Following confirmation of seven Covid-19 inmate cases at Kgoši Mampuru’s Local Remand Detention Centre on 23 April 2020, area management moved swiftly to mitigate and prevent rapid spread of the virus.
Four weeks later, all inmates have recovered and the management area remains with seven confirmed cases.
Considering its population size, there were reasonably founded fears and expectations of the rapid spread of the coronavirus at the management area.
The Remand Detention Centre houses almost four thousand (4 000) inmates, with approximately 40 inmates in one communal cell. It is one of the most overcrowded remand centres in DCS due to the number of district courts it services in parts of Gauteng, Limpopo and the North West provinces. The risk of rapid internal transmission is much greater in such congested settings, where observing social distancing is practically impossible.
According to the Area Commissioner, Mr Emmanuel Khoza, this would have not been possible if it was not for the combined efforts of officials and inmates who were willing to cooperate and work together to avert a mass scale spread of infections. “The coronavirus is a respiratory virus and is spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing and by touching. As long as people continue to observe social distancing, wear masks, wash hands with soap, sanitize, screen and control their movements frequently, we will be better off,” said Khoza. He indicated that officials and inmates are trying by all means to adhere to the mitigation and prevention measures.
The quick isolation of inmates who tested positive, quarantining of suspected cases and mass testing as well as increased awareness about Coronavirus assisted to contain the spread of the virus. Moreover, extensive measures such as the weekly decontamination of the centre, installation of sanitizer holders at key points, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), aggressive screening at all entry points as well as mass testing commissioned by the Gauteng Department of Health has helped to minimise the impact of this deadly disease.
AC Khoza also appreciated assistance from the Gauteng Department of Health and the Church of Scientology. The Gauteng Department of Health availed resources to ensure that all inmates and officials are tested, while the Church of Scientology sanitized all offices in all centres and management area offices. “With 80% of the mass screening and testing campaign completed, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that all our efforts were not in vain as we await more results of both inmates and officials,” he said.
As the country’s, especially the departments’ coronavirus outbreak picks up – with confirmed cases creeping over 670 nationally, we all begin to see the benefits of the country’s lauded mass screening and testing. This move allows us knowledge of what we are dealing with and the extent to which we are affected.
Mr Khoza hastened to warn that the management area has not dodged the bullet yet. Accordingly, he reiterated the call for everyone in the management area to stand strong and make it their personal business to fight Covid-19. “Let us intensify our efforts to prevent the spread, and, most importantly, let us be knowledgeable and continuously teach our people about the virus and how it thrives,” ended Khoza.