Soldiers chal­lenge dis­missal over preg­nan­cies

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge, Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi, is to­day ex­pected to pre­side a case in which three fe­male mem­bers of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) are chal­leng­ing their dis­missal from the army af­ter they fell preg­nant.

Pri­vates, Lieketso Mokhele, ‘Masaule Le­tima and ‘Ma­sine Nt­soha filed an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court in De­cem­ber 2016, pe­ti­tion­ing the court to di­rect the LDF com­man­der to re­in­state them to the army.

On 22 March 2016, for­mer LDF com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, dis­missed the trio from the force af­ter they fell preg­nant.

They were dis­missed in line with the LDF Stand­ing Or­der No. 2 of 2014 which stip­u­lates that the fe­male soldiers should not fall preg­nant dur­ing the first five years of ser­vice.

The trio, in their court pa­pers, asked the court to re­view, cor­rect and set aside the army com­man­der’s de­ci­sion to dis­charge them from the LDF on the grounds that the de­ci­sion was “ir­reg­u­lar and un­law­ful”.

Another or­der sought is “that ap­pli­cants be re­in­stated back to their po­si­tions and ranks in the LDF with­out any loss of ben­e­fits aris­ing there­from.”

Al­ter­na­tively they want to be com­pen­sated to the tune of M500 000 each, if they are not re­in­stated.

Part of the af­fi­davit made by Pri- vate Mokhele states: “I joined the Le­sotho De­fence Force in Oc­to­ber 2013 and at that time I started my six months re­cruit­ment train­ing into the army”.

“At the time when I joined the army I was al­ready a mar­ried woman with one child. On the 3 March 2014 Gen­eral Stand­ing Or­der No. 2 of 2014 was is­sued which ex­pressly com­mu­ni­cated a pro­hi­bi­tion to the ef­fect that fe­male soldiers in the rank of Pri­vate are not al­lowed to bear chil­dren.

“The above-men­tioned stand­ing or­der was com­mu­ni­cated when I was barely twenty days away from com­plet­ing my six month train­ing as a cadet in the army.”

She says on the 28 March, 2014 dur­ing the pass out cer­e­mony LtGen Kamoli re­it­er­ated that the fe­male soldiers of her rank, who had not com­pleted five years of ser­vice in the army, should not fall preg­nant.

She said no ex­pla­na­tion was given for that or­der.

She stated that she was de­ployed to the south­ern part of the coun­try in May 2014, adding she only be­came aware that she was preg­nant when she went for med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, which re­vealed that she was seven months preg­nant.

“I im­me­di­ately in­formed my su­pe­ri­ors about my con­di­tion and also ex­pressed my shock and dis­may as I had been us­ing con­tra­cep­tives with­out any qualms un­til then,” she said.

She stated that a few days later she was is­sued with ‘a show cause no­tice’ for hav­ing dis­obeyed the Stand­ing Or­der No.2 of 2014 “which ex­pressly pro­hib­ited preg­nancy of fe­male soldiers.”

She added: “I must be quick to men­tion that in­stead of con­duct­ing a dis­ci­plinary en­quiry against me, the LDF com­mand is­sued me with a let­ter upon which I was in­vited to show cause why I may not be dis­charged from the army.”

Pri­vate Mokhele ar­gues de­spite her re­ply to the let­ter the for­mer army com­man­der dis­missed her from the LDF.

The other two fe­male soldiers also at­tached their sup­port­ing af­fi­davits chal­leng­ing the le­gal­ity of their dis­missal.

FE­MALE soldiers are not al­lowed to fall preg­nant dur­ing the first five years of ser­vice.

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