I was forced to lie: Mokhosi

Lesotho Times - - News - Moorosi Tsiane

THE op­po­si­tion Lesotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) deputy leader, Tšeliso Mokhosi (pic­tured), has ac­cused the po­lice of forc­ing him to lie about the killing of Po­lice Con­sta­ble (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng dur­ing his re­cent in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

His al­le­ga­tions have how­ever, been de­nied by both the gov­ern­ment and the Lesotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS).

Mr Mokhosi was ar­rested on 28 Au­gust this year and ap­peared be­fore the Mag­is­trate Court two days later where he was charged with the mur­der of PC Khetheng.

He was re­manded in cus­tody and re­leased on Mon­day af­ter High Court judge, Jus­tice Tham­sanqa Nom­ng­congo, granted him bail on Fri­day.

PC Khetheng, last seen in March 2016 at the tra­di­tional feast in Se­both­oane, Leribe, was al­legedly killed by his col­leagues and his ex­humed body was laid to rest a fort­night ago.

In a de­tailed state­ment re­leased this week, Mr Mokhosi nar­rates how LMPS mem­bers al­legedly tor­tured and forced him to lie be­fore the Mag­is­trates’ Court about the death of PC Khetheng.

“Fol­low­ing my ar­rest and de­ten­tion, I was placed in a dark and sting­ing cell at po­lice head­quar­ters, on that date (28 Au­gust) and start­ing from 18:00 hours or there­about I was sub­jected to the most in­hu­mane, bar­baric, sav­age, trau­ma­tis­ing, cruel and heart­less treat­ment by po­lice of­fi­cers,” Mr Mokhosi al­leges.

“I was or­dered to un­dress and while naked, I was chained. My hands were put be­hind my back and hand­cuffed and my legs were hand­cuffed also. The po­lice of­fi­cer then put a plas­tic bag con­tain­ing wa­ter over my face, they sat on my back with the re­sult that I was not able to breath. It suf­fices to say that my breath was blocked and as a re­sult I defe­cated and uri­nated, the po­lice then or­dered me to clean my­self by wash­ing with cold wa­ter.”

The state­ment fur­ther al­leges that dif­fer- ent po­lice of­fi­cers took turns to tor­ture him un­til mid­night.

Mr Mokhosi fur­ther al­leges that he was asked ques­tions about PC Khetheng’s death and was there­after told a “made up” story which he was sup­posed to present be­fore the mag­is­trate.

“I cried and the of­fi­cers told me that this was the first stage and more was yet to come if I did not tell the truth re­gard­ing the death of a per­son de­scribed by them as Mokalekale Khetheng. I was told that if I did not tell the truth I was go­ing to die the same way the said Khetheng died. I nar­rated the lit­tle that I knew about this death and the po­lice of­fi­cers told me that I was ly­ing.

“Af­ter this or­deal the po­lice told me a story, which I was go­ing to re­count be­fore a Mag­is­trate. The po­lice of­fi­cers told me that I had a choice of telling the Mag­is­trate my story from my per­sonal knowl­edge or the story that I was given.

“I was told in blunt terms that if I were to choose my own story I should know that I would die the same way the said Khetheng died. I was still dizzy and fran­tic, and given the pre­vi­ous or­deal dur­ing the night I as­sured the of­fi­cers that I chose their story. At that stage I was told to re­peat what I had just been told, which I duly did,” said the state­ment.

“Be­fore ap­pear­ing be­fore the mag­is­trate I was re­minded by the po­lice of­fi­cers that if I changed the story I was told to re­late to the Mag­is­trate I should know that this would be the last day I see.

I gen­uinely be­lieved and in­ter­preted this to mean that I was go­ing to be killed, I was re­minded that I should never in­form the Mag­is­trate that I had been tor­tured and sub­jected to any kind of ill-treat­ment as that would in­flu­ence the Mag­is­trate not to take any of my sto­ries and that I was go­ing to be to stages two and three of tor­tur­ing and that they can­not guar­an­tee that I would sur­vive.”

Mr Mokhosi said in view of the al­leged threats, he had no choice but to stick to the story he was told by the po­lice.

“Not­with­stand­ing my cruel and in­hu­mane treat­ment I am pre­pared to co-op­er­ate with the po­lice and I urge them not to treat other sub­jects of in­ves­ti­ga­tions the way they treated me.

“I still protest my in­no­cence and con­firm that I am more than ready to stand trial be­cause I know I did not com­mit any crim­i­nal of­fence,” Mr Mokhosi’s state­ment con­cludes.

LMPS spokesper­son, In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli, how­ever re­futed the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing the po­lice do not tor­ture sus­pects.

“Our stance is still the same on this mat­ter and like we have been say­ing, we don’t tor­ture sus­pects and he (Mr Mokhosi) wouldn’t be an ex­cep­tion.

“If that was the case he could have still told the Mag­is­trate that he was tor­tured,” In­spec­tor Mopeli said.

In­spec­tor Mopeli added that there were no al­leged death threats to Mr Mokhosi and it was also not true that he was forced to lie.

“If he is say­ing po­lice of­fi­cers forced him to lie he could have alerted the mag­is­trate and that would have been dealt with so that is not true and there were no death threats made to him by po­lice of­fi­cers,” In­spec­tor Mopeli said.

The Press At­taché at the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, Thabo Thakalekoala, echoed In­spec­tor Mpiti’s sen­ti­ments, say­ing “the LMPS is con­trolled and reg­u­lated by the Po­lice Act and there is nowhere that it pro­vides for peo­ple to be tor­tured.

“What Ntate Mokhosi is do­ing is try­ing to tar­nish the po­lice im­age with these base­less al­le­ga­tions he is mak­ing.”

Thakalekoala said Mr Mokhosi could have asked for a med­i­cal form and proved that he was tor­tured.

“If it is true he was tor­tured why didn’t he ask for a med­i­cal form and prove that he was in­deed tor­tured? He could have also in­formed the mag­is­trate about that and sought pro­tec­tion. So what he is ba­si­cally do­ing now is seek­ing a sym­pa­thy and un­for­tu­nately he is do­ing that by tar­nish­ing the LMPS im­age,” Mr Thakalekoala said.

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