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Prison runs out of food

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — Inmates at the Maseru Central Prison are living on smaller-than-normal rations because the prison has
run out of food, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
Prison sources said the food crisis started two weeks ago and prisoners have been forced to skip some meals.
Prison authorities are said to have been forced to increase visiting days to allow relatives to bring food for the prisoners, said a source who is a warder at the prison on Tuesday.
In some cases rations for prisoners have been reduced to morsels, the source said.
The source said they have been told that the government does not have money.
“It is so sad when you see food being rationed like that, and for the vulnerable ones it’s even worse because they have to give up their food to the stronger ones to avoid being ill-treated,” the source added.
“Some of these inmates are on anti-retroviral drugs while others suffer from tuberculosis. Some have had to stop their medication because they can’t continue to take them on empty stomachs.”
Another prison official who spoke on condition of anonymity told this paper that although money has been tight this year they did not think that “things will get to a stage when we have to ration the food to prisoners to such an extent”.
“The prisoners used to grow vegetables and make bricks for sale but all these good projects have collapsed due to lack of funds.”
The public relations officer of the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS), Matingoe Phamotse, said he did not have the mandate to comment about the issue.
“I have been on leave and have not been mandated to talk about this matter, but I have tabled your questions before my immediate boss and I still have not gotten any response,” Phamotse said.
Commissioner of Prisons Mojalefa Thulo could not be reached for a comment.
When this paper phoned his office on Wednesday morning an official who
identified herself as his secretary said the commissioner was “too busy to take the call”.
She then promised that Thulo would return our call at 10:25 am but he never did.
When called again the secretary said Thulo was still busy.
“My boss is very busy and he has asked that you talk to him tomorrow, he might be ready to talk to you by then,” she said.
Human rights lawyer Haae Phoofolo said he had heard that there was a shortage of food but has not been to the prison to check with his clients.
He said he “had always had problems with the quality and amount of food given to prisoners in Lesotho”.
According to Phoofolo, Lesotho is not adhering to the diet prescribed in Proclamation No. 30 which was promulgated in 1957.
The proclamation says prisoners shall have fresh vegetables in season, mealie-meal, corn, potatoes, beans and peas.
It also says prisoners are entitled to bread, coffee or tea, sugar, milk, rice, fresh meat and salt.
But Phoofolo said none of the prisoners in Lesotho are on that diet.
He said the prisoners are on a diet of porridge, bread, beans, and pap and moroho.
He said this was a violation of the prisoners’ rights.
“In law every prisoner has every right except the right of movement,” Phoofolo said.
“The shortage of food on its own is a deprivation of the prisoners’ right to life which is enshrined in the constitution”.
“The law has prescribed a diet for prisoners but for years this law has been compromised. The story has always been that the government cannot afford.”
“The only option the government has is to release the prisoners but that is the worst option anybody could think of,” he said.
Another source said the food shortage comes at a time when they have been forced to spend the whole winter with a limited supply of coal.
“We have been told that there is no money. We do not even have uniforms and we have had to spend the whole winter with rationed coal as well,” he said.

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