Sol­diers raid MP’S farm

At­tack guard on duty and de­mand to see leg­is­la­tor’s Chi­nese busi­ness part­ner they ac­cused of il­le­gally keep­ing firearms

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

A GUARD look­ing af­ter a farm be­long­ing to All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Qoal­ing con­stituency, Che­lane Phori, was beaten-up on Sun­day evening al­legedly by mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

Mot­lalepula Mpale of BB Alert Se­cu­rity Guards (Pty) Ltd on Tues­day told the Le­sotho Times he was at­tacked by seven LDF mem­bers as he pro­tected Me­jamet­a­lana Fruit and Veg­etable Farm in Maseru.

Mpale (30) said: “It was around 7pm on Sun­day when I saw a man hold­ing an AK47 ri­fle walk­ing through the bush sur­round­ing the farm.

“I was on my way to lock the gate when the man saw me and when I cocked my gun, he a also did the same with his AK47. He con­tin­ued walk­ing to­wards me, and I then heard a gun be­ing cocked beh be­hind me. When I turned, I re­alised I waswa in the cen­tre of a cir­cle of seven sol­diers. “One of the seven men then a asked me the wher where­abouts of a Chi­nese man who also lives on the farm and is a busi­ness part­ner of Mr Phori. I told him he was still ar around but had to ve ver­ify by call­ing the man’s farm­house first

“I called and the phone was an­swered by the man’s rel­a­tive, who how­ever, said he was out at one of the lo­cal ho­tels and would be back at around 11pm.

“Fol­low­ing my con­ver­sa­tion with the Chi­nese man’s rel­a­tive on the phone, which I had put on loud­speaker, the sol­diers said they were go­ing to wait for him be­cause he was il­le­gally keep­ing firearms and they wanted to see him about it. The sol­diers even ac­cused me of be­ing aware of the firearms they were talk­ing about.

“The houses Ntate Phori and his Chi­nese busi­ness part­ner live in are far away from the gate, which was why I had to phone to find out if he was in.

“But af­ter I had made the call, the sol­diers started as­sault­ing me for no ap­par­ent rea­son.

“Af­ter­wards, I went to in­form Ntate Phori about the as­sault and the pres­ence of the sol­diers at the farm. I also called my bosses at BB Alert to in­form them of the in­ci­dent. My boss told me to wait at the farm and he later came to col­lect me and the com­pany’s firearm I had.

“On Mon­day morn­ing, I re­ported the in­ci­dent to Lithoteng Po­lice Sta­tion, and was given a med­i­cal form which I took to hos­pi­tal where I was at­tended to as an out­pa­tient. I am badly in­jured in the ribs and find it dif­fi­cult to bend down.”

BB Alert Di­rec­tor, Tšeliso Makoetje, con­firmed Mr Mpale’s as­sault.

“I re­ceived a call from Mr Mpale’s boss in­form­ing me of the as­sault. I im­me­di­ately asked for a ve­hi­cle to be sent to col­lect him.

“And on Mon­day, our of­fi­cials took Mr Mpale to the po­lice to re­port the case, and there­after, fer­ried him to hos­pi­tal where he was treated as an out­pa­tient.

“The own­ers of the farm also as­sisted Mr Mpale with money to cover his med­i­cal ex­penses,” he said.

Mr Makoetje fur­ther said Mr Mpale man­aged to hang on to his ser­vice firearm de­spite at­tempts by the sol­diers to take it from him.

“We are now wait­ing to hear from the po­lice since the mat­ter is now be­fore them,” said Mr Mr Makoetje.

Asked about the in­ci­dent, Mr Phori said he had to evac­u­ate his fam­ily, as well as his part­ner’s, from the farm on the night in ques­tion be­cause of the at­tack.

“I didn’t see the sol­diers my­self; what I have is a re­port by Mr Mpale who said they were look­ing for my busi­ness part­ner whom they ac­cused of il­le­gally keep­ing firearms at the farm.

“I don’t have any prob­lem with sol­diers or any­body au­tho­rised to search and look for firearms on my farm. My only con­cern is when the search is car­ried out at night, and the guard is as­saulted in the process. I don’t see why it is dif­fi­cult for the army to come and search the farm dur­ing the day,” Mr Phori said.

“On the Sun­day in ques­tion, I found a way to es­cape from the farm to­gether with my fam­ily, my busi­ness part­ner and his fam­ily. On Mon­day, I re­ported the mat­ter to Lithoteng Po­lice Sta­tion, and when the po­lice came to the farm, they found a mil­i­tary jacket, which they took away.”

Con­tacted for com­ment on Tues­day, po­lice spokesper­son Clifford Molefe said: “I can’t say the guard was as­saulted by mem­bers of the LDF; I can only con­firm that the guard was as­saulted and the po­lice have started in­ves­ti­ga­tions over the as­sault.”

Asked if he was aware of the mil­i­tary jacket re­trieved from the crime scene by Lithoteng po­lice, Se­nior In­spec­tor Molefe said: “Yes, a mil­i­tary top or jacket with a Royal Crown was found at the farm.”

The Le­sotho Times tried to get in touch with LDF Public Af­fairs Of­fi­cer Colonel Ntlele Ntoi yesterday to hear the army’s side of the story, but his cell-phone rang unan­swered. On the other hand, a Chi­nese Em­bassy in Maseru of­fi­cial said she would get back to the Le­sotho Times when asked about the in­ci­dent since it in­volved one of its na­tion­als.

ABC MP for Qoal­ing con­stituency Che­lane Phori

ABC mp for Qoal­ing con­stituency Che­lane Phori

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