‘De­tained sol­diers in soli­tary con­fine­ment’

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

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.

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