Lesotho: LDF Paid M10 000 to Gag Shooting Victim's Family

19 November 2019

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) paid M10 000 to the family of Lisebo Tang, who was gunned by soldiers guarding the Ha-Leqele residence of then army commander, Tlali Kamoli, on 9 May 2014.

The money was meant for compensation to buy a cow and sheep to be slaughtered at Ms Tang's funeral as well as pay for her coffin. In return for the payment, the LDF got the Tang family to agree not to sue the army over Ms Tang's death and also gagged the family from speaking to the media about the incident.

This according to Ha-Leqele headman, Tšosane Mphutlane, who testified during yesterday's trial of three soldiers accused of murdering Ms Tang while on guard duty at Lt-Gen Kamoli's home in May 2014.

The three soldiers are Tjekane Sebolai, Selone Ratšiu and Kopano Matsoso. They stand accused of murdering Ms Tang and attempted murder after they shot and injured her male companion, Tšepo Jane.

When the trial got underway before Botswana judge, Justice Kabelo Lebotse, yesterday, Chief Mphutlane took to the stand and read a document which he said was an agreement between the LDF and the Tang family after the 2014 killing of Ms Tang. Chief Mphutlane said he stamped the document in his capacity as a witness and area chief of Ha-Leqele on 14 May 2014.

Part of the agreement was that the Tang family "would not sue the LDF for the death of their child and not talk to media regarding the issue".

"On 14 May 2014 a group of soldiers led by one Khotso Ramoqopo came to my place saying they were a delegation sent by the LDF to negotiate compensation with the Tang family," Chief Mphutlane told the court.

"When we arrived at (the late) Lisebo Tang's home in Ha-Leqele, we found Lisebo's mother, two brothers and two neighbours who had come to pass their condolences.

"They (LDF delegation) said they had come to offer M10 000 compensation which would buy a coffin for the deceased, a cow and a sheep for the burial as well as pay for mortuary services. They said on top of that they would provide the Tang family with transport to attend the post-mortem as well as fetch the corpse from the mortuary.

"The LDF also pledged to build the family a two-roomed house before the funeral as they were still residing in a shack at the time. The agreement was signed that same day and my office stamped it. On 22 May 2014 they came back to give the Tang family the M10 000."

Chief Mphutlane said the soldiers first came to his house in the early hours of 10 May 2014 seeking assistance to get hold of the Tang and Jane families to inform them about the previous night's incident which left Ms Tang dead and Mr Jane injured.

After being shot by the three soldiers, Mr Jane and Ms Tang were rushed to the Makoanyane Military Hospital by Lt-Gen Kamoli's eldest son, Atlehang.

Atlehang, who took the stand as a state witness on Tuesday, said when he ferried the duo to hospital, Ms Tang was still alive and "crying that she had been shot". He said Mr Jane and Ms Tang were found half naked in their vehicle soon after the shooting incident.

"It was between 11pm and 12 midnight when I heard gunshots outside our home. About five to 10 minutes after the shooting died down, I rushed to my father's bedroom where we discussed the incident. He then went outside and came back to inform me that the guards had shot people outside therefore I should take the car and ferry them to the hospital.

"Before fetching the car, I went to the crime scene where I found Tšepo in the driver's seat and Lisebo on the passenger side. Both of them had their pants down on their knees with liquor bottles in the car. Lisebo was crying saying that she had been shot.

"Our neighbour, Tlhoriso Limo and Sebolai were also at the scene and they assisted in loading the injured onto the vehicle which I used to take them to the hospital," Atlehang said.

Atlehang told the court that it was not the first time he was seeing Mr Jane as they were neighbours. He also said that Mr Jane had a company which was responsible for road construction in the area during that time and some of his employees rented the Kamoli family's flats which were opposite the family's private compound.

"Tšepo would at times sleep at our flats which his tenants occupied. The standard procedure while coming to our yard at night while driving was that one has to switch off the front lights and put on the lights inside the car so that the soldiers could clearly see who they were dealing with. The same procedure applied to the tenants and their visitors since only a passage separated the main compound with the rented flats.

"I asked Tšepo why he had driven like that (with his lights on) when he knew there were soldiers guarding the place and he said he was sorry he acted that way because he was drunk. I was with Ratšiu who also asked Tšepo why he had turned the vehicle like that in front of the gate," Atlehang said.

The trial continues today and more witnesses are expected to take the stand. Advocate Lepeli Molapo is the prosecutor while Advocate Sello Tšabeha is representing the accused soldiers.

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