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COVID-19: Prisoner’s organisation urges Ramaphosa to release more inmates

The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights says government needs to expand its category for prisoners who qualify for the parole dispensation.

Pollsmoor Prison inmates looking out of a window at the facility. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights says government needs to expand its category for prisoners who qualify for the parole dispensation.

To curb the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and ease overcrowding President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised parole of at least 19,000 inmates.

However, not all prisoners made the cut - those convicted of serious crimes - such as sexual offences, murder, gender-based violence and child abuse have been excluded.

The organisation's spokesperson Golden Bhudu says the criteria is discriminating against prisoners.

He says the president should double the numbers of those expected to be released.

“The president must be reminded that there are terminally ill people in prison who are a waste of taxpayer’s money. These people must be considered. There are people who have never committed these crime but because they don’t have the money to afford the best lawyers in the country.”

The total number of positive cases at correctional service facilities across the country now stands at 177, with 99 officials and 78 inmates.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)