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Decontamination at Pollsmoor after rats kill inmates

A rat infestation and poor waste management at the Tokai facility has exacerbated the outbreak.

FILE: It's believed the rat infestation and poor waste management at the Tokai facility has exacerbated the outbreak. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Almost 5,000 Pollsmoor inmates will be relocated to facilities around the Western Cape for up to eight weeks to prevent further exposure to an infectious disease.

A potential outbreak of leptospirosis, a disease carried by rats, caused alarm last week when two inmates died after they had been bitten by infected rodents.

It's believed the rat infestation and poor waste management at the Tokai facility has exacerbated the outbreak.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union's (Popcru) Richard Mamabolo says Pollsmoor's decontamination strategy will go a long way to address the deteriorating prison conditions.

"We are quite happy that there is finally an evacuation taking place. We are concerned with the level of overcrowding within our prisons across the country, not only in Pollsmoor."

He adds the evacuation is assisting authorities to ensure that everything is up to standard at the facility.

At the same time, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases recommended the prison be cleared of all rats before inmates return.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Inmates are not the only ones affected by the infestation.

Popcru has raised an alarm about working conditions at the facility.

Mamabolo said nobody should be re-admitted until the problem has been addressed.

"Whatever illnesses or challenges are experienced by the inmates also affects the prison warders and other staff."

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