Sol­diers’Soldie lawyer seeks refuge in SA

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing some le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers de­tained at Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Prison on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting to top­ple the army com­mand, fled the coun­try on Sun­day morn­ing and sought refuge in South Africa.

Ad­vo­cate ’ Mole Ku­malo ( pic­tured) yesterday told the Le­sotho Times he de­cided to leave le­sotho af­ter be­ing chased around Maseru by “some sol­diers” driv­ing two ve­hi­cles.

A for­mer LDF mem­ber him­self, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo of Maseru-based le­gal link Cham­bers, said he be­lieved the men were out to abduct him, adding only his de­ci­sion to cross the bor­der into South Africa had saved his life.

Speak­ing to the Le­sotho Times from South Africa yesterday, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said: “I can­not re­veal ex­actly where I am at the mo­ment lest I com­pro­mise my se­cu­rity. I hope I am safe here af­ter flee­ing le­sotho on Sun­day be­cause I felt my life was un­der threat from some le­sotho De­fence Force mem­bers who chased me all over Maseru that morn­ing.”

The lawyer said it all started with a call from a friend no­ti­fy­ing him of a “ter­ri­ble” car crash in­volv­ing some­one he knew.

“It was around 3am when I re­ceived the call. I im­me­di­ately rushed to the scene in town where I re­alised that the guy was still trapped in his car. The po­lice and some wit­nesses were al­ready at the scene try­ing to help,” he said.

Soon af­ter, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said some LDF mem­bers also ar­rived at the ac­ci­dent scene in two ve­hi­cles.

“One of them was clearly an army ve­hi­cle and was green in colour; the other was a white Corolla with Free State reg­is­tra­tion plates. But I know the Corolla be­longs to the LDF in­tel­li­gence depart­ment be­cause I was in the army for 13 years. Then two sol­diers in uni­form came out of the green car to join the on­look­ers at the ac­ci­dent scene. But I soon re­alised that the sol­diers had no in­ter­est at all in the ac­ci­dent, and I be­came sus­pi­cious.

“Be­cause I am not on good terms with the LDF brass, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing court cases in which I am rep­re­sent­ing some of the sol­diers tor­tured by the army, I had this feel­ing that these peo­ple were af­ter me and were not at the crash scene by ac­ci­dent.”

To test his sus­pi­cion, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said he sud­denly left the ac­ci­dent scene, “af­ter talk­ing to a cer­tain po­lice­man to in­form him about my sus­pi­cion, and the of­fi­cer had also ad­vised me to leave the scene be­cause ecause he had re­al­ized that some­thing ething was amiss.”

The lawyer­awyer said he took the Main n South 1 road as he left the he crash site “and I re­alised ed that the white Corolla was fol­low­ing me.”

Ad­vo­cate ate Ku­malo added he then tried to ac­cel­er­ate to get away­way from the Cor­rola, but it gave chase.

“I some­how mehow stayed in front and even­tu­ally opened a huge gap be­tween me and the Corolla. a. I must t ad­mit t I was re­ally afraid of what was go­ing on at that time.”

Ac­cord­ing to the lawyer, he then man­aged to find a se­cluded place “some­where along Main South 1 road”.

Af­ter some time, when he thought he had evaded his per­suers, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said he re­turned to the ac­ci­dent scene be­cause he was “re­ally con­cerned” about his trapped friend.

“when I came back, one of the po­lice of­fi­cers told me that the two cars fol­lowed me when I left.

“But think­ing that I was safe now, I was shocked to see the green car ar­riv­ing at the ac­ci­dent scene again and this time, I was sure they were stalk­ing me. I left again, now tak­ing the Main North I di­rec­tion and they fol­lowed me once more.”

Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said he was avoid­ing go­ing home be­cause he did not want his pur­suers to know where he stayed. “I didn’t want to bring dan­ger to my life so I de­cided to cir cir­cle around town hop­ing to throw them off my trail. when I man­aged to evade them once again, I waited un­til sunrise and then went home, told my wife what was hap­pen­ing, picked up what­ever I had to take with me and left the coun­try.”

Asked have been be­hind the chase, Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo said: “At some point, the army com­mand an­nounced on pa­rade that I was the ldf’s num­ber one en­emy. This, I un­der­stand, was be­cause of the many cases I was han­dling in which I was rep­re­sent­ing sol­diers in tor­ture and un­fair treat­ment cases they were al­leg­ing against the LDF.

“At the mo­ment, there are sev­eral sol­diers I am rep­re­sent­ing who have been ar­rested and ac­cused of plan­ning a mutiny.”

Mean­while, the le­sotho Times is in pos­ses­sion of a copy of a let­ter Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo wrote to the Pres­i­dent of the Court Mar­tial on 16 June 2015. In the let­ter, the lawyer ex­pressed con­cern over “the pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion ” in re­la­tion to a cer­tain case.

The let­ter reads in part: “Honourable Pres­i­dent, I humbly wish to state that I feel it will not be in the best in­ter­est of jus­tice to at­tend to this case un­der the pre­vail­ing cir­cum­stances due to the rea­sons h here­un­der writ­ten:

“The Honourable Pres­i­dent will re re­call that I reg­is­tered my con­cern with the same honourable court re re­gard­ing my in­abil­ity to freely re rep­re­sent the above men­tioned cl client (name supplied) due to your or or­gan­i­sa­tion’s en­deav­ours to be a ac­com­pa­nied by heav­ily armed sold diers when­ever I at­tend to cases at M Mokoanyane (Bar­racks).

“I did show that this is not only u un­com­mon but be­ing done only to me as a pri­vate le­gal prac­ti­tioner and that it is there­fore a form of in in­tim­i­da­tion. That prac­tice did not st stop nor did I ever get any an­swer to that ef­fect. It is also im­por­tant to note that I have been de­clared t the num­ber one en­emy of the LDF be­fore a pa­rade for rea­sons un- known to me.

“Presently there have been ru­mours sug­gest­ing a link be­tween me and other lawyers per­tain­ing to the re­cent on-go­ings in the LDF for which I would not take lightly for the sake of my life and my fam­ily’s lives. There have also been in­tim­i­dat­ing looks from some of the sol­diers who ac­com­pany the de­tainees to civil courts which make me ap­pre­hen­sive for my life.

“It is there­fore on the ba­sis of the above and tak­ing into to­tal­ity the above-given cir­cum­stances that I feel I will not be able to truly rep­re­sent the client un­der those pre­vail­ing cir­cum­stances. I must make it clear that I am, in no way, with­draw­ing from the case but rather humbly re­quest­ing your good of­fice to at­tend to them and give us di­rec­tion as to what can be done so that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice can be ef­fected in a free en­vi­ron­ment.

“And with­out duly sug­gest­ing to the honourable court I hope to get guar­an­tee for my safety, and in the event that it can­not be guar­an­teed, then hope­fully the mat­ter could be stood down un­til the dust has set­tled. I do hope that the honourable pres­i­dent and the panel do un­der­stand the predica­ment I am in and will there­fore hope­fully work to­wards find­ing an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion to this quag­mire.”

Mean­while, the law So­ci­ety, Trans­for­ma­tion re­source Cen­tre and Catholic Com­mis­sion for Jus­tice and Peace yesterday is­sued a joint state­ment high­light­ing the plight of Ad­vo­cate Ku­malo and other lawyers who are be­ing in­tim­i­dated by mem­bers of the LDF.

The Le­sotho Times could not get a com­ment from the LDF on these al­le­ga­tions un­til the time of go­ing to press.

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