Po­lice ar­rest two over Face­book

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

TWO Ha-mabote men were yes­ter­day ar­rested for al­legedly be­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors of a shad­owy Face­book group that has been re­leas­ing sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion.

Lira Moeti and Mo­hato Seleke were ar­rested early in the morn­ing and taken to Ha-mabote po­lice sta­tion at around 5:30am “with­out any clear rea­sons”, their lawyer, At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, told the Le­sotho Times.

“One po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor (name with­held) de­nied me ac­cess to my clients and didn’t give me clear rea­sons why the two were ar­rested,” At­tor­ney Mosotho said.

“He only told me they were taken to the sta­tion to help po­lice with in­ves­ti­ga­tions which he re­fused to tell me about. I am cur­rently not in a po­si­tion to tell you what the in­ves­ti­ga­tions were about but can only tell you that from Ha-mabote Po­lice Sta­tion, they were taken to Po­lice Head­quar­ters and re­leased af­ter work­ing hours.”

The lawyer said he was un­able to con­sult with his clients af­ter their re­lease be­cause they were tired.

“I un­der­stood that they were tired fol­low­ing their re­lease and did not con­sult them on what re­ally tran­spired at both Ha-mabote Po­lice Sta­tion and Po­lice Head­quar­ters,” said At­tor­ney Mosotho.

“I told them to go to their homes and have a rest. How­ever, they were both in good phys­i­cal con­di­tion de­spite the fa­tigue.”

How­ever, a source close to the mat­ter told the Le­sotho Times Mr Moeti and Mr Mabote were ar­rested for al­legedly be­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors of a Face­book group called ‘Count Down to Elec­tions 2015, 2016 or 2017’.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, the coun­try’s se­cu­rity agen­cies were keen to es­tab­lish the iden­tity of a shad­owy Face­book char­ac­ter called Makhaola Qalo who posts sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion about gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions.

“Makhaola Qalo has been post­ing in­for­ma­tion on the ‘Count Down to Elec­tions 2015, 2016 or 2017’ group be­fore it is in the public do­main. For in­stance, he or she posted the list of sol­diers who were go­ing to be pro­moted af­ter the killing of for­mer army boss Maa­parankoe Ma­hao claim­ing it was a re­ward for car­ry­ing out the op­er­a­tion,” said the source.

“A day af­ter Makhaola Qalo’s post, some sol­diers were pro­moted in the army and peo­ple started to be­lieve the claims he or she made.”

Lt-gen Ma­hao was killed on 25 June 2015 just out­side Maseru dur­ing a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to ar­rest sol­diers sus­pected of be­ing part of an al­leged plot to top­ple the Le­sotho De­fence Force com­mand.

Makhaola Qalo, the source said, had also re­vealed that Bid­vest Car Rental’s con- tract to pro­vide ve­hi­cles to the gov­ern­ment would be ex­tended for two months. The ex­ten­sion was made af­ter one of the com­pa­nies that failed to qual­ify for the ten­der lodged a com­plaint al­leg­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the process.

“Makhaola Qalo posted that the con­tract for Bid­vest, which had been man­ag­ing the gov­ern­ment fleet for six months, would be ex­tended.

“Af­ter a few days, it was an­nounced that the con­tract had been ex­tended for two months,” the source said.

The au­thor­i­ties, said the source, would not dis­cover the iden­tity of the shad­owy char­ac­ter through Mr Moeti and Mr Seleke since the duo “also did not know”.

“The po­lice did not suc­ceed in es­tab­lish­ing who Makhaola Qalo is be­cause Mr Moeti and Mr Seleke said they also did not know him even though they ap­peared to be the ad­min­is­tra­tors of the so­cial me­dia group,” the source added.

Con­tacted for com­ment, po­lice spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Clifford Molefe asked the Le­sotho Times to call af­ter an hour. How­ever, his mo­bile phone was no longer avail­able at the time of go­ing to press.

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