No charge for ‘hu­mil­i­ated’ pri­est

. . . as Rev Khaketla is dra­mat­i­cally ar­rested dur­ing church ser­vice

Lesotho Times - - News - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

SUS­PENDED Angli­can Church pri­est, Rev­erend Fa­ther Maieane Khaketla, who was dra­mat­i­cally ar­rested on Sun­day dur­ing a church ser­vice at St James and St Mary Cathe­dral in Maseru, has not been charged de­spite ap­pear­ing be­fore the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day.

Rev Khaketla was sus­pended by Angli­can Bishop of Le­sotho, Bishop Adam Mal­lane Taaso, in Au­gust 2011 for a speech he had made at the fu­neral of a fel­low cleric in South Africa. Af­ter nu­mer­ous bids for re­in­state­ment failed, Rev Khaketla in July last year sur­prised his col­leagues and con­gre­ga­tion by re­in­stat­ing him­self and once again con­duct­ing Mass at St James and St Mary Cathe­dral.

How­ever, on Sun­day Rev Khaketla was dra­mat­i­cally ar­rested in the church’s sanc­tu­ary by po­lice of­fi­cers and es­corted into an await­ing pick-up truck be­fore be­ing whisked to the Maseru Cen­tral Charge Of­fice where he was locked up in a cell.

Af­ter three hours in de­ten­tion, the cleric was re­leased by the po­lice to his lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Haae Phoofolo (King’s Coun­sel), on con­di­tion the so­lic­i­tor would avail Rev Khaketla be­fore the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court on Mon­day this week to be charged.

With scores of peo­ple hav­ing gath­ered at the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court to wit­ness his hear­ing on Mon­day, Rev Khaketla was in­stead re­ferred to the of­fice of the Maseru Ur­ban Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Mot­latsi Map­ola, by the court au­thor­i­ties with­out any charges be­ing pre­ferred against him.

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo KC yes­ter­day con­firmed to the Le­sotho Times his client had not been charged “as of now”.

How­ever, Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo KC said he was shown a court or­der dated 14 June 2012, “which ap­pears to be a doc­u­ment the po­lice used to ar­rest him from church on Sun­day”.

“The doc­u­ment is a court or­der from 2012, di­rect­ing Rev Khaketla to re­frain from en­ter­ing the church’s sanc­tu­ary. It is not a war­rant for his ar­rest. The doc­u­ment is not even di­rect­ing the po­lice to ar­rest and de­tain Rev Khaketla,” said Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo KC.

For his part, Rev Khaketla – who is also Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ’ Mam­phono Khaketla’s brother – told this pa­per yes­ter­day he was re­quested by Snr Supt Map­ola to write “an apolo­getic let­ter ask­ing him (Sen Supt Map­ola) to with­draw the case the po­lice have against me”.

“This re­quest comes as a shock to me, be­cause I don’t know of any case the po­lice have against me. I don’t even un­der­stand why they ar­rested me in the first place.”

Nar­rat­ing de­tails of his ar­rest, the rev­erend said: “I went to church as usual. At 8.20 am when I ar­rived, I saw the church war­den (name with­held) stand­ing out­side with two men. The two men rushed to me and in­tro­duced them­selves as po­lice­men. They said they had been sent by the of­fi­cer com­mand­ing Maseru Cen­tral to call me to the cen­tral charge of­fice.

“I told them I was just go­ing into a ser­vice. I also asked them to tell their boss to write me a for­mal let­ter invit­ing me. The po­lice of­fi­cer re­trieved a bat­tered pho­to­copy of a court or­der that had been granted to the Lord Bishop of Le­sotho, Bishop Adam Mal­lane Taaso on 14 June 2012. It was an or­der bar­ring me from en­ter­ing the sanc­tu­ary at the cathe­dral.”

Rev Khaketla said he walked away from the two of­fi­cers and joined the ser­vice. How­ever, he no­ticed dur­ing the ser­vice that “church war­dens rushed in and out and con­sulted with the dean and other mem­bers of the church coun­cil”.

“At 9.40, the church war­den came up and an­nounced to the con­gre­ga­tion the po­lice were present, adding they were go­ing to do their duty and no one should be sur­prised.”

