By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Following incidents of torture and escape at the Maseru Correctional Facility, the government organizes a Commission that will probe into these issues and report findings.

This move comes after the Ombudsman initiates an investigation.

Following the reports of inmates torture at the Maseru Central Correctional Institution on December 22, 2023, the Ombudsman launched an “own initiative” investigations into what happened that led to excessive use by Correction Officers.

In her report, the Ombudsman Advocate Tlotliso Polaki says:

“The assaults committed by LCS Correctional officers on inmates are serious crimes which are not necessarily only against the inmates themselves, but against the justice system as a whole.

“We do expect as the public, a high standard of care and conduct on their part and any form of abuse and excessive force should not be tolerated anyhow.”

Operationalized through the Legal Notice No.26 of 2024, the Commission of Inquiry (Escape of Inmates from Lesotho Correctional Service Facility) is mounted pursuant to section 3(1) of the Public Enquiries Act, 1994.

The Commission is organized by the Prime Minister to probe into torture of inmates and escape at the Maseru Corrections facility last year. It is mandated to submit its report upon completion of their investigations to the latter.

The Commission is charged with enquiring into and:

● Investigate, appraise and evaluate the circumstances that led to escape of inmates.

● Determine circumstances surrounding the escape of inmates.

● Examine, appraise and evaluate the security measures within LCS.

● Investigate the instances around operations undertaken by members of staff of LCS after the escape of inmates.

● Assist in the identification of officers over the search operations.

● Investigate and determine the circumstances as that led to the use of force during the search operation.

● Consider the report of the Ombudsman and of the Commissioner of LCS.

● Any other document relevant to the inquiry.

The members of the Commission are Judge Realeboha Mathaba (Chairperson), former Deputy Prime Minister Advocate Kelebone Maope KC, and the former Commissioner of the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) Mojalefa Thulo.

The Commission of Inquiry is expected to submit its report to the Prime Minister within two months from the date of the gazette publication.

According to the founding gazette, the Commission in exercise of its duties will enjoy the same protection, privileges and immunity as those of the judges of the High Court.

Efforts to establish when the Commission will begin its work did not materialize as the Ministry of Law and Justice had not responded to these publication questions at the time of going to press last night.

This publication however learned that the Commissioners after taking oath, they will undergo orientation exercise before commencing work.