CONGRESS movement politician Bokang Ramatšella faces criminal charges for allegedly tarnishing the image of King Letsie III during a live radio programme two weeks ago.
Mr Ramatšella (39) appeared before the Magistrate’s Court on Friday charged with contravening section 79(2) of the Penal Code Act No.6 of 2010, read with section 79(1) for remarks he allegedly made during a Thaha-Khube FM programme on 27 January 2017.
According to the charge sheet, the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) official “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly” committed an act “calculated to violate the dignity and injure the reputation of His Majesty and/or the Royal Family” during a programme called Khakhathane-ea-likhang.
Mr Ramatšella allegedly made remarks in Sesotho to the effect that All Basotho Convention supporters seemed to have dragged King Letsie III into politics.
Mr Ramatšella is also accused of appealing to His Majesty to “refrain from engaging in politics regardless of whether he supports the opposition or government”.
The outspoken politician also allegedly took issue with King Letsie III for meeting with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Oversight Committee which was conducting consultations with various stakeholders in Lesotho last month.
The Oversight Committee was established by SADC in 2015 to serve as an early warning mechanism of Lesotho’s instability and to monitor the implementation of the regional bloc’s decisions regarding the political and security situation in the country.
Mr Ramatšella is alleged to have said “they” were not happy about the comments King Letsie III made to the committee.
He also allegedly said the King should be neutral and whatever he would say to the Oversight Committee would be political.
“He is our King. We respect him but not at the expense of our country, our elections and our government…
“Why don’t you (King) stand aside to allow politicians solve their problems?” Mr Ramatšella allegedly said.
He allegedly further told listeners that they should remember that “the same King toppled our government in 1994”.
Mr Ramatšella was released on M2 000 bail and ordered not to interfere with state witnesses and police investigations.
He is expected to appear again before the Magistrate’s Court on Friday next week for the court to set a date of hearing.
Opposition youth leaders had vowed to stage a protest march against the government if no action was taken against Mr Ramatšella for his alleged remarks on the King.