Prisoners at the Johannesburg Prison have pleaded with society to understand that they are also human and are entitled to Covid-19 vaccines.

The Department of Correctional Services is aiming to vaccinate more than 800 inmates per day to reach its 10 August deadline.

About 2 569 inmates had been vaccinated across the country by Monday.

Minister Ronald Lamola said vaccinating inmates and officials was essential to prevent the virus from spreading inside prisons.

Lester Abrahams was among the male and female inmates who were inoculated on Tuesday.

Abrahams said he was thrilled to participate in the vaccination process.

“We are overcrowded in prisons. Some officials have to return home after work. If an inmate could infect an official, it is possible that the official could infect his family.

“We know we did wrong. Have we lost our humanity to say inmates don’t matter anymore? I feel grateful for Lamola and the government for giving us a chance to vaccinate. Sentences are ending, and there is still a chance for life. We need to ensure that inmates who are being released don’t infect their communities when they go out.

“People need to understand that there is no social distancing in our cells. Any chance to combat the virus is highly welcome. We need to think about fellow inmates in our cells. I need to play my part to protect myself and them,” said Abrahams.

Taryn Fau was the first female inmate to be vaccinated at the prison.

“We are all sceptical like everyone in the country. This is something new, something we have never seen before. In a situation like ours, you need to be safe. Instead of us making a difference inside, we need to be the difference and good examples.