Prison warder suspended

Prison warder suspended

MASERU – A prison warder who told the Ombudsman that the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) carries out promotions based on political affiliation has been suspended.
Sergeant Bokang Ramotena was told not to report at work after she told the Ombudsman that LCS promotions were politically based.
This newspaper could not contact Ramotena last night for comment.

The LCS spokesman Superintendent Neo Mopeli however confirmed the suspension.
Superintendent Mopeli declined to give reasons for the suspension.
Ramotena’s suspension has however been met with withering criticism from the Ombudsman, Advocate Leshele Thoahlane, who said the suspension was a calculated move to silence other officers from testifying.

Thoahlane told thepost yesterday that he had now written to the LCS Commissioner, Thabang Mothepu, to explain the move.
“I have written the author of the suspension letter to come to the Ombudsman to explain this,” Thoahlane said.
“In our opinion writing that letter is opposing the Ombudsman and the writer of the letter must come and tell us if by so doing he is not trying to scare everyone from testifying,” he said.
“This is tantamount to the violation of the people’s right to free speech.”

“We called the writer to show us where he took power to write a letter to an officer who is under Section 20 of the Ombudsman’s Act of 1996,” he said.
Thoahlane also said he heard that other complainants have since been getting threats.

“We wrote to the Commissioner of Police and officer commanding the Maseru district about this matter,” he said.
“I received a call from Superintendent Letsie saying we should tell those who have been threatened to go to his office so that they work out the issue,” he said.
Ramotena testified in a case in which the Ombudsman was investigating complaints by low-ranking prison warders over the issue of promotions within the LCS which they said were based on political affiliation.

The controversial promotions were made on May 15.
This was despite the fact that on May 3 the Ombudsman had ordered that they be stopped.

Justice Ministry Principal Secretary Lebohang Mochaba told the Ombudsman that she deliberately defied his order because of security issues she would not talk about in the presence of the public.
“It is a criminal offence therefore we are passing it to the right place,” Thoahlane said, indicating that they have opened a criminal case with the police.
“Even the PS agreed that they just carried on with promotions against the Ombudsman’s restraining order,” he said.

Thoahlane said they are yet to be informed of the security issues that pushed the LCS superiors to defy his order.
“They could not talk about them because of the presence of the media but even today they have not said a thing,” he added.

Ramotena told the Ombudsman during the inquiry that she, together with Mothepu, were close friends with Chief Officer Mohale when they were still members of the Democratic Congress (DC).
She said at that time Mohale was quickly moving up the ranks.

She said ever since Alliance of Democrats (AD) broke away from the DC, and Mohale remained in the DC, he is stagnant in that position.
Ramotena said one of the conditions for promotions is that an officer should not have committed any crime or been suspended for any transgression.

She alleged that Mothepu was however promoted to Assistant Commissioner despite that he had unlawfully released a certain politician.
She said Mothepu was found guilty and was put on 12 months special probation but still he was promoted.

Nkheli Liphoto

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