Rev Khaketla said a po­lice in­spec­tor came to him at the sanc­tu­ary and asked him to walk out of the church with him.

“I told him I was in church and he should wait for me out­side. A group of 10 armed po­lice of­fi­cers de­scended on the sanc­tu­ary and sur­rounded me. I told them they were in the sanc­tu­ary where they were not sup­posed to be, and asked them to leave. One young ar­ro­gant trooper, who ap­par­ently was their spokesman said that he was also do­ing God’s work by com­ing to ar­rest me.

“I asked for a war­rant of ar­rest, and he said they were war­rants enough as they were. He was very ag­gres­sive and said if I re­fused to come with them vol­un­tar­ily, they would take me force­fully.

“I told them I was not pre­pared to go with them. With the dean and the church war­den stand­ing by and smil­ing, the trooper shouted an or­der and they swooped on me and car­ried me off, cas­sock, alb, stole and all, throw­ing me into their wait­ing truck. I was placed be­tween two of­fi­cers with AK47 as­sault ri­fles.

“A young girl who was stand­ing out­side was tak­ing pho­tographs with her phone. A po­lice of­fi­cer shouted and charged at her with a drawn pis­tol. She ran off and dis­ap­peared be­hind the church’s Train­ing Cen­tre. When the of­fi­cer came back he was swear­ing. The oth­ers said he should have de­stroyed that phone be­cause ‘th­ese devils’ were go­ing to up­load them on Face­book.

“I was taken to the Maseru Cen­tral Charge Of­fice, where I was thrown into a cell with my alb and stole in tow. The cell was typ­i­cally smelly, with noth­ing but a stink­ing blan­ket on the floor and a 20 litre plas­tic bucket full of urine in one cor­ner. I asked for a chair, but was told it was a lux­ury de­tainees were not al­lowed.

“I was no­ti­fied I would ap­pear in court the next day and stood in the cell un­til 12.50pm when Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo ar­rived.”

Asked what ac­tion he in­tended to take af­ter his or­deal, Rev Khaketla would only say: “Wait un­til that time comes.”

The Le­sotho Times is in pos­ses­sion of Bishop Taaso’s found­ing af­fi­davit in the 2012 ap­pli­ca­tion that led to the is­suance of a court or­der in­ter­dict­ing Rev Khaketla from en­ter­ing the sanc­tu­ary.

In the found­ing af­fi­davit, Bishop Taaso notes on 17 April 2011, he wrote a let­ter of sus­pen­sion to Rev Khaketla.

How­ever, the bishop notes de­spite the let­ter, Rev Khaketla con­tin­ued to “take his seat at the sanc­tu­ary dur­ing church ser­vices in to­tal dis­re­gard of the terms of his sus­pen­sion”.

“The con­duct of the re­spon­dent (Rev Kha- ketla) is all the cir­cum­stance wrong­ful and threat­ens to un­der­mine the es­tab­lished author­ity of the church. I have no other ad­e­quate rem­edy to avert the said wrong­ful con­duct and threat save to pro­ceed for the re­lief sought herein.”

Bishop Taaso also states the “ir­repara­ble harm threat­ened by re­spon­dent’s con­duct” was of the con­gre­ga­tion likely be­ing “di­vided and po­larised in cir­cum­stances that threaten the unity of the church”.

“This can­not be coun­te­nanced,” Bishop Taaso as­serts.

In the court or­der is­sued by Mag­is­trate Mote­bele and dated 14 June 2012, Rev Khaketla is “re­strained and in­ter­dicted from vi­o­lat­ing the terms of his sus­pen­sion by tak­ing his seat at the sanc­tu­ary of the church dur­ing church ser­vices of the Angli­can Church of South­ern Africa in the dio­ce­ses of Le­sotho”.

Ef­forts to get in touch with Snr Supt Map­ola, in­clud­ing calls and a visit to his of­fice, were fruit­less yes­ter­day.

ACL Bishop Adam Mal­lane Taaso car­ries out a cleans­ing cer­e­mony at St James and St Mary Cathe­dral in Maseru yes­ter­day. In­set: Rev­erend Fa­ther Maieane Khaketla.

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