Sol­diers grilled over ramahloko killing

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

FOUR Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) of­fi­cers are in po­lice cus­tody and be­ing in­ter­ro­gated in con­nec­tion with the 30 Au­gust 2014 killing of po­lice Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko dur­ing an at­tempted coup against the first govern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

The ar­rest and grilling of the four this week un­folded as Dr Tha­bane’s sec­ond coali­tion govern­ment in­ten­si­fied a blitz to nab peo­ple, mainly in the se­cu­rity clus­ter, im­pli­cated in nu­mer­ous un­re­solved crimes over the past few years.

Dr Tha­bane’s govern­ment was this week slated by the re­spected in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights body, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, for moving too slowly to bring to book all those re­spon­si­ble for hu­man rights abuses in the coun­try be­fore his re­turn to power after the June 3 2017 elec­tions. In its anal­y­sis of the Prime Min­is­ter’s first 100 days in of­fice, Amnesty de­clared that Dr Tha­bane could have done bet­ter in rein­ing the cul­ture of im­punity in Le­sotho and get­ting jus­tice for those affected by rights abuses be­fore he re­turned to power.

But Dr Tha­bane’s govern­ment has strongly dif­fered with Amnesty say­ing it was do­ing all it can to bring all hu­man rights abusers to book. The task was so mam­moth it could not be com­pleted in 100 days, the govern­ment said (see story on Page 2).

The ar­rest and in­ter­ro­ga­tion of the sol­diers sus­pected of in­volve­ment in the killing of Sub In­spec­tor Ramahloko none­the­less un­der­pins the un­re­lent­ing ef­forts of the cur­rent coali­tion govern­ment to nail past hu­man rights abusers.

Po­lice spokesper­son, In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli, con­firmed the ar­rests of the sol­diers but could not be drawn into pro­vid­ing de­tails.

“It is too early for me to com­ment on why the four LDF mem­bers are be­ing in­ter­ro­gated. But we do have in our cus­tody peo­ple of in­ter­est in a cer­tain case, who could be charged or re­leased,” said In­spec­tor Mopeli.

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times un­der­stands that the four LDF mem­bers were be­ing grilled over the killing of Sub-in­spec­tor Ramahloko and other un­re­solved crimes.

An im­pec­ca­ble source told this pub­li­ca­tion that the scope of the in­ter­ro­ga­tion was for un­re­solved se­ri­ous crimes mainly the killing of Sub In­spec­tor Rama­hoko. How­ever, the sol­diers would also be in­ter­ro­gated on other crimes com­mit­ted by the army.

Ear­lier this month, Dr Tha­bane promised to pur­sue jus­tice for the fam­i­lies of Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko and other peo­ple who were killed be­tween 2014 and 2016.

Sub-in­spec­tor Ramahloko was killed dur­ing a predawn Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) raid on three Maseru po­lice sta­tions which the mil­i­tary claimed was meant to foil a Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) plan to arm civil­ians but widely dis­missed as an at­tempt to top­ple a sit­ting govern­ment.

The Au­gust 30 2014 raid was con­ducted soon after Dr Tha­bane, who had come to power after the May 2012 elec­tions, had fired Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli as head of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

The then LDF com­man­der, who re­fused to go then re­tal­i­ated by at­tempt­ing the coup in which sol­diers were de­ployed to raid and seize arms from the po­lice sta­tions around Maseru. Lt Gen Kamoli ac­cused the LMPS of plan­ning to give civil­ians firearms for use dur­ing a Le­sotho Con­gress for Democ­racy (LCD) street protest that was sched­uled for 1 September 2014. LCD

2015 which were won by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili. His govern­ment was ac­cused of se­ri­ous right vi­o­la­tions and turn­ing a blind eye on in­ci­dents like the killing of sun in­spec­tor Ramahloko.

Un­til this week, no ar­rests had been made in con­nec­tion with the Au­gust 30 2014 raid in which sub in­spec­tor Ramahloko was bru­tally mur­dered.

The ar­rests and grilling of the four comes as eight other LDF mem­bers were this week charged with mur­der­ing three men who had been ar­rested over the fa­tal shoot­ing of two army of­fi­cers at Maseru bor­der post on 13 May 2017. (see story on Page 21) leader Methotjoa Mets­ing, who was deputy prime Min­is­ter in Dr Tha­bane’s first coali­tion had fallen out of favour with his boss and the LCD had ar­ranged a protest against the govern­ment it was part of.

The LMPS ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions that it had ever planned to arm civil­ians and Dr Tha­bane fled the coun­try after re­ceiv­ing a tip off that army snipers were after him. He would then only re­turn un­der heavy South African po­lice guard.

The Au­gust 30 events kick-started a se­ries of events that re­sulted in new elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary

PO­LICE Spokesper­son In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli

THE late Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko.

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