Mokhosi speaks out against police brutality

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Bereng Mpaki

FORMER Defence and National Security minister Tšeliso Mokhosi has called on the government to capacitate the police with proper investigative skills so that they do not resort to torture and other brutal methods to extract confessions from suspects.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader served as Defence minister in the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven party coalition government from 2015 to 2017. He said he had experienced first-hand how brutal the police could be when he was allegedly tortured in 2017 to get him to confess to murdering Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng. He however, denies the murder charges.

Responding to Police and Public Safety Minister ‘Mamoipone Senauoane’s pledge in parliament on Friday to prioritise the re-training of police officers to improve their performance, Mr Mokhosi said such training programmes were long overdue as the police continued to brutalise suspects.

Ms Senauoane, who had requested a M741 million budget for her ministry, said among other things, the money would be used to recruit more police officers as well as conduct training programmes to boost their crime fighting capabilities.

“We are going to conduct training programmes during the 2020/2021 financial year to improve police officers’ skills to investigate crimes,” Ms Senauoane said.

“We will also recruit an additional 250 police officers to increase the strength of the police force to tackle crimes such as murder, stock theft and burglary.”

She said the ministry would also refurbish existing police stations and construct new ones as well as housing for police officers in different parts of the country.

Legislators approved the proposed budget for her ministry but before that, Mr Mokhosi had applauded her commitment to the capacitation of police officers with investigative skills.

He said it was appalling that “in this day and age, suspects continue to be tortured and forced to eat their faeces” by police officers.

“Equipping police officers with relevant skills for investigating crimes is long over-due,” Mr Mokhosi said.

“I have a first-hand experience of appalling treatment by the police. It is despicable to say the least. It is wrong for the police to force suspects to eat their faeces or burn them with a hot spade. I suspect that they resort to these brutal tactics due to lack of proper investigative skills.”

Mr Mokhosi made headlines in September 2017 when he sensationally accused the police of torturing him, to a point where he soiled himself, to get him to confess to the murder of PC Khetheng. The murder occurred while Mr Mokhosi was still a cabinet minister in 2016.

PC Khetheng, who was stationed in Mokhotlong, was last seen alive being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe, on 25 March 2016.

He had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of a senior officer in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

His remains were eventually exhumed at the Lepereng Cemetery, Maseru in August 2017. Mr Mokhosi handed himself over to the police after being summoned to assist with the investigations into PC Khetheng’s murder.

He was subsequently charged with murder. At some point in September 2017, he even fled the country claiming police wanted him dead after brutally torturing him while in custody.

Other suspects in the PC Khetheng murder case are police officers, Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo.

The case is still pending.

 

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