THE outbreak of measles at Johannesburg Prison has forced the Department of Correctional Services to restrict the movement of prisoners - and stop visitors coming near the facility.
About 3000 prisoners scheduled to appear in 27 courts around Johannesburg were stopped from leaving the prison. Court appearances were cancelled yesterday and will remain so for the next 10 days. This means that cases will only resume on Wednesday next week.
Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said quarantining the prison was in the best interests of the prisoners.
"We do not want the public to panic over the situation. Nobody has died. Quarantining of prisoners is done as a precautionary measure. At present only two inmates are in hospital after contracting measles. The situation is under control," said Mapisa-Nqakula.
"We have begun with a vaccination programme for all the inmates and staff. There are a few who have indicated that they do not want to be immunised again and we have arranged for them to be in isolation. Should any of them contract the measles, we vaccinate those who have come into contact with the infected person," the minister said.
Johannesburg Prison has reported 51 cases of measles. There were no new cases recorded yesterday. More than 800 people, including staff, have been vaccinated at the facility since the beginning of the programme on October 12.
Mapisa-Nqakula said measures were in place to deal with the delays caused by the quarantine programme.