HIGH Court judge Justice Semapo Peete yesterday ordered the commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to bring Lance Corporal Pitso William Molefi before court today after the officer was allegedly abducted by soldiers on Monday.
Lance Corporal Molefi works in the LDF’s Salaries and Accounts department at Ratjomose Barracks.
His wife, Ntsoaki Molefi, on Tuesday filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order directing the respondents to make him available in court yesterday at 4pm.
The LDF Commander, Minister of Defence, Director of Military Intelligence (MI), Minister of Justice and of Law and Constitutional Affairs, as well as the Attorney General are cited as respondents in the case.
At around 10am yesterday, Justice Peete ordered the respondents to bring Lance Corporal Molefi before the court at 4pm.
However, Advocate Mohapi, representing the respondents, told Justice Peete it was not possible to bring the officer to court at the time set by the judge.
“My instructions are that it is impracticable to bring him before court now,” said Advocate Mohapi.
“But the respondents have no objection to produce the applicant’s husband before court, except that it was impracticable to bring him before court at the time stipulated by the court.
“My instructions are that he can only be available tomorrow (Thursday) at 11:00am as he is now placed at a place far away from Maseru.”
A lawyer in the LDF, Advocate Sello, undertook to bring Lance Corporal Molefi to court today at 11:00am.
However, he told the court that Lance Corporal Molefi was under arrest facing military charges after violating provisions of the Lesotho Defence Force Act number four of 1996.
“The applicant’s husband is being charged with contravening section 48 and 49 of the Lesotho Defence Force Act number four of 1996,” Advocate Sello said.
He, however, did not elaborate on the charges, saying he could not disclose where the army had kept Lance Corporal Molefi “so that we don’t jeopardize the ongoing investigation. It is also for security reasons.”
Advocate Christopher Lephuthing – who is representing Lance Corporal Molefi’s wife in the case – said: “We are worried that the court has ordered that he be produced before court at 4pm today, but they (LDF) say they will only make him available tomorrow.
“It is unreasonable that they say he is placed far away from here without mentioning the exact place where they have kept him.
“This is to undermine the decorum of this honourable court now that they have even accepted that they have kept the applicant’s husband.”
However, Justice Peete said the undertaking made by Advocate Sello “means the court can make inference that the man is still around”.
In her affidavit, Lance Corporal Molefi’s wife said she received a report when she was at work on Monday that her husband had been kidnapped.
Ms Molefi said she received a message that her husband had been abducted by soldiers at Tikoe Primary School, where she works as a teacher.
Acompanied by one ‘Manthuping Eliza Molapo, she went to Ratjomose Barracks to enquire about her husband’s whereabouts.
“Upon our arrival, we were denied access to his office but the person who conducted investigations on his (Lance Corporal Molefi) whereabouts told us he had left for other assignments after opening a parade with a word of prayer,” she said.
Ms Molefi said she went to the Minister of Defence to lay her complaint about her missing husband.
“I personally went to Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi to report the incident, who has since promised to get back to me once he received details of the detention,” she stated.
Lance Corporal Molefi’s disappearance comes after Lance Corporal Toma Nehemiah Jobo also went missing last Thursday.