Inmates at Johannesburg Prison, popularly known as Sun City, are confident they will be safe during the global Covid-19 outbreak, saying their main concern was overcrowding in the facility.
“The country is on Day 12 of the shutdown [but] we are on Day 22. We were shut down on the 15th of March. If it [the virus] broke out in the female section, we would have had it by now because we have passed the 14-day period. The only way we could get it is if someone brought it in,” inmate Lucille Borrill, 53, told News24 on Wednesday.
The prison, which has about 9 000 inmates and 1 575 officials, received a visit from Justice Minister Ronald Lamola who was launching mass screenings at correctional facilities.
Borrill has been an inmate for six years and lives in a communal cell with 21 others.
“We stay 19 inches apart, it is difficult to keep your distance from one another but we sanitise and we are cleaning as much as possible,” she said.
READ | 16 000 inmates screened so far, says Lamola
Vuyo Ngaba, 37, who has been an inmate in the men’s section for 18 years, believes he is more “privileged” than other inmates as he lives in a single cell.
“I am fortunate because I live in a single cell but there are other inmates who must share and then social distancing becomes a challenge because of the population of the centre, there is not enough space,” he said.
The only issue for both inmates are the officials they interact with on a daily basis when they need to get food, head to the courtyard, prison library, etc.
“I think we are safe as inmates because we are on lockdown. We do not have visitors but we are concerned about officials because they can leave, they can go out to see their families and then return to the facility,” Ngaba said.
As of Wednesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced South Africa had 1 845 confirmed cases and 18 deaths.