Government bans lawyer consultations with prisoners

20 April 2020 - 16:53 By Zingisa Mvumvu
The government has banned consultations between inmates and their legal representatives in prisons due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The government has banned consultations between inmates and their legal representatives in prisons due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Image: 123RF/Stockstudio44

Lawyers are not allowed to consult clients who are inmates in SA's prisons during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Only those lawyers who apply to the department and whose request meets the “exceptional cases” test will be allowed to consult with prisoners.

Furthermore, national commissioner of prisons Arthur Fraser has banned payment of bail or fines at the country's correctional service facilities.

Fraser was forced to issue this instruction after the regional prisons commissioner for the Western Cape, Delekile Klaas, issued a notice that bail and fines could continue to be paid at correctional centres.

Correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo explained the rationale behind the bans.

“Visits had to be suspended to prevent any possible transmission of the virus,” said Nxumalo.

“Lawyers or legal representatives can make an application to consult an inmate but this must be on exceptional cases. The department must then ensure that such a person is screened before entering our facility and the environment has to be sanitised. But as indicated, this must be on exceptional cases and courts are only sitting for urgent matters,” he said.

Nxumalo said bail and fines could still be paid in court.

Alternatively, he said, families of inmates were advised to transfer money through the post office into the detainee's card account.

The card system for inmates, also referred to as G349, is how they receive money from the outside which they use to buy items at the prison shops.

For the duration of the lockdown, detainees who have been granted bail can use the same system to pay bail without a civilian from outside visiting the prison, said Nxumalo.


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