‘Detained soldiers in solitary confinement’
THE plight of 22 army officers detained at Maseru Maximum Security Prison has worsened with the inmates now in solitary confinement, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
One of the detainees’ lawyers, Advocate Christopher lephuthing, yesterday confirmed the situation to the Lesotho Times.
He said it was strange that the soldiers were still detained yet High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara had ordered their immediate release on 5 October 2015 and last Friday.
“The soldiers are still in detention despite last Friday’s court order,” Advocate lephuthing said.
“Instead, the situation has worsened be- cause they are not allowed to go out of their cells anymore. They are now kept under what is called a solitary confinement.”
Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment in which an inmate is isolated from any human contact, though often with the exception of members of prison staff.
Advocate lephuthing said the detainees’ lawyers were yet to meet and chart a way forward in light of the new developments.
“we haven’t yet met to discuss the matter because it is clear that the army is not yet ready to comply with the order,” he said.
“we could possibly sue them for contempt of court, but the court has already said the commander (lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli) is not in contempt.”
relatives of the detainees told the Lesotho Times yesterday that their visiting time had been reduced from one-and-a-half hours to five minutes.
“when we visited them on Friday, we were told to spend only five minutes with them, which never used to be the case,” said the relative who requested anonymity for fear of victimization.
“The situation has been like that from Friday until today. we are now worried as to how this whole situation will end.”
Meanwhile, in a bizarre incident yesterday, the detained soldiers were ferried one-by-one in two army 4x4 twin cab trucks from the prison compound outside the main gate to the prison in the evening. The Lesotho Times crew and the detainees’ relatives and members of the public also observed the procession.
Some of the relatives told this paper that they had been watched the “drama” since 3pm.
“After doing what looked like signing some document, they were taken to the army bus that was parked somewhere in the prison compound,” the relative said.
“we will not leave this place until we see what is happening to them. we want to see if they leave with that bus or are taken back to their cells.”
Among the people present during the incident was the Transformation resource Centre (TRC) Director Tšoeu Petlane.
However, he said he was not in a position to comment on the situation except that he was also surprised to watch the unusual movement at the prison grounds.