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Ombudsman wants prison warders prosecuted

THE Ombudsman, Advocate Tlotliso Rapolaki, says 40 prison warders who tortured, injured inmates and killed one must be criminally investigated and prosecuted. Her recommendations come after hundreds of inmates at the Maseru Central Correctional Institution were beaten up following the escape of six prisoners on December 22 last year.

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The warders searched cells and claimed that some inmates had refused to be searched hence they resorted to beating them.

In particular, they referred to nine soldiers awaiting trial as the ones who refused to be searched.

However Advocate Rapolaki found that “it is not true that the inmates refused to be searched”.

“This issue of beating inmates was premeditated and planned by the recruits who were not happy with the behaviour of inmates during their previous search that was done two weeks before the incident,” Advocate Rapolaki said.

Advocate Rapolaki released her findings of the violence on Tuesday.

She said her recommendations should be implemented within six months of the issuance of her report.

She found that out of 650 inmates who were in the prison on that day 300 were badly beaten by 114 prison warders.

One of the inmates, Bokang Tsoako, was killed during the torture.

Among the tortured inmates were soldiers Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeants Malefane Heqoa, Motsamai Fako, Corporals Marasi ’Moleli, Mohlalefi Seitlheko, Lance Corporals Motsieloa Leutsoa, Tieho Tikiso, Mahlomola Makhoali, Warrant Officer Liphapang Sefako, Privates Nthatakane Motanyane, Sebilo Sebilo, Mahlehle Moeletsi, and Nyatso Tšoeunyane.

Another inmate, Tlotliso Bereng, 38, had his backbone dislocated.

“The doctors have confirmed that he will never be able to walk again, and (that he should be) taken back to his family to take care of him,” the Ombudsman said.

“It is unfortunate that Bereng’s engineering career ended abruptly due to the merciless beating he was subjected to,” she said.

“The LMPS should investigate further the circumstances that led to the death of the deceased Bokang Tsoako, who died at the institution following his re-arrest executed by correctional officers.”

She said all the inmates were denied a right to see a doctor after being badly beaten.

She said while looking at their wounds she saw that they needed attention “but they were never taken to hospitals”.

She said a specialist doctor who was later called into the prison only managed to help 18 inmates while the rest were left unattended.

She has also found that batons, sticks and gumboots were used to beat the prisoners on that day.

“I saw a disturbing video footage of what transpired there, it is so disheartening,” she said.

She said they also found that the inmate’s torture had been happening for a long time.

One of her recommendations includes that the Correctional Service commissioner “should take administrative action against Correctional Officer Tololi Ratšele and Correctional Officer Motanya, the recruits’ supervisors”.

“The Ombudsman finds the officers culpable of dereliction of duty by abrogating their duties and failing to halt the general search operation when they could not contain the officers,” she said.

Advocate Polaki also recommended that the commissioner should institute disciplinary action against Officer Kabelo Liholo and Officer Sechaba Mokoara who opened the cells across the blocks and were present during the search.

“Instead of opening one cell at a time, they went on to open four for the warders to get in and cause havoc.”

She said the warders who were at the forefront of beating the inmates in Block A were Thetso, Lehlohonolo Posholi, Ntšekhe, Lereko Lephoi, Sello Matube, Monyane Motsoalisa, Tšepo Mokhethi, Lekhoko, Makintane, Nkeo Mohlakola, Thabo Lebone, Tšepo Borotho, Thabiso Jane, and Mosola.

She said in Block C, there were Sepiriti Malefane, Tumelo Thabane, Maese Ramashamole, Mphutlane Ntaisane, Moleleki, Thabiso Jane, Tsietsi Tsietsi, Seeiso Makotoko, Sekokotoana, Masilo Mokhele, Thabo Seakhoa, Teboho Mafemekoane, Sello Matube, and Letsielo Makhele.

In Block B Polaki said the warders were Molibeli Molibetsane, Mphutlane Ntai, Molaoa Mothabeng, Khosi Hlalele, Potsane Potsane, Lehlohonolo Potsanyane, Thabang Moleleki, Tumelo Makhunoane, Mahooaneng Matjama, Khutlang Telite, Tšepo Nthafa, Matete Mahao, Tšepo Mokhethi, Poloko Mokobocho and Mamasieane.

She added that Block D search party was led by Kaana Mosothoana, Letlatsa Mokhothotso, Masilo Mokhele, Mosebeko, Kopano Tseka, Thabiso Jane, Tšeliso Mochaba, Thabang Moleleki, Samuel Sekhale, Sila, Khutso, Retšelisitsoe Felleng, Seapa Matsoso, Limpho Makhetha, Thabo Mohale, Katleho Fako, Tsietsi Tsietsi, Fukuzana, Molelle, Molatelle, Paseka, Tšeliso Mochaba, and Notsi.

The Maximum Security section was searched by Motiki Mohale, Lehlohonolo Potsanyane, Thabang Moleleki, Samuel Sekhale, Kopano Silase, Sepiriti Malefane, Tumelo Thabane, Maese Ramashamole, Mphutlane Ntaitsana, Moleleki, Thabiso Jane, Tsietsi Tsietsi, Seeiso Makotoko, Sekokotoana, Masilo Mokhele, Thabo Seakhoa, Teboho Mafemekoane, Sello Matube, Monyane Motsoalisa, Tšepo Mokhethi, Lekhoko, Paseka Mosebekoa, Lereko Lephoi, Teboho Mafemekoane, Paseka Mochaba, Sehloho, and Tšeliso Mochaba.

She recommended that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, should take action against Officer Motiki Mohale, Matete Mahao, Lehlohonolo Ralebese, Khosi Hlalele, Lehlohonolo Thetso, Lehlohonolo Posholi, Sepiriti Malefane and Lehlohonolo Moabi.

Nkheli Liphoto

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