Maseru  decongests prisons

Maseru decongests prisons

MASERU-THE Maseru Central Prison this week released 110 prisoners in a move it said was meant to decongest prisons in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 110 prisoners, 10 were women.
Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya said because of the existential threat posed by the coronavirus, the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) had approached the court seeking permission to decongest the prison.

“So far it is only Maseru Central Prison that has released some inmates who fell under certain categories,” Nthunya said.
Nthunya said the LCS had informed them that the prison could only hold a certain number of prisoners to avoid overcrowding.

She said they also took into consideration inmates who were on special diets which had to be brought to the prison by their families.
Because of the lockdown, their family members were not able to visit them and provide their basic needs.

Nthunya said they were also informed of a grave concern that inmates who take HIV/AIDS medications were unable to do so because health centres where they get their medication have closed for the lockdown.

There was a loud cry from health practitioners that they do not have protective gear against Covid-19 and as such, their lives are at risk of contracting the contagious disease.

Nthunya said there were some inmates who were granted bail but could not afford to pay it and they too were also released.
“Some inmates were just remaining in the prison because they could not afford to pay bail,” she said.

She said some inmates had already paid bail but could not afford to pay surety and they too have been released.
Nthunya said there were also some inmates who were no longer showing up for the remands because of the lockdown.
She said some inmates could not be released because their cases were at an advanced stage.

Other inmates who were released were those who fell under the Speedy Trials Act which says a person cannot be remanded for more than six months.
“Some have stayed here for longer,” Nthunya said.
She said there are 19 inmates whose cases have been allocated dates and they have not been released.

Nthunya said some inmates who are facing murder charges have not been released as their issue has been ceded to the High Court for determination.
She said there are also high profile cases that they did not lay their hands on.

They have also ceded them to the High Court.
Nthunya said they have worked with the Maseru Central Prison because it is the one that had raised concerns about over-crowding.
Lesotho has not recorded any Covid-19 positive case yet.

Staff Reporter

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