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Army faces M1.8m suit

by Lesotho Times
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Tefo Tefo

RETIRED Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Sergeant Likoche Motene is suing the army commander for M1.8 million in damages for the torture he was allegedly subjected to by fellow army officers two years ago.

Sergeant Motene is claiming M1 850 000 from the army commander as compensation after he was allegedly arrested and tortured by LDF officers in May 2015 during the period when some members of the LDF were arrested on suspicion on mutiny.

Twