts to help,

393 of the positive cases in SA correctional centres are inmates while 178 are officials, placing strain on an already-strained system.

In a statement issued by the department, it noted that the majority of cases were recorded in the Eastern Cape:

“It must be noted that on 5 May 2020, a total of 477 inmates were tested at East London. The first batch of results was received on 11 May 2020 confirming 103 positive cases, 78 testing negative whilst 277 results remained outstanding. DCS is now able to affirm that 178 of the 277 inmates also tested positive which illustrate the upturn in East London." reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced 19 000 prisoners would carefully be released into the general population in a bid to minimise overcrowding in the face of the pandemic.

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