Prison guards’ go-slow spreads

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

OP­ER­A­TIONS at Maseru, Berea, Butha-buthe and Mo­hale’s Hoek prisons have been se­verely af­fected after disgruntled warders in­ten­si­fied their go-slow in an ef­fort to force gov­ern­ment to re­view their salary and rank struc­tures.

The in­dus­trial ac­tion started at Maseru Cen­tral Prison on Fri­day last week, and has since spread to Berea, Butha-buthe and Mo­hale’s Hoek cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties .

the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day es­tab­lished that as part of the go-slow, the war­dens are not ad­mit­ting new pris­on­ers, and also re­fus­ing to es­cort in­mates to the courts. The guards are also not al­low­ing rel­a­tives to visit in­mates.

le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice Staff as­so­ci­a­tion (LCSSA) chair­per­son, Le­bona­joang ramo­ha­lali, yes­ter­day said the go-slow was get­ting more se­ri­ous with each pass­ing day.

“When the go-slow started on Fri­day last week, we did not al­low con­victs any vis­i­tors and also did not es­cort in­mates to the courts. This time around, warders are no longer ad­mit­ting newly-sentenced of­fend­ers and not tak­ing in­mates to the courts for re­mand hear­ing. The sit­u­a­tion can only get worse if the au­thor­i­ties do not re­spond pos­i­tively to the de­mands for the re­struc­ture of the salaries and ranks, which have been pend­ing since 2011,” Mr ramo­ha­lali said.

le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice (LCS) act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner, Tšolo Mosheoane, told the Le­sotho Times that the au­thor­i­ties were aware of the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion and have been work­ing tire­lessly to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion.

“The Of­fice of the Com­mis­sioner sent out of­fi­cials to the dis­tricts to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and talk to the of­fi­cers who have em­barked on this go-slow. This has been done to en­sure the griev­ances are ad­dressed,” Mr Mosheoane said.

“I can’t say when the mat­ter is go­ing to be re­solved be­cause now it is be­ing dis­cussed at min­is­te­rial level. How­ever, LCS au­thor­i­ties have been made to be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment will re­solve the cri­sis soon.”

Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice min­is­ter, mot­lohi maliehe, was not avail­able for com­ment yes­ter­day as he was said to be out of the coun­try.

Mean­while, Maseru Ur­ban Dis­trict Com­mis­sioner, Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Teboho Ma­saile, yes­ter­day con­firmed that po­lice prison cells were now over­crowded with sus­pects and con­victs who were sup­posed to have been sent LCS fa­cil­i­ties.

“Ours are hold­ing cells; they are only sup­posed to de­tain peo­ple for 48 hours be­fore a sus­pect is taken to court. The pres­sure of hav­ing to keep peo­ple who are sup­posed to go to prison is be­com­ing too much for us be­cause we don’t know how long they are go­ing to be in our cus­tody.

“It is Christ­mas time and we ex­pect many of­fend­ers to be ar­rested so it is a chal­lenge be­cause we don’t have the space to ac­com­mo­date large num­bers,” Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Ma­saile said.

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