LCS staff in torture storm


. . . as inmate dislocates spine


MASERU – An awaiting trial inmate in the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) custody has reportedly sustained critical injury due to leading to a dislocation of his spinal cord. The torture victim’s condition deteriorated so badly that the inmate had to be transferred to Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein after initially being admitted to Queen Elizabeth II and later Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

Tlotliso Bereng, an awaiting trial detainee at Maseru Correctional Institution has now been left bedridden in hospital after “he was subjected to beatings by prison officials,”

His sister, Malerato Khalikane is as a result suing the Commissioner of Correctional Service and tells the court in an affidavit attached to her application for Bereng’s  release that his brother was tortured by prison officials who even threatened him not to speak out about the incident. Khalikane says she got to learn about her brother’s hospitalization through Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital staff who called her informing her that her brother’s spine could have been damaged.

She says the nurse also said her brother needed to be transferred to Pelonomi Hospital and therefore had to be accompanied by a family member.  “My husband, Rethabile Khalikane, rushed to pick his passport and proceeded to Bloemfontein with Tlotliso. The examinations were conducted and doctors gave an opinion that the spinal cord does not seem to be damaged but there is visible and clear dislocation which may be fatal but with proper care and physiotherapy, he could eventually recover with time.”

When Tlotliso was referred back to Ts’epong, Khalikane says prison officials did not allow them to have privacy with her brother “and he was manacled in our presence.”

She says her brother was in fear and when they spoke to him and asked him to disclose what happened, he hesitated before relating his experiences. He told that family that during morning hours he heard two prison doors opening and when the officials entered, they subjected him to beatings until he collapsed. They then left him lying prostrate on the floor in his holding cell.

He was taken to Queen II hospital and before being taken to Ts’epong for referral. He explained that the prison officials were not happy with the doctor’s advice that he be taken to Bloemfontein and wanted him released back to their custody, the sister says in court papers that Public Eye has seen.

She is asking the court to order an inquiry to establish the circumstances leading to his brother’s torture and that the Commissioner be ordered to facilitate appearance of any of his subordinates with material information as may be required by the court.

According to Khalikane, doctors at Ts’epong said Tlotliso needs further medical examinations abroad in the near future depending on how he responds to the treatment. “Tlotliso reported that he received visitors who encouraged him not to take further legal action unlike the soldiers did with their lawyers and implied the soldiers will be further subjected to ill-treatment for having exposed their sadistic acts.

“This borders on criminality. My brother reported that he was taken from prison along with the executed detainee corpse and upon complaining he was rebuked, with the prison officials remarking that the corpse was the source of my brother’s injuries. This encounter caused physiological harmful to my brother,” Khalikane said.

She adds that she is fearful that her brother might be killed on account of the fact that prison officials evinced a desire to defeat ends of justice by ordering her brother not to talk about his ordeal like the solders did. Khalikane also says the nurses informed her that prison officials are eager to have Tlotliso released but doctors are against it. She is asking the High Court to appoint a referee in terms of rule 19 of the constitutional litigation rules 2000 and make an inquiry and report on the circumstances surrounding the torture of Tlotliso Bereng.

“The court should come to a decision that the  stream of justice has been contaminated by the executive and nothing further can be done, the first respondent should be ordered to facilitate the appearance of any of his subordinates with material information and evidence as may be required by the court appointed referee.”

Khalikane is also seeking a declaratory that the conduct of the state through LCS staff violated section 8 (1) of the constitution by torturing her brother and failing to report his torture and disability.

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