Coup plot suspect dies

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MASERU — One of the nine men on trial for the April 2009 failed coup and attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has died.
Alberto Makwakwa (pictured above), a Mozambican national, died on Wednesday night last week at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
He was being held at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison after he was extradited from South Africa in April where he was being held together with six other suspects since their arrest in April 2009.
Makwakwa was facing 31 charges that include murder, kidnapping, robbery, illegal entry into the Kingdom, illegal possession of fire arms and attempted murder.
He was admitted to the hospital at the beginning of last week due to a serious illness. Makwakwa’s lawyer, Haae Phoofolo, who is representing six other coup suspects, said he only discovered that his client had died when he visited the prison on Monday.
He said he decided to visit his clients after he heard rumours that one of them had died.
“I asked if I could see my clients and only six came. I asked where Alberto was,” Phoofolo said.
He said when the prison warder failed to explain where Makwakwa was he asked to see “someone in charge”.
“That is when I was told that he had died last week. And when I asked why I had not been told earlier they said they thought it was a prison matter.
“I was shocked because I have a right to be informed when my client dies.
“I asked myself why the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) did not inform me that my client had died,” Phoofolo said.
The DPP, Leaba Thetsane, refused to speak to the Lesotho Times saying he “blacklisted the paper a long time ago” because it refused to retract a story it had published about him.
A source working at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital told the Lesotho Times that Makwakwa had been chained to his bed and prison warders who were supposed to guard him were away when he died.
“The hospital staff was unable to remove his body from the bed after he died because the warders were not there to unchain him,” the source said.
“The hospital staff had to wait until the warders returned from where they had gone so that the dead body could be taken to the mortuary,” she said.
The Lesotho Correctional Service’s spokesperson, Matingoe Phamotse, confirmed that a prisoner had died but said he could not confirm his name because his relatives were yet to be informed.
Phamotse however said he found it hard to believe that when the prisoner (Makwakwa) died prison warders were not there.
“According to the level of security for inmates, especially those of a high profile like this one, it is difficult for me to believe that there were no warders when he died,” Phamotse said.
“A high profile inmate is guarded around the clock. It is expected that there should be a group of warders at the hospital to guard this inmate.
“Anything can happen to an inmate of high profile that can put national security at risk.”
Phoofolo told the Lesotho Times that he was unhappy with the way the prison authorities had treated Makwakwa.
He suspects that Makwakwa had not received proper medical care while in prison.
An angry Phoofolo said he believed the prison authorities had not put Makwakwa on a proper diet when they realised that he was ill.
“I’m going to lodge an official complaint with the prison authorities because this is not right,” Phoofolo said.
“I’m also going to inform the human rights bodies in the world that this is what has happened to a prisoner who was my client.”
Phoofolo said his six remaining clients had informed him that conditions at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison were unbearable.
They were well looked after in Bloemfontein, Phoofolo added.
Phoofolo’s major gripe is with the quality of food that the prisoners in Lesotho are being served.
“It is inhumane,” he said.
According to Phoofolo, Lesotho is not adhering to the prisoners’ diet prescribed in Proclamation No. 30 promulgated in 1957 when Lesotho was still a British protectorate.
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 says none of the prisoners in Lesotho are on that diet.
According to him, the prisoners are on a diet of porridge, bread, beans, and pap and moroho.
“I asked them (his clients) whether they were having meat and they said they had only had meat once since April. They are not having tea or coffee.”
When you ask the prison authorities they will say the government does not have money to provide this diet.

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