Man narrates ‘police torture ordeal’
FIFTY-THREE year old, Mokoto Lentsoe on Tuesday gave a harrowing account of his ordeal at the hands of members of the police’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) who allegedly assaulted him and 14 others at a public bar in Mafeteng 2011.
Mr Lentsoe was testifying in the High Court in a case in which he and 14 other Mafeteng residents are seeking compensation for damages from the Police Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa ranging from M200 000 to M350 000 each for the alleged assault.
Mr Lentsoe told the court that the SOU barged into Lekoantlane Public Bar in Mafeteng between 8 and 9pm on 18 February 2011.
He said the police immediately ordered everyone in the bar to raise up their hands and lean against the wall before proceeding to search them.
They were then ordered out of the bar and forced to “roll on the ground from the door to the toilet and at the same time they were kicking us”.
Mr Lentsoe — who also told the court that he was a teacher by profession — said they were forced to roll on the rocky ground that had potholes which were filled with water as it had just rained.
He said the ordeal lasted 40 to 50 minutes before they were ordered to disperse.
Asked by his lawyer, Advocate Mpho Motsamai, how he felt after the ordeal he said: “I was in pain as I sustained injuries on my shoulders, knees, feet and my wrists.
“I was scared and felt humiliated,” he further stated, adding he reported the matter to Mafeteng police the next day and asked for a medical form so that he could go for a medical examination.
“I went to one Dr Rathebe’s surgery and he examined me after which he filled in the medical form.
“I made a copy of the medical form and took the original copy back to the police,” he said.
For the defence, Advocate Motlalepula Nonyane said Mr Lentsoe’s testimony was fabrication.
He said the medical report, which was produced in court, did not conform to the nature of injuries he alleged in his testimony.
Advocate Nonyane had asked him if he had been going to work after the alleged ordeal.
In response Mr Lentsoe said: “I went to the school where I work on Monday and proceeded with my normal duties as the incident had occurred on Friday.”
Advocate Nonyane said it was impossible that the doctor could make a report that he sustained “severe” injuries, which posed a danger to his life with disability implications, yet he was able to go to work normally after two days.
This issue also attracted the attention the presiding judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi.
In his remarks the judge said: “You were able to go to work two days after the incident, yet the doctor in this form shows that the amount of force applied on you was ‘severe’, injuries ‘severe’, danger to life ‘severe’, everything ‘severe’? You were not even hospitalised.
“I’m just remarking that the doctor seemed to have exaggerated or was he present in the tavern?” he asked.
Mr Lentsoe replied by saying the doctor was not present at the tavern and he was not a doctor and therefore was not in a position to comment on how doctors carry out their work.
The case was postponed to 6 February this year.