Trotro drivers carry corpses at 37 Military Hospital
Some drivers of Commercial vehicles (trotro) and their mates have been subjected to dehumanizing methods of punishment allegedly by military guards at the 37 Military Hospital for flouting traffic regulations.
Offending drivers and their mates were allegedly detained in the hospital's mortuary and made to arrange dead bodies or mop up water on the floor.
Investigations by the Times revealed that the practice started about three weeks ago to punish recalcitrant "trotro" drivers.
"One soldier hit my chest and forced me to arrange bodies," Paul Twum, a 20-year-old driver's mate, told the Times.
Twum said he spent about an hour at the mortuary.
"They made me to carry a dead child on my chest as if I am carrying my child," said Kwesi Daniels, a driver who suffered the ordeal two weeks ago.
Another driver, who declined to give his name, alleged that "they made me fondle a dead woman's breast".
When the Times visited the hospital at about 11 a. m. last Thursday, three drivers and their mates had been detained at the entrance of the hospital, while the passengers pleaded for their release.
A female Lieutenant-Colonel (name withheld) was threatening at the top of her voice to send the offending drivers into the mortuary.
"We have to teach you a lesson," she shouted.
Assisted by two corporals on guard duty at the main gate of the hospital, the Lt-Col. told the pleading passengers that the drivers were being punished because they had been stopping close to the entrance of the hospital instead of going to the bus stop.
That practice, she said usually created congestion at the entrance which posed problems, for the hospital, especially when ambulances were moving in and out.
The detained "trotro" drivers were released later after the passengers questioned the justification for the release of a Metro Mass Transport driver who was guilty of the offence.
The passengers suggested that a "No Parking" sign be mounted at the entrance to inform drivers of what to do.
When the Times contacted the Commander of the hospital, Brigadier-General Wadhwani, on Friday for his reaction, he immediately summoned the female officer in question, one of the Lance Corporals on duty at the entrance on Thursday, and the mortuary attendants for queries.
The mortuary attendants admitted giving the offending drivers and their mates work to do but denied asking them to pack bodies.
One of the attendants, told the Commander, in the presence of the Times reporter, that he only made the victims to sweep and clean the floor of the mortuary.
He said the victims were brought in batches by the Lance Corporals for the attendants to put them to work.
According to him, some offending drivers were made to weed the compound of the mortuary.
On her part, the female officer told the Commander that she alighted from her car on Thursday while entering the hospital, to assist the guards at the gate because the drivers "were not obeying the boys".
She admitted giving instructions that the offending drivers and their mates be given work to do before they were released, but did not follow up to know the kind of work they were made to do.
Brig-Gen Wadhwani, expressed regret at the incident, describing it as "very unfortunate", and said appropriate disciplinary action would be taken against the soldiers and the mortuary attendants.
"It is improper and goes against our regulations in dealing with civilians," he said.
He said the action also goes against the standing orders of the Unit, which does not give powers to soldiers to arrest and punish offending civilians, explaining that the power of arrest lies with the Military Police who hand over people they arrest to the police.
"These are unfortunate excesses in handling civilians who were doing the wrong thing," he said.