Army probes ARV-stealing ‘syndicate’

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Keiso Mohloboli

THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) is investigating “a syndicate” of soldiers that has been stealing medication from Makoanyane Military Hospital for resale, Defence and National Security Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi has said.

Mr Mokhosi told the Lesotho Times yesterday that investigations had so far resulted in a Lance Corporal being demoted and slapped with a one-year jail term for stealing antiretroviral (ARV) drugs from the hospital last October.

The minister said the solder, ­- who was demoted to the army’s lowest rank of private, was convicted in a court martial for stealing 96 bottles containing 30 ARV tablets at the hospital’s Thomas Wellness Centre.

Mr Mokhosi said investigations were still in progress and hoped more arrests would be made soon in relation to the “syndicate”.

“I don’t want to get into any details about this syndicate because some of the suspects have not been disciplined for the theft. So I don’t want to jeopardise military investigations, by saying more on this issue,” the minister said.

Mr Mokhosi said the soldiers behind the syndicate would soon face the might of the law since they were entrusted with protecting the vital medication.

“It is unacceptable and a serious crime for soldiers to steal from the hospital because the nation needs the pills for HIV/AIDS treatment,” he said.

“Lesotho is currently in second position globally in terms of HIV prevalence, yet the people entrusted with protecting the life-saving drugs are busy stealing them.

“The soldiers made a vow after induction to be loyal to the LDF and to love and protect Lesotho. So they must all remember their vow and stop stealing.”

The minister also took a swipe at some members of the opposition alliance for “blowing issues about the army out of proportion”.

“The opposition must stop these double standards and blowing issues about the army out of proportion,” said Mr Mokhosi.

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