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Correctional officer in hot soup over inmate’s death

by Sunday Express
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Pascalinah Kabi

A SENIOR Thaba-Tseka Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Superintendent Tuoata Makoetje is in hot soup over the death of a male inmate who was detained at the correctional facility in that district.

Supt Makoetje is in charge of the Thaba-Tseka LCS correctional facility. LCS spokesperson Supt Mopeli said police were investigating the cause of the inmate’s death.

Sources within the LCS told the Sunday Express that LCS Commissioner Thabang Mothepu asked Supt Makoetje to answer for the death of the inmate who was allegedly physically abused by LCS officers as punishment for allegedly sodomising a fellow inmate.

“An inmate sodomised a suspect who was awaiting trial in custody at the Thaba-Tseka facility,” a source said, adding “the sodomised suspect reported the matter to the officials”.

Another source said the inmate died after being subjected to physical punishment by the LCS officers by the LCS officials on duty who attempted to sweep the issue under the carpet.

“The matter was swept under the carpet but it eventually caught the attention of Commissioner Mothepu who travelled to Thaba-Tseka on 20 January 2020,” a source said.

After some investigations, Commissioner Mothepu is said to have written to Supt Makoetje, demanding that the latter gives reasons why disciplinary measures should not be taken against him over the issue in his capacity as the head of Thaba-Tseka correctional service facility.

“Commissioner Mothepu wrote Makoetje a “show cause” asking him to justify why he (Mothepu) should not take disciplinary measure against him,” the source said.

Contacted for comment, Commissioner Mothepu’s brief response was that, “I am not aware of that issue”.

Sources within the correctional services say LCS Commissioner Thabang Mothepu wants Superintendent Makoetje to answer for the death of this particular inmate.

On his part, Supt Makoetje said he was not in a position to discuss the matter with the media. He said he only gave interviews when cleared to do so by Supt Mopeli.

“I have given all the details of the case to Morena Mopeli.  He (Mopeli) is the one who will tell you everything you need to know.

“I am not allowed to talk to the media unless Morena Mopeli calls and tells me to talk to you,” Supt Makoetje said.

On his part, Supt Mopeli confirmed that an inmate had died at the Thaba-Tseka correctional facility.

“It is normal for an inmate to die in our facilities and I can confirm that an inmate died in Thaba-Tseka. But what usually happens is that once an inmate dies, the matter is reported to the police for investigations. Police investigations are ongoing,” Superintendent Mopeli said.

He added: “Unless Ntate Makoetje is the one who told you about his (show cause), I cannot discuss it with you”.

He said it was important for the media to understand that there were internal communications which could not be discussed with the public.

The police officer commanding the Thaba-Tseka District Supt Thabo Mohai said investigations into the matter were at advanced stage.

“I can only confirm that investigations into this matter are at a very advanced stage,” Supt Mohai said.

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