Over 6k prisoners released in S.Africa amid Covid-19 pandemic

South Africa has released over 6,000 inmates in a bid to reduce Covid-19 transmissions in prisons, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced on Wednesday.

The authorities had released a total of over 6,128 inmates as the coronavirus kept spreading in prisons, Cele said at a virtual briefing on the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Xinhua reported.

The release of prisoners is a meticulous process involving victim-offender mediation and the taking of DNA samples by the police, he said.

The released inmates are those who have undergone the relevant rehabilitation programs aimed at correcting their offending behaviour, Cele added.

Progress is also being made to place low-risk inmates on parole as per the parole dispensation, authorized by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Cele said.

Over 3,600 infections have been recorded at the country’s 243 prisons, involving over 2,200 officials and about 1,400 prisoners, said Cele.

In May, Ramaphosa authorized the parole of 19,000 inmates as a measure to combat the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

But only low-risk inmates who are convicted and imprisoned for petty crimes can be released.