The outbreak of the coronavirus has thrust essential services, including the corrections profession, into the spotlight as the first line of defence.
By design, correctional facilities are easily susceptible to becoming incubators of Covid-19. Hence, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has put in place stringent measures to contain the rapid spread of the virus. Men and women in our correctional centres found themselves having to quickly adapt and transform by ensuring speedy implementation of decisions taken at regular meetings of the National Disaster Management Response Team (DMRT). Monitoring and evaluation visits to correctional facilities are undertaken, to confirm progress at the coalface as the situation evolves.
Across the country, gallant correctional officials continue to demonstrate their bravery and patriotism daily by responding to the higher calling of venturing into unchartered and treacherous territories to confront this invisible enemy head-on. The global coronavirus pandemic has brought other harsh realities to the fore. Many have often described corrections as a thankless job, due to the real dangers that our men and women in brown are confronted with every day. Yet, the army of correctional officials has remained resolute and continue to execute their duties of correcting inmates’ deviant behaviour with absolute diligence and dedication. This has confirmed the profession of corrections as a noble calling.
At Helderstroom Medium Correctional Centre, Western Cape Region, little did officials notice that inmates were carefully observing them implementing various protocols to curtail the spread of the virus. Hygiene practices were introduced and all offenders were accordingly inducted, to ensure compliance with health and safety protocols. Wearing of masks, hand-washing and sanitisation has become the norm, thanks to cooperation of inmates. Offenders have been observing and learning hygiene practices from officials, and have ultimately developed a good comprehension of Covid-19 measures that must be adhered to. Inmates from Helderstroom Medium Correctional Centre, A Camp, decided to pen a letter of appreciation to officials, to thank them for their selfless sacrifice to keep offenders safe.
Through their letter, inmates expressed gratitude to officials working in “The forgotten or unnoticed essential service department” – as many in DCS say.
Offenders said, they are inspired by men and women in Correctional Services, who like their counterparts in Health, Defence, SAPS and Metro Police, are playing a huge role in the fight against the coronavirus.
As our Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola said: “We need all hands on deck; those on the front lines are our shield and they will continue to keep us safe”.