Kamoli facesf fresh con­tempt­con charge

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

LAWYERS rep­re­sent­ing 22 sol­diers de­tained at the Maseru Max­i­mum Se­cu­rity Pri­son say they are con­sid­er­ing fil­ing an­other court ap­pli­ca­tion to have Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli charged for con­tempt.

This comes af­ter the LDF failed to re­lease the sol­diers in line with a rul­ing made by High Court judge Jus­tice Molefi Makara on 5 oc­to­ber 2015.

Jus­tice Makara cleared Lt-gen Kamoli of the charge on 16 oc­to­ber 2015 say­ing he had not un­der­stood the rul­ing, but or­dered the LDF to com­ply with or­der and re­lease the de­tainees with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. The High Court ruled the sol­diers, who were de­tained be­tween May and June this year for sus­pected mutiny, should be placed un­der open ar­rest and at­tend their trial by a Court Mar­tial while com­ing from home.

How­ever, the sol­diers re­main in cus­tody and their plight has al­legedly since wors­ened as they are now in soli­tary con­fine­ment, ac­cord­ing to their lawyers.

The sol­diers in ques­tion are Bri­gadierdier Tho­riso Mo­toa, Colonel Ste­mere, Colonelonel Kolisang, Ma­jor Makhetha, Cap­tain Chaka,aka, Sec­ond-lieu­tenant Mo­hasi, Sergeant Mokhokhobo, Sergeant Se­makale, Sergeant Lekhabun­bun­yane, Cor­po­ral Mokhoro, Cor­po­ral Let­si­lane,ane, Cor­po­ral Lipoto, Cor­po­ral Manaka, Cor­po­ralo­ral Mo­hat­lane, Cor­po­ral Chele, Cor­po­ral Mot­seko, Lance-cor­po­ral Jobo, Lance-cor­po­ral oral Molefi, Lance-cor­po­ral Makhooane, Pri­vat­e­vate Pama, Pri­vate Bolofo and Pri­vate Ral­itlemo.mo.

King’s Coun­sel (KC) Haae Phoofolo, who is rep­re­sent­ing the de­tained sol­diers, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that defence team was plan­ning to file an­other ap­pli­ca­tion against Lt-gen Kamoli.

“We are con­tem­plat­ing fil­ing an­other con­tempt ap­pli­ca­tion against the com­man­der,” Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said.

“But again, what is the pur­pose of go­ing to court when the court says some­thing must hap­pen and it doesn’t? Af­ter the court or­dered that the sol­diers should be re­leased, the LDF acted as if they had re­leased them only to take them back to pri­son.”

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said the de­tainees were made to sign ar­rest war­rants on 21 oc­to­ber 2015 “which gave the im­pres­sion that they had just been ar­rested”.

“The ar­rest war­rants were is­sued in terms of Sec­tion 86(1) of the LDF Act (1996) and they were is­sued by Ma­jor-gen­eral Li­neo Poopa (LDF chief of staff),” said Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo.

“The ar­rest war­rants were is­sued to them im­me­di­ately af­ter they were taken out of the pri­son gates, so that it would ap­pear as if they had just been ar­rested.”

He said the de­tained sol­diers were also made to sign re­mand war­rants to reg­u­larise their con­tin­ued stay in pri­son.

“The re­mand war­rants were is­sued in terms of Sec­tion 87. Most of the de­tainees re­fused to sign the doc­u­ments and as a re­sult, their con­tin­ued de­ten­tion re­mains un­law­ful,” Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo

said.

“only four of them have signed the doc­u­ments. Th­ese are Cor­po­ral Manaka, Cor­po­ral Mot­seko, Lance Cor­po­ral Makhooane and Lance Cor­po­ral Jobo. The oth­ers re­fused to sign them which means they are be­ing kept with­out ar­rest and re­mand war­rants.”

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo fur­ther said the LDF’S at­tempts to reg­u­larise the sol­diers’ de­ten­tion were still in con­tempt of the court or­der.

“No mat­ter what they did, the facts still re­main. The sol­diers were not re­leased as or­dered by the court. We are still go­ing to file an ap­pli­ca­tion for con­tempt of court,” said Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo.

“From my view­point, it seems we are liv­ing in a law­less state. We ex­pe­ri­enced this kind of at­ti­tude by sol­diers dur­ing the mil­i­tary regime when the court would or­der that peo­ple should be re­leased, only to be re-ar­rested im­me­di­ately af­ter their re­lease.

“The army did the same thing in 2007, and th­ese are the habits of a mil­i­tary state and not a demo­cratic coun­try where there is a bill of rights.

“where there is a court or­der for the re­lease of a per­son, it should sim­ply be ef­fected.”

Asked when they would make the ap­pli­ca­tion, Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said he could not com­mit to a date in light of re­cent so­cial me­dia re­ports of a “hit list” which also in­cludes the de­tainees’ lawyers. The de­tained sol­diers’ le­gal team also con­sists of Ad­vo­cates Christo­pher Le­phuthing, Koili Nde­bele as well as At­tor­neys Khotso Nthon­tho and Tu­misang Mosotho.

“we have now learnt of a hit-list of peo­ple who have al­legedly been tar­geted for elim­i­na­tion, and the five lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the de­tainees are part of that list,” he said.

“Since we do not know who is be­hind this list, we are con­cerned about our wel­fare be­cause we are not sure when th­ese so-called at­tack­ers will pounce.”

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, the LDF’S le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the case, At­tor­ney Qhale­hang Let­sika, dis­missed Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo’s ac­cu­sa­tions that the army did not obey the court’s or­ders.

The con­tin­ued de­ten­tion of the of­fi­cers, he pointed out, was within the law since the 16 oc­to­ber rul­ing or­der­ing their re­lease was made af­ter the “nec­es­sary mea­sures to keep the de­tainees had al­ready been made”.

“As far as the LDF is con­cerned, the as­ser­tion that they are not obey­ing court or­ders is not cor­rect. By the time the court made the or­der, it had al­ready been over­taken by events. They had al­ready been given due hear­ing,” At­tor­ney Let­sika said.

“one of the sol­diers was brave enough to make his rep­re­sen­ta­tions and was duly placed un­der open ar­rest af­ter con­sid­er­ing his sit­u­a­tion. But I can’t dis­close his name now be­cause I didn’t get the man­date from my clients to do so.”

He added: “our po­si­tion is that the LDF is pre­pared to abide by the law, oth­er­wise why would they en­gage lawyers?

“If they (de­tainees’ lawyers) were hon­est in sug­gest­ing that there has been any con­tempt, they should have filed an ap­pli­ca­tion im­me­di­ately af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the con­temp­tu­ous act.”

LDF Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli.

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