Correctional officers sue boss over Scott escape

Correctional officers sue boss over Scott escape

MASERU – SIX Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) officers who were suspended for allegedly helping Lehlohonolo Scott to escape from prison in October 2012 are suing their boss and the government for defamation.
The officers were suspended in June 2014 on allegations that they assisted Scott escape from the Maseru Central Prison.
Scott, a double murder suspect, was awaiting trial for the murder of two people when he made the dramatic escape that sparked public outrage.
He is said to have squeezed himself through a small window in his cell before scaling the fence.

He was being held in solitary confinement in what prison authorities described as the ‘ultra-security section’.
An inquiry led to the suspension of Scaeea Ratsetse, Mohapi Chobokoane, Matlotlo Mabili, Monokoane Sibi, Lelimo Malefetsane and Lebohang Moshetla.

The LCS has never publicly revealed the findings of its investigations into the Scott scandal.
The officers were however quietly reinstated in March 2017.

Now they want the Commissioner of the Correctional Services to undo the damage they say was caused by the suspension.
In court papers filed in the High Court yesterday the officers say the commissioner should pay them M500 000 each in damages.
They say they want the court to order the commissioner to take measures to clear their names.
“The plaintiffs contend that their respective reputations, good name, dignity and respect with the Correctional Service were injured as a result of the interdiction.”
The commissioner’s decision to suspend them, they say, “was malicious, wrongful and unlawful”.
“The plaintiffs continue to suffer stigma as the first defendant has refused and continuously refuses to remove the stigma of wrong doing and ill-disciplined conduct against them and remove same from their respective files.”

They say five of them who are not graduates have never been promoted because of “the stigma attached to their names”.
The commissioner, they say, has refused to remove the record of their suspension from their files. They claim that record has perpetually remained in their employment files, damaging their prospects for promotion.

The officers want the High Court to order the commissioner to write them letters confirming that they were not involved in Scott’s escape.
The record that they were involved in the scandal should also be expunged from the employment records, they say.
They also want the commissioner to state that the investigation into Scott’s escape has been completed.

The letter, they add, should also state that they “did not commit any offence either of criminal or disciplinary nature in relation” to Scott’s escape.
After a year on the run Scott was eventually arrested in Durban. He was working in a church band.
During trial he claimed that the police tortured him to confess that he committed the gruesome murders.
He is charged together with his mother ‘Malehlohonolo Scott.
The trial continues.

Majara Molupe

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