The Department of Correctional Services will allow visits to prisons and remand detention facilities, but only under strict conditions. Consultation visits between legal practitioners and inmates, which were banned in April last year, will now be allowed. This resolution followed the recent pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that moved the country to lockdown level 1 from the 1st of March.
The department said visitors will have to observe Covid-19 health protocols as well as the department’s standard operating procedures.
“We rely on members of the public to be honest during screening to prevent any potential infections and cross-contamination. Those who have been in contact with Covid-19 positive cases must say so as that will allow our health-care practitioners to conduct extensive screening, which includes assessing vital signs,” said department spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo.
He said visits were limited to two visitors per inmate per month. Only one visitor per inmate will be allowed at a time. Bookings must be pre-arranged at least 48 hours before the intended visit to ensure proper planning.
Nxumalo said visitors had to wear face masks and arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time. Visits will take place between 9am and 3pm on visit days. He added that consultation visits between lawyers and inmates will be on a non-contact basis.
“Legal practitioners will be expected to make arrangements with the head of centre and must be in possession of an identity document.”
He said on urgent matters, legal representatives and inmates may communicate telephonically after approval from the head of centre has been obtained, in line with the resource capacity of a specific centre.