Army or­dered to pay tor­ture vic­tim M450k

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge, Jus­tice ‘ Mase­shophe Hla­joane, on Mon­day or­dered the Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) to pay a Maseru busi­ness­man M450 000 as com­pen­sa­tion for tor­ture at the hands of army of­fi­cers in 2007.

Mot­lomelo Mot­lomelo had sued the army de­mand­ing M3 mil­lion for the pain, suf­fer­ing and hu­mil­i­a­tion he al­legedly suf­fered af­ter be­ing “kid­napped and de­tained” by LDF mem­bers dur­ing the post-elec­tion un­rest in 2007.

How­ever, Jus­tice Hla­joane awarded him M450 000 af­ter not­ing that Mr Mot­lomelo had made a sat­is­fac­tory case to sup­port his claim.

The plain­tiff was rep­re­sented by King’s Coun­sel (KC) Motiea Teele, while the re­spon­dents, who in­cluded the LDF com­man­der and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Tšokolo Makhethe, were rep­re­sented by Ad­vo­cate Rapelang Mot­sieloa.

Nar­rat­ing his or­deal dur­ing the trial which be­gan in May this year, Mr Mot­lomelo said the sol­diers kid­napped him from his home in Motim­poso on the night of 24 June 2007, while he was in the com­pany of his wife and chil­dren.

He 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 road­blocks mounted in 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,” said Mr Mot­lomelo.

“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 a 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 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 can­not de­scribe the pain I felt at 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, but 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 Mr 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.

Busi­ness­man Mot­lomelo Mot­lomelo.

Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane.

King’s Coun­sel Motiea Teele.

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