An example, but not an exception, is the Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility which, according to health monitoring publication Spotlight, currently has 2,908 prisoners but its specified capacity is 1,619.
These are prisoners awaiting trial and are thus theoretically "innocent until proven guilty".
Lukas Muntingh, founder and head of Africa Criminal Justice Reform at the University of the Western Cape, told Spotlight that “social distancing is simply not a possibility in a prison environment and definitely not in one of our large awaiting trial centres, like Pollsmoor or Sun City".
He says a “mass infection” in our prison population could have “catastrophic consequences for the public healthcare system, especially if prisoners suffer serious symptoms and require intensive care".
The bottom line: “Prison hospitals do not have the capacity nor the resources to care for hundreds of sick prisoners.”
Other African countries are faring even worse. According to the world report, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) prison occupancy rate, for example, is estimated at 432% of capacity yet food is budgeted on official capacity.
According to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, quoted in The Lancet: "At least 60 people died from hunger at Kinshasa’s central prison during the first two months of 2020.”
In Niger, awaiting trial prisoners are given no food at all and must rely on family and friends to bring supplies.