Army contests torture lawsuit



Motlomelo Motlomelo
Motlomelo Motlomelo

Staff Reporter

A Motimposo businessman is insisting on M400 000 compensation for the “torture” he allegedly suffered at the hands of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) eight years ago.

Motlomelo Motlomelo told High Court judge, Justice ‘Maseshope Hlajoane last Friday that the claim was for his “unlawful” arrest and detention allegedly by LDF members on the night of 24 June 2007. The businessman says he was in the company of his wife and children at the time of the arrest, and subsequently went into exile in South Africa for three years.

Mr Motlomelo, who is being represented by King’s Counsel (KC) Motiea Teele, also told the court that the M190 000 being proposed as compensation by the respondents was “way below expectations”.

The LDF Commander and Attorney General, who are being represented by Advocate Rapelang Motsieloa, are the first and second respondent respectively, in the case.

Mr Motlomelo submitted before court that men claiming to be police searched his home on the night in question, saying they were looking for firearms, before taking him away.

The men, he added, had their faces covered and as a result, could not identify them. The businessman also said the men blindfolded him as they took him away.

However, in his heads-of-argument, Advocate Motsieloa told the court it was important to note throughout his testimony, at no stage did the complainant ever say he identified even one of the men who allegedly abducted him.

“Throughout his ordeal, the plaintiff says he was blindfolded until he was taken to Police Headquarters,” he said.

The applicant had submitted that LDF members were present during his interrogation at Pitso Ground Police Station.

However, the respondents counter-argued, noting: “The question is, how did the plaintiff know his abductors were members of the LDF? The closest he came to identify them, according to him, was when an officer at Police Headquarters asked what the soldiers wanted from him.

“The plaintiff did not claim that the soldiers took part in the interrogation. All he said was that they were present.

“We submit that their presence alone did not mean that they were the abductors, especially when, according to the plaintiff, there were soldiers here in detention as well.

“We, therefore, ask the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim that his abductors were members of the Lesotho Defence Force because he  has failed to prove it.”

However, the respondents further submitted: “If the court finds otherwise, we wish to contest the amount of damages being sought by the plaintiff. It is too high.

“We suggest an amount of M190, 000.”

Meanwhile, Justice Hlajoane postponed the matter to 30 September 2015.

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