‘Kamoli  is a model  prisoner’

‘Kamoli is a model prisoner’

MASERU – Tlali Kennedy Kamoli, who has been a guest of the state at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison since October last year, remains something of an enigma.
In some quarters Kamoli is seen as “Enemy Number One”.
Botswana judge, Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi, for instance, described him as a “divisive figure”.

Some of his admirers, who include former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, say he is a “loyal and competent soldier”.
To some Basotho on the streets, however, Kamoli is a dangerous demagogue who brazenly went out to torpedo a democratically elected government when he attacked the State House and some police stations in August 2014.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition partners say that was an attempted coup. They still view him as a threat.
This is the narrative that has been peddled by the coalition government when it locked him up last year.
Kamoli is facing a plethora of charges ranging from murder to treason for acts associated with that daring attack on the State House and police stations four years ago.
Today, he sits as the most high profile prisoner at the Maseru Maximum Prison, feared and guarded by officers from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

Last Friday, thepost heard fascinating details about what is happening to Kamoli and other high profile individuals who are behind prison bars.
Away from the image of terror, here is a man who is as soft as wool, according to one prison warder.
In fact, the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS)’s boss, Thabang Mothepu, has no reason to beef up security, the officer told the Ombudsman last week.
Sergeant Bokang Ramotena, who was suspended by the LCS for testifying at the hearing, told the Ombudsman that Lt Gen Kamoli and his fellow soldiers were conducting themselves so well to the extent that hiring the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team was totally unnecessary.

“As for Kamoli he is keeping himself busy by reading the Bible and discussing it with fellow inmates,” Ramotena said.
“Yes, he is a high profile inmate but according to my observation he is harmless and poses no security risk at all,” she said.
“The commissioner has no reason to engage SWAT for inmates like these.”

She said the incarcerated soldiers and police officers are the ones who bring other inmates to order when they get out of hand.
The junior prison warders have taken their boss, Thabang Mothepu, to the Ombudsman over what they allege are unfair labour practices.
They have accused Mothepu of promoting officers based on political party affiliation, a charge he has refuted.

They also accused their boss of handpicking officers who would serve in the SWAT team at the expense of experienced officers.
The SWAT team was quickly put together and trained for two weeks soon after the arrest of soldiers and some police officers late last year to deal with the threat posed by the highly trained inmates.

“It is true we have those high profile inmates but these people are very harmless, they are not causing any troubles, they are the best inmates we have ever had,” Ramotena said.
Ramotena said the detained soldiers and police officers obey orders faithfully and “they even assist us by talking with other inmates who are likely to cause trouble”.
She said Lt Gen Kamoli is always calm.

The junior warders complained that the members of the SWAT team are paid M100 every time they go out on an assignment while other officers who will perform the same tasks are not paid.
Another officer, Tšeliso Liphalana, told the Ombudsman that “some of us have been ignored no matter how long we have spent working as correctional officers”.
Sergeant Khama Letsie said some who are not good at work and are inexperienced are being promoted under unclear situations.

“We went for interviews but the amazing part was that people who did not go for the interviews were the ones who got the promotions, yet they had not gone for any interview,” Letsie said.
Another correctional officer, Maama Letsie, said they are not even given chances to talk to the commissioner about the problems they are facing at work.
“We do not have the rights and the inmates are better than us because if they want to talk, the commissioner will listen to them,” Letsie said.
“We are virtual prisoners,” he said. “We do not know that, because if we speak out, we are punished by being made to work night shifts for a long time.”

Thooe Ramolibeli

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