Bloc queries Mokhosi tor­ture claim

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

A SOUTH­ERN African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Min­is­te­rial Dou­ble Troika fact-find­ing mis­sion to Le­sotho has poured cold water on for­mer De­fence min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi’s ( pic­tured) claims of po­lice tor­ture, say­ing there was no ev­i­dence to back up the al­le­ga­tion. Mr Mokhosi, who is also Le­sotho Con­gress for Democ­racy (LCD) deputy leader, was ar­rested on 28 Au­gust this year and charged with the mur­der of Po­lice Con­sta­ble (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng along with four po­lice of­fi­cers. The for­mer min­is­ter was even­tu­ally re­leased on bail and re­leased a state­ment ac­cus­ing the po­lice of forc­ing him to con­fess to killing PC Khetheng while be­ing in­ter­ro­gated. Mr Mokhosi also ac­cused the law en­force­ment agency of tor­tur­ing him and co­erc­ing him to make a false state­ment be­fore the Mag­is­trates’ Court about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing PC Khetheng’s death. Mr Mokhosi has since fled the coun­try cit­ing a plot to as­sas­si­nate him. The Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) has ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing the agency does not tor­ture sus­pects. LMPS spokesper­son, In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli, said Mr Mokhosi should have alerted the mag­is­trate of the al­leged tor­ture and death threats “if they were true”. The SADC Min­is­te­rial Dou­ble Troika fact- find­ing mis- sion was in Le­sotho ear­lier this month af­ter the 5 Septem­ber 2017 as­sas­si­na­tion of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo.

It pre­sented its find­ings last Fri­day dur­ing a one-day SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Pre­to­ria, South Africa.

The mis­sion queried Mr Mokhosi’s claim of be­ing tor­tured by LMPS mem­bers.

“In re­la­tion to al­le­ga­tions of tor­ture, and specif­i­cally re­gard­ing the for­mer Min­is­ter of De­fence, it was re­ported that al­though th­ese iso­lated in­ci­dents of tor­ture can­not be dis­puted, in gen­eral there has been no par­tic­u­lar ev­i­dence of any al­le­ga­tions of tor­ture by the po­lice, and in fact when ap­pear­ing be­fore the mag­is­trate, and on re­lease from cus­tody, the for­mer min­is­ter did in­di­cate that he was not tor­tured but had been taken in for in­ter­ro­ga­tion,” reads part of the find­ings.

Mem­bers of the mis­sion met with op­po­si­tion lead­ers who ex­pressed con­cern about an “uncer­tain and tense po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere” pre­vail­ing in the coun­try.

Mean­while, the mis­sion also urged the Dou­ble Troika sum­mit to take note of the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho (CCL) and the Coun­cil of NGOS’ plea for long-term and sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges in Le­sotho.

“They also crit­i­cized the ap­proach used by SADC, which was seen as a per­pet­ual fact find­ing mis­sion ap­proach, where at all the time, SADC mis­sions will meet in­di­vid­ual groups, with­out bring­ing all groups/stake­hold­ers to sit to­gether dis­cuss and de­vice sus­tain­able so­lu­tions,” reads the mis­sion’s re­port.

“In this re­gard they em­pha­sised that an ef­fec­tive na­tional di­a­logue is nec­es­sary and re­quires both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal fa­cil­i­ta­tors, who will ded­i­cate ad­e­quate time to en­gage con­tin­u­ously with a broad-spec­trum of stake­hold­ers.”

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