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Striking prison guards refuse to assist inmates

 

Keiso Mohloboli and ‘Mantoetse Maama

Voting only started around 2pm yesterday at Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Butha-Buthe and Teyateyaneng (TY) prisons due to the warders’ on-going go-slow.

The guards refused to assist Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials conduct the election for inmates, with the voting only going ahead after lunch when senior Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) officials intervened.

Voting for representatives of the 9th National Assembly was supposed to start at 7am.

LCS Staff Association general secretary, Lebonajoang Ramohalali, yesterday told the Sunday Express that the refusal was meant to remind the LCS management that the guards were not backing down on their demands for better salaries.

“The prisoners could not vote from morning as expected due to the on-going go-slow by the warders, which started in December last year.

“Our complaints are still the same; we want a salary adjustment and restructure of our ranks. The new government that will emerge from today’s vote should know that we won’t stop the go-slow until our grievances are addressed,” Mr Ramohalali said.

LCS Acting Commissioner, Mosheoane Tšolo, said senior correctional service officials had to intervene and ensure the inmates exercised their right to vote.

“Because of the go-slow among the warders, there weren’t enough LCS officials to help the IEC conduct voting among inmates in Mokhotlong, TY, Butha-Buthe, Mohale’s Hoek and Thaba-Tseka prisons,” Mr Tšolo said.

“For instance, I had to rush to Mohale’s Hoek to oversee the electoral process. “However, we eventually managed to complete the voting process despite the delay in starting the vote.”

Meanwhile, there was voter-apathy at Maseru Central Female Prison where only 50 of the 240 inmates registered for the election cast their vote.

An IEC official responsible for the poll at the prison, Tšolo Phoofolo, confirmed the apathy, adding voting started at 9am and not 7am as expected.

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