Po­lice lament warders’ go-slow

Lesotho Times - - News - ‘Man­toetse Maama

The on-go­ing go-slow in the pri­son ser­vice has se­verely af­fected po­lice op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) spokesper­son Clif­ford Molefe.

Some Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices (LCS) staff have been on go-slow since De­cem­ber last year, protest­ing gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to re­view their salaries and rank-struc­ture.

As part of the industrial ac­tion, warders are re­fus­ing to ad­mit new in­mates, take those in­car­cer­ated to court, and also deny­ing pris­on­ers their vis­i­tors.

Be­cause the LCS can­not ac­cept new con­victs, po­lice cells have had to serve this crit­i­cal func­tion, thereby stretch­ing LMPS re­sources as the pris­on­ers or sus­pects need to be fed.

The LMPS, Se­nior In­spec­tor Molefe added, had not bud­geted for such ex­pen­di­ture, hence the chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion the po­lice now find them­selves in.

“A sus­pect is sup­posed to be in a hold­ing cell for a max­i­mum of 48 hours be­fore he or she is taken to court, and our bud­get was based on keep­ing and feed­ing the ac­cused for that spe­cific pe­riod.

“But due to the cur­rent go-slow by LCS em­ploy­ees, po­lice cells are now ac­com­mo­dat­ing peo­ple who were sup­posed to be in pri­son and that means we have to pay for their up­keep.

“Our hold­ing cells are now over­crowded be­cause the space is limited since it’s only meant to ac­com­mo­date a very few peo­ple,” Se­nior In­spec­tor Molefe said on Tues­day.

“And be­cause of the LCS go-slow, the courts are cur­rently re­mand­ing peo­ple out of cus­tody or giv­ing out sen­tences that are ac- com­panied with fines.

“But those who have com­mit­ted se­ri­ous crime are be­ing re­manded in our hold­ing cells, which is stretch­ing the po­lice bud­get, like I said since this had not been planned be­fore.”

Se­nior In­spec­tor Molefe fur­ther said the po­lice are now fac­ing an­other chal­lenge — that of pla­cat­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity an­gered by the re­lease of sus­pects be­cause they could not be sent to pri­son due to the LCS go-slow.

“Like I said, sus­pects are sup­posed to be kept in cus­tody for a max­i­mum of two days be­fore they are taken to court. And be­cause of the go-slow, even those who were sup­posed to be re­manded in cus­tody are be­ing re­leased while await­ing their next ap­pear­ance in court.

how­ever, this has not gone down well with their vic­tims, who feel be­trayed by the jus­tice sys­tem be­cause they would have ex­pected the crim­i­nals to be sent to jail.

The po­lice are hav­ing to coun­sel such com­mu­nity mem­bers and also ex­plain the rea­son for the early re­lease.

“We are also sup­posed to deploy more po­lice of­fi­cers to guard those who would have com­mit­ted se­ri­ous crime but re­leased be­cause of the LCS go-slow, so that they don’t leave the coun­try. That also is very costly for the po­lice.”

Mean­while, there ap­pears to be no end in sight to the LCS industrial ac­tion, with the warders in­sist­ing they would only call it off once their griev­ances are fully ad­dressed.

Gov­ern­ment, on the other hand, has called on the ag­grieved LCS mem­bers to end the protest while their griev­ances are be­ing looked into.

prob­lems as food in­se­cu­rity, en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion such as soil ero­sion and lack of im­proved in­puts and farm­ing prac­tices.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions mooted was food di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion through the strength­en­ing of homestead gar­den­ing, key-hole gar­den­ing us­ing green houses and smallscale ir­ri­ga­tion schemes.

Mr Ber­hanu called for syn­er­gies with re­search in­sti­tu­tions and uni­ver­si­ties to come up with ap­pro­pri­ate mod­els for small­holder farm­ers.

The WVL strate­gic plan also com­mits to im­prov­ing the well-be­ing of 550 000 vul­ner­a­ble boys and girls and the qual­ity of life of 210 000 house­holds in the tar­geted com­mu­ni­ties by 2020. They also set out in­crease ac­cess to qual­ity ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion for both boys and girls, im­proved ma­ter­nal, new born, child health and nu­tri­tion as well as re­duc­ing the preva­lence and im­pact of HIV/AIDS.

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