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Inmate raises alarm over expired sanitizers, masks

Business


Ntsoaki Motaung
Marasi ‘Moleli, an inmate at the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS)’s Maseru Central
Correctional Institute (MCCI) and a member of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), this
week voiced deep concerns about the health and well-being of inmates in Lesotho.
Speaking before the commission of inquiry currently investigating the escape of inmates
in December 2023, the assault of inmates, and the death of one inmate, ‘Moleli revealed
troubling issues regarding the provision of essential supplies during the COVID-19
pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit hard around 2020/2022 and countries were grappling with the
crisis, it seemed as if everything that was deemed unfit for use by the general
population was dumped at the correctional institutions to be given to inmates,” ‘Moleli
lamented.
He added, “We were provided with expired hand sanitizers, disinfectants, as well as
face masks.”
‘Moleli highlighted the plight faced by inmates and their families.
“At that time, visitors were not allowed to bring protective equipment from home for their
relatives in prison. Our relatives were not allowed to bring us sanitizers from home, and
later they were provided by the institution, only to find out that they were expired,” he
said.
He continued: “We were also provided with expired disinfectants to wash walls inside
our cells when one inmate would be found COVID-19 positive.”
‘Moleli expressed dismay at the lack of proper protective measures, stating that only a
few weeks back in April this year, inmates were provided with face masks, but they
were expired.
“Their manufacturing date was October 2020, with a specified validity of two years, yet
they were given to us last month. So, I decided not to use them,” he said.
“When other inmates asked a nurse if it was safe to use them, the nurse said they were
not sure but advised they could wash them before using them, maybe they would be
protective,” he added.

Face masks are not only encouraged during periods of high COVID-19 cases but are
also advisable in densely populated areas to mitigate the risk of airborne diseases.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Phoka Scout has previously highlighted the prevalence
of tuberculosis (TB) within LCS institutions during a breakfast meeting for corporates as
part of events commemorating World TB Day 2024.
Scout revealed that, this year alone, at least 26 TB patients were diagnosed throughout
the country, with 21 of them in Maseru Central Correctional Institution.
Despite efforts to screen inmates upon admission and periodically thereafter, Scout
acknowledged the challenges.
“Most of our TB patients or newly diagnosed inmates were identified within three
months of their stay in correctional facilities,” he stated.
While acknowledging that the conditions within correctional services contribute to high
TB cases, Scout also noted that many TB patients originated from outside the facilities.

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