11 November 2017

Lesotho: Four Soldiers Charged With Murders

FOUR Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members have been charged with murdering three men in April 2012 around Ha Motanyane and Matholeng by the Mafeteng Magistrate's Court.

The four - Lance Corporal Sebilo Sebilo (33), Lance Corporal Khauhelo Makoae (35), Private Thebe Tšepe (37) and Private Tšepo Thakeli (32) - were on Tuesday remanded into custody by the court.

The LDF members were immediately transferred to a Maseru prison which police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, would not specify for security reasons.

Insp Mopeli told the Lesotho Times that the four LDF members allegedly shot dead Pakiso Maruoa, Thabang Sole and Monyane Matsi of Ha Lepolesa in April 2012. He said the incident occurred around Ha Motanyane or Matholeng, adding that the four were expected to appear in court for a remand hearing.

He said the police were handling the matter with care, since it had national security implications.

"I cannot elaborate on the reasons for their transfer from Mafeteng since it is a very sensitive security issue that should be handled with caution," he said.

Over the past two months, the law enforcement agency has been arresting LDF members implicated in various unresolved crimes committed in the preceding years.

The prosecutions are in line with the recommendations of a 10-member commission of inquiry into the causes of Lesotho's perennial instability which carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015.

Among the inquiry's recommendations was the suspension of LDF officers implicated in cases of murder, attempted murder and treason while investigations into the allegations proceeded in line with international best practice.

Former LDF commander Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli was last month charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder.

The murder charge is for the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

The 14 attempted murder charges stem from the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, 'Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

Asked if Lt-Gen Kamoli would also be charged with the murders along with the four LDF members when they reappear in court, Insp Mopeli said: "At the moment, we only have details pertaining to the four soldiers."

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