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Popcru calls for Arthur Fraser's removal over COVID-19 infections in prisons

The union said as overcrowding in prisons was rising, so were COVID-19 cases.

FILE: Arthur Fraser. Picture: www.ssa.gov.za

CAPE TOWN - The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has called for the immediate removal of the Correctional Service National Commissioner Arthur Fraser.

In a statement on Monday, Popcru said Fraser was ignorant and out of touch with the deteriorating conditions under which correctional officers and centres operated.

There are now 987 active cases of COVID-19 in prisons across the country and the union is concerned.

The union said as overcrowding in prisons was rising, so were COVID-19 cases.

Popcru said between 6 and 16 January, infections within correctional centres increased to over 1,000.

The union's Richard Mamabolo said the increases could be directly linked to a move to increase staff to 100% capacity.

He said this was despite an agreement that 50% of staff should be rotated on a weekly basis.

"Thirty-two thousand members presently have to look after 182,000 prisoners. So, it's quite tough for those who are there because the challenges around overcrowding and understaffing has always been an issue. So we feel that we've lost confidence in Arthur Fraser."

The department said in total, there had been over 10,000 infections linked to prisons, including over 6,000 officials, while 201 staff members and prisoners had died since the outbreak.

"We want to urge our members that any unlawful instruction they are given, they must reject it. If they feel they are not well enough to be at work, they must not go to work," Mamabolo added.

The department said infection prevention control measures were being ramped up at all management areas across the country.

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