Court or­ders soldier’s re­lease

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

High Court act­ing judge Jus­tice Sakoane Sakoane on Mon­day or­dered the im­me­di­ate re­lease of Sergeant Le­bo­hang Ramo­holi from Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) cus­tody at Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison.

Sergeant Ramo­holi was ar­rested by mem­bers of the LDF on Tues­day last week at Makoanyane Bar­racks on sus­pi­cion of be­ing part of a plot to top­ple the LDF com­mand.

His wife, ‘Maror­isang Ramo­holi on Fri­day last week filed an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court seek­ing an or­der di­rect­ing the im­me­di­ate re­lease of her hus­band from cus­tody.

Ms Ramo­holi had also asked for an or­der di­rect­ing the Com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force and Di­rec­tor of Mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence to al­low Sergeant Ramo­holi ac­cess to med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and treat­ment, as well as ac­cess to le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

in his rul­ing, Jus­tice Sakoane said: “The First and Sec­ond re­spon­dents are or­dered to re­lease, forth­with, No 9467 Sergeant Le­bo­hang Ramo­holi, from de­ten­tion.

“The other prayers in the no­tice of mo­tion are de­ferred for ar­gu­ment.”

The de­ferred prayers in­volve the ques­tion of whether or not Sergeant Ramo­holi’s ar­rest was law­ful.

Sergeant Ramo­holi was the first among ap­prox­i­mately 36 sol­diers to be re­leased from LDF de­ten­tion since the wave of ar­rests of army per­son­nel started in March this year.

Mean­while, in sup­port of her case, Ms Ramo­holi wrote an af­fi­davit de­tail­ing how she learnt of her hus­band’s ar­rest.

“On 16 June 2015, my hus­band left home early in the morn­ing for duty at Makoanyane Bar­racks.

“At around 9am, he called to tell me that he was go­ing to Makoanyane (Mil­i­tary) Hos­pi­tal as he had been hav­ing a se­ri­ous back pain.

“About an hour later, i called him to check on him but his phone was off.

“i tried to call him sev­eral times dur­ing the day but his phone was still off.

“At around 3pm, a cer­tain Sekonyala Tšotetsi ar­rived at my house and told me he had been with my hus­band at Makoanyane Bar­racks when they were sud­denly sur­rounded by a group of men wear­ing ski-masks.

“Those men then started beat­ing my hus­band, cov­ered his face with a black cloth and pushed him into their ve­hi­cle which was parked nearby.

“They then sped off in that ve­hi­cle,” Ms Ramo­holi wrote in the af­fi­davit.

She added her hus­band never re­turned home that day, prompt­ing her to visit Makoanyane Bar­racks the fol­low­ing morn­ing to in­quire about his where­abouts.

“I met some army of­fi­cers on guard at the gate, who told me that my hus­band had been taken to Setib­ing (Mil­i­tary Base) by mem­bers of the Mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence (Mi) and that i would not be al­lowed to ei­ther see him or get an ex­pla­na­tion from the (Mi).

“They told me that no one within the LDF would ex­plain to me the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of my hus­band as this was a se­cret mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion.

“When i asked when i should ex­pect my hus­band back home they told me that maybe soon or maybe never,” she stated.

Ms Ramo­holi fur­ther wrote in the af­fi­davit that the of­fi­cers al­lowed her to take her hus­band’s ve­hi­cle which was still parked at the bar­racks, although she failed to drive it away as it could not start.

She fur­ther charged: “i fail to un­der­stand why my hus­band was be­ing de­tained by the LDF.

“The fact that the LDF has de­nied me an op­por­tu­nity to meet with my hus­band and/or to give me an ex­pla­na­tion about his de­ten­tion leads me to a rea­son­able con­clu­sion that his de­ten­tion is both sin­is­ter and un­law­ful.

“i have learnt that there are other sol­diers who are be­ing de­tained and tor­tured by mem­bers of the Mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence.

“in the cir­cum­stances, i rea­son­ably sus­pect that my hus­band is also be­ing de­tained and tor­tured by the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers,” she noted in the af­fi­davit.

Kopar­ala Mothae (right) with his in­jured hand in a glove and Te­boho leuta.

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