16 September 2017

Lesotho: Soldiers 'Stalk' Cops Probing Murders

THE officer commanding Maseru police urban region, Senior Superintendent Api Letsie, says he received reports that some members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) relentlessly followed his subordinates investigating the death of two army officers in May this year.

SSP Letsie said this while testifying in the High Court yesterday in a case in which relatives of three men who were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of two LDF officers at Maseru border post on 13 May 2017 want the police and army to produce their bodies dead or alive, after they disappeared following their arrest by the police.

The relatives of Khothatso Makibinyane, Motlatsi Pakela and Lekhoele Noko lodged applications after they suspected the two security agencies of being involved in their disappearance.

The trio were among six men arrested on 13 May 2017 following the shooting dead of the two army officers at the border post.

Two of the six, who were identified as a South African national and a Mosotho man respectively were released a day after their arrest.

The other three were released from police custody on 16 May 2017 but were never seen or heard from by their relatives ever since.

The sixth arrestee, Motlatsi Rantaoana (23), has since been remanded in custody and is awaiting trial in the Maseru Central Correctional Institute after being charged with murdering the two army officers.

In his attempt to clear the police in the disappearance of the three men, SSP Letsie told the court the missing trio was released from Pitso Ground Police Station on 16 May 2017.

He said the Occurrences Book (OB) that was used at Pitso Ground Police Station that day would reflect that the trio were released by police that day and have never been in police custody since.

Narrating what he knows about the incident he said: "On the 13th day of May this year, I got a report that some members of the LDF were shot and some men were already arrested and kept as suspects at the border post police station.

"I rushed there and found those suspects in police custody.

"I found some members of the LDF already present and I understood they were there because the victims of the shooting were their colleagues," he said.

Asked by Justice Semapo Peete if some members of the LDF interfered with their investigations at the border post police station, he said: "When the interviews were going on at the border post police station on the individual suspects, there entered one police officer called Sub-Inspector Ramohau.

"He reported that there was a group of soldiers milling around outside the offices and he suggested that the suspects should be taken out of those offices for their safety as the soldiers seemed to be angry towards them (suspects).

"I ordered that the suspects should be taken to Pitso Ground Police Station where they were kept, while investigations were continuing.

"I asked one of the LDF officers to be present to assist police with investigations, specifically in relation to the particulars of the soldiers who were killed and how the police could have access to their bodies as they were taken to the military hospital.

"Indeed, Captain Monyeke was the LDF officer who had been present all the time as the investigations were continuing.

"I also got reports by my junior officers that members of the LDF were following them wherever they were going as they were investigating the case. They even followed them to Mohale's Hoek.

"They further reported that the LDF members used to be present around the police offices before those three men were released from police custody," he said.

Two of the three men, Khothatso Makibinyane and Motlatsi Pakela, were last seen when released by police on 16 May 2017 at Pitso Ground Police Station.

Lekhoele Noko was allegedly kidnapped by armed men who ambushed a bus he was in at Lekokoaneng on 15 May, 2017 as he was on the way to his home in Leribe following his release from Pitso Ground Police Station.

The case to inquire the circumstances that led to the disappearance of the three men is proceeding.

However, Justice Peete told the lawyers to meet him on Monday next week to discuss how to go forward with the case after saying he felt it was necessary that LDF Captain Monyeke is called before court to answer questions because his name kept on being mentioned in the inquiry.

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