Tuesday 2021-09-21




By Bongiwe Dlamini | 2021-01-08

Manzini- AS the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread like wildfire in the country, inmates from His Majesty’s Correctional Services are not spared.

Just yesterday, about 16 inmates housed at the Criminal Mental Health Centre in Matsapha were isolated after testing positive for COVID-19.

This follows that some of the inmates exhibited flu-like symptoms only to test positive for the virus when health practitioners attended to them. It could not be established if these were the only ones to be affected by the virus.

However, insiders said the Criminal Mental Health Centre is a breeding ground for the virus as the inmates are crowded due to limited space.

The fact that some have severe mental health challenges, the source said, is contributing factor to the spread of the virus among the inmates.

However, it could not be ascertained how these inmates contracted the virus, but it could only be speculated that since the officers who work closely with them can access the outside world, they could be carriers of the virus.

Apart from the inmates, some officers who tested positive for the virus were also isolated. Worth noting is that when a new inmate arrives at any correctional facility in the country, they are tested for COVID-19 and isolated for two weeks.

Those who test negative are then transferred to the mainstream facilities while the rest are isolated while being treated.

On another note, further information gathered from sources was to the effect that an inmate who was in the same centre, died yesterday of suspected covid-19.

It was claimed that the inmate had underlying illnesses. Subsequently, the body of the deceased was reportedly collected from the facility by police officers.

When sought for comment, His Majesty’s Correctional Services Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini only confirmed the death of the inmate.

Dlamini was quick to point out that the deceased did not die from COVID-19, but other illnesses which she could not disclose.

When quizzed about the COVID-19 positive inmates said to be at the same centre as the deceased, Dlamini said she was not aware of any.

She then referred any more coronavirus-related questions to the ministry of health, saying neither her nor anyone from the institution was allowed to talk about such issues.

“I can only confirm the death of an inmate who was housed at the Criminal Mental Health Centre but I cannot disclose his cause of death,” she said.

Commissioner General Phindile Lomakhosini Dlamini also conceded that like any other organisation in the country, the correctional services was negatively affected by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

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