Businessman sues army over ‘torture’
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