Correctional facilities countrywide have been placed on lockdown in an attempt to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 within the facilities.
The lockdown started on 8 July, and will last until 31 July.
“The aim of the directive is to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 into the correctional institutions through various measures and operational procedures,” said commissioner general Raphael Hamunyela in a statement.
He indicated that all court attendances at all magisterial districts are suspended, unless otherwise directed by court through his office. Visitations at the facilities are also not permitted during the lockdown.
Official visits between inmates and their lawyers will only be allowed if such consultations cannot be done via telephone. In such event, Hamunyela said visitations will be subjected to proper health screenings before the visitor is allowed entry. Furthermore, lawyers are required to communicate with the officer in charge prior to their visit to a prison.
Inmates and their families are thus encouraged to make use of telephones and other forms of communication as there will be no face-to-face visitations.
Furthermore, new inmates will be subjected to a seven-day isolation period before being entered into the living sections.
“If an inmate exhibits signs or symptoms, he or she will be placed under isolation either at the facility’s clinic or available isolation cells, and will be monitored,” explained Hamunyela.
Transfers of inmates between prisons are likewise suspended, but will be considered when there is an urgent need and there is no alternative.
All escorts to public healthcare facilities are also placed on suspension, unless it is an emergency.
Hamunyela indicated that despite the measures in place, the facilities will continue with the rehabilitation programmes, which will be done in small groups of eight inmates and two facilitators. The sessions will only last for two hours. All agricultural activities will be allowed during the lockdown. However, physical activities for inmates will be suspended.