A Ha Ramabanta family is demanding answers after their 38-year-old son died in police custody on Christmas Eve.
Moeti Shokhoe’s uncle Mangate Shokhoe told the Lesotho Times this week that he believes something happened to his nephew after he was arrested on 24 December 2015 on charges of causing grievous bodily harm during a famo-related brawl.
Moeti was a member of the Mafeteng-linked famo gang, Terene, which has been fighting another group nicknamed Seakhi for supremacy with the ensuing violence claiming dozens of lives since 2009.
Mr Shokhoe told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that Moeti was picked up by the police on his way from Ha Ramabanta where he had visited his father.
“On Christmas eve, Moeti went to Ha Ramabanta to take groceries and clothes to his old man. He was accompanied by a few friends,” said Mr Shokhoe.
“As they were going back to Roma, their car was stopped by the police and Moeti was arrested.”
He said the family’s enquiries to the Ha Ramabanta police about Moeti’s whereabouts were fruitless as they were told he had been relocated to Flight One police station in Mazenod.
“Moeti’s father and wife then went to Flight One police station, but were not allowed to see him. They were only told by the police officers that Moeti had requested for some of his clothes to be fetched from his house,” said Mr Shokhoe.
“When Moeti’s father and wife returned with the clothes, they were still not allowed to see him and told to leave them at the police station.
“However, on the next day, the police visited the councillor for Ha Roma and notified him of Moeti’s death without explaining the cause of his demise. The councillor then came on his own to the Shokhoe homestead to break the news to us.”
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Mr Shokhoe said they were told by the councillor that Moeti’s body was in mortuary in Roma where a post-mortem was being conducted by a government pathologist. However, he said the post mortem report did not correlate with Moeti’s “very visible” injuries.
“The injuries on his body showed that he had been beaten to a pulp since he was bruised all over and his skin had a greenish appearance,” said Mr Shokhoe.
“The pathologist only said Moeti had been in the early stages of a Tuberculosis infection, but denied that my nephew had wounds that showed he had been assaulted.”
He said the family would look for another pathologist for a second opinion since they did not agree with the results of the post-mortem.
Asked if his nephew was involved in the bloody famo turf wars, Mr Shokhoe said Moeti actually tried to bring peace between the Seakhi and Terene members.
“He tried to stop the brawl between Seakhi and Terene members. Even if Moeti was accused of assaulting someone, he did not deserve to die,” he said.
“Moeti should have been brought before a court of law and made to answer for the charges levelled against him. All the other people who were involved in the fight are still alive.”
Police spokesperson, Senior Inspector Clifford Molefe, said Moeti had been on the run over charges of causing grievous bodily harm during a fight.
“The deceased was on the police’s wanted list after he managed to escape capture, while his three accomplices where arrested sometime last month,” said Senior Inspector Molefe.
“The police did not kill him. The post-mortem was done, and serves as proof that he was not killed. The family is at liberty to look for their own pathologists.”