A 16-year-old patient admitted at Mohlomi Psychiatric Hospital in Maseru allegedly killed a fellow inmate on Tuesday by tearing out her eyes, ripping away her scalp and bashing her head against the floor.
According to sources who work at the mental institution, the teenager had been put into a holding cell to protect other patients, members of staff and visitors after she had become extremely violent.
But according to the sources, the nurses who made the decision to lock away the patient were not aware that there was a 34-year-old inmate already in the cell for the same reason. The teen patient had been transferred from Butha-Buthe last week, the sources further told the Lesotho Times.
One of the sources yesterday told the Lesotho Times: “The patient started behaving violently yesterday and to protect everyone else at the hospital, the nurses threw her into a holding cell without checking if it was empty.
“They should have checked first if the cell was occupied or not but they didn’t. They simply locked the cell and left without making sure she was the only occupant of the cell in line with the hospital’s regulations.
“The girl then attacked her older fellow patient who was asleep at the time. She gouged her eye out, and apparently chewed it and spit it out and ripped the skin off her head in a fit of violence which left all of us in utter shock and disbelief.”
According to another source, the gruesome incident was only discovered when the nurses went to check on the teenager “after some time”.
“When the nurses went to the cell, they saw blood and some broken teeth on the floor, and the 34-year-old was on the floor. When they asked the teenager what had happened, she said she had strangled her first. This explained why no one heard any noise when such violence was taking place right there in the hospital complex,” said the source.
When the Lesotho Times crew visited the institution yesterday, three members of the hospital management confirmed the gory incident. However, the managers would not speak on record, citing protocol.
“It is true that there was a horror incident here yesterday. We are conducting internal investigations to establish what really happened as we are also in a state of shock,” one of the officials said.
“The reason why we cannot speak on record is because we are not authorised to give interview about what happens at this hospital.
“Secondly, we have not informed the two women’s families and are yet to file an official report to the Ministry of Health, under which this hospital falls.
“We expect an official announcement on what took place here to be made on Monday next week.”
Contacted yesterday on the issue, the Director of Mental Health, Michael Lebina, said he could not comment as he was on leave.
Health Minister Dr ‘Molotsi Monyamane could not be reached yesterday as his mobile phone was unreachable.
However, police spokesperson Clifford Molefe confirmed the incident and said investigations were in progress.
“Yes, it is true that murder was committed at Mohlomi Mental Hospital yesterday and we have opened a case against a 16-year-old suspect,” Senior Inspector Molefe said.
“As soon as we complete our investigations, we will submit the docket to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for guidance on the next step to take.”