The Barberton Maximum Correctional Services offenders received their jab following the vaccination rollout programme of inmates at Correctional Centres.
244 inmates were vaccinated during the launch. The Area Commissioner of Barberton Correctional Facilities, Midjohn Mhlongo assured offenders that the vaccine is meant to protect them against the pandemic. In his Address, Area Commissioner said he is leading from the front. “As assurance that we mean good by vaccinating you, I am going to lead by example and be vaccinated in your full view. They are going to give you the same vaccine like the one they are administering on me so that all of us can be safe,” Mhlongo said.
The head of Maximum Correctional Centre, Antony Mashabane, and Area Coordinator Corrections also received their jabs. Offender Pebane Butiki joined the queue although he said he was skeptical about vaccinating. However, seeing the facility’s management taking jabs in full view of everyone made him confident that the vaccine is meant to save them.
Another offender, Sizwe Sibiya serving 15 year’s imprisonment for rape is one of the offenders is among those who vaccinated. He described the rollout as a moment of hope. “I am so excited that the government included inmates on groups of people who will be receiving the vaccine. At some point, I felt like the situation is a ticking time bomb since the resurgence was spiking. I thought one day I will wake up to mass infection, become a victim and succumb to the pandemic but today I take this vaccine with pride knowing that my life will be safe.”
One offender who went against all odds and is Simphiwe Radebe convicted for Murder. Radebe said that when they were told that they are going to be vaccinated for Covid-19, they had a lengthy discussion about the vaccine and its side effects. Offenders were spreading unfounded allegations about the vaccine but he believed that people should follow their conscience and not what people say.
The vaccination programme is expected to continue throughout the month at facilities that accommodate 3600 inmates at Maximum, Medium B, Town Youth, Lydenburg, and Nelspruit Correctional Centre which accommodates Remand Detainees and female offenders.