No court for at least 2 weeks for Pollsmoor inmates exposed to diphtheria: DCS

An outbreak of the highly contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection at the prison caused the death of a 19-year-old inmate, with eight more prisoners testing positive for it.

Pollsmoor prison gate. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Correctional Services in Western Cape said all inmates at Pollsmoor's Medium A Section in Cape Town will not be attending court cases for at least the next two weeks.

This followed a diphtheria outbreak at the correctional centre that led to the death of a 19-year-old prisoner.

The national Department of Health said the inmate died on Sunday after experiencing symptoms of the infection a week earlier.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection of the respiratory tract.

Eight more inmates are said to have tested positive, with only two experiencing mild symptoms.

Regional Correctional Services Commissioner Delekile Klaas said the courts have been informed about all offenders who will not be able to attend proceedings following the outbreak.

"All offenders who are at Medium A correctional facility are placed under lockdown, which means all those offenders are not allowed to move out of that facility for the next 14 days."

Klaas said so far, no staff member has been infected, and they have been asked to exercise caution.

"Even at home, we advise them to try and contain themselves. I think we are treating this thing more or less similar to how we treated COVID."