Barberton Management Area, in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West (LMN) region, is hard at work converting a correctional facility, previously used to accommodate low-risk offenders and also as a release centre, into a Covid-19 quarantine and isolation centre for inmates.
Upon completion, the 24-hour facility will be able to accommodate more than 100 Covid-19 patients from Witbank and Bethal management areas in the Mpumalanga province. Offenders who were accommodated at the centre have since been moved to other correctional facilities within the management area.
LMN Regional Coordinator Health Care, Ms Annah Makhubela indicated that the quarantine centre will be boosted with 12 nurses who will be taking care of coronavirus patients. “We are in the process of recruiting full-time nurses who will be working in the centre. The facility will also be equipped with state-of-the-art apparatus,” said Makhubela.
Acting Regional Commissioner (RC) for LMN, Mr Raynold Ndema recently visited the management area to track progress made on the project. “I am happy with the progress so far, and the project is running smoothly. I believe that the management area is ready for any eventuality in terms of Covid-19. If the management area can continue at this pace, come month end, the centre will be up and running,” said Ndema.
The acting RC also acknowledged the involvement of offenders in refurbishment of the centre. “It pleases me to see that inmates are hands-on in this project. This will capacitate them in various skills needed in the construction industry, and, upon release, they can use such skills to seek employment or even create business opportunities,” he said.
Barberton Management Area entered into a bilateral agreement with local hospitals as a contingency plan while the project is underway. The agreement ensures that offenders will be treated at local hospitals if they contract the virus before the centre is completed. Healthcare workers and Occupational Health Practitioners were also sent for training by the Department of Health.
The centre is expected to be ready to admit patients before the end of June.
The Mpumalanga Quarantine Centre will accommodate male offenders only, as female patients will be treated at Modimolle Quarantine Centre in Limpopo province.
Post-coronavirus, the hospital will continue to be utilised as a 24-hour healthcare centre for Barberton offenders.