Soldiers grilled over ramahloko killing
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.