Busi­ness­man sues army over ‘tor­ture’

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

MASERU busi­ness­man Mot­lomelo Mot­lomelo yes­ter­day told High Court judge, Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane, his or­deal at the hands of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers as he sup­ported his M3 mil­lion claim for tor­ture against the army.

Mr Mot­lomelo was giv­ing ev­i­dence in a case in which he is su­ing the army com­man­der for pain and suf­fer­ing, as well as the hu­mil­i­a­tion he al­legedly suf­fered when he was “kid­napped and de­tained” by LDF mem­bers in 2007. The sol­diers, Mr Mot­lomelo told the court, kid­napped him from his home in Motim­poso on the night of 24 June 2007 when he was in the com­pany of his wife and chil­dren.

Mr Mot­lomelo said un­known men ar­rived at his home and in­tro­duced them­selves as po­lice of­fi­cers, be­fore search­ing the premises, say­ing they were look­ing for firearms stolen from sol­diers at road­block mounted at Lake­side and Ha-motšoe­neng in the Litha­ba­neng area that week.

“When we left home, they cov­ered my face with a cloth and drove me to a place I did not know. I could only sense we were tak­ing the di­rec­tion lead­ing to Makoanyane. But we did not get into Makoanyane Bar­racks and I could sense we were now in Thaba-bo­siu where they took me to Phuthi­at­sana river.

“They started as­sault­ing me say­ing I should re­trieve the guns that were stolen from the sol­diers. I kept on telling them that I knew noth­ing about the firearms, but they con­tin­ued as­sault­ing me.

“At one point, one of them hit me with the butt of the gun and I fell to the ground. They suf­fo­cated me with a rub­ber-like cloth and poured wa­ter all over my body. I was wet ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing in my un­der­wear,” he said.

He added: “As I con­tin­ued telling them that I did not know any­thing about the stolen guns, they started un­dress­ing me.

“One of them held me by the gen­i­tals and tied them with some­thing like a thread. He held that thread from be­hind and force­fully pushed me for­ward and as I was about to fall he pulled back the thread. I could not imag­ine the pain I felt that mo­ment.

“One of them then started squeez­ing my gen­i­tals and they even­tu­ally hit me in the gen­i­tals with some­thing that I thought was a ham­mer. I im­me­di­ately be­came un­con­scious.

“I only re­gained con­scious­ness when I was where I could feel was a house with tiles on the floor. At the time, my clothes were warm again. I did not know if it was still night or day be­cause I was still cov­ered on the face.

“I learned af­ter a long time, which I could not tell if it were some days or what, that one late (Mako­toko) Lerotholi was also in that house.”

Mr Mot­lomelo also told the court af­ter “some days” he and Lerotholi were taken to Po­lice Head­quar­ters where he re­alised that they had been ar­rested to­gether with then Ma­jor Ram­a­bele Mokhan­tšo, Cap­tain Lehloa Ramotšo and one Ma­jalle. He said they were taken to court and charged with high trea­son and sedi­tion.

“There was a time when the High Court had or­dered that we be re­leased from Po­lice Head­quar­ters but the sol­diers ar­rived and took some of the peo­ple who were be­ing kept there with us.

“One of my friends in the po­lice came to where I was hid­ing at Pitso Ground Po­lice Sta­tion and took me to a car that was parked out­side. I got into that car and we drove to the bor­der post. That’s how I es­caped to South Africa.

“I had al­ready spent 13 days in detention. I spent about three years in South Africa un­til I came back in 2009,” he said.

How­ever, Jus­tice Hla­joane post­poned the case to 12 June 2015 for both Mr Mot­lomelo’s lawyer, King’s Coun­sel Motiea Teele and the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the army, Ad­vo­cate Rapelang Mot­sieloa, to make their sub­mis­sions be­fore the court.

Maseru busi­ness­man Mot­lomelo Mot­lomelo

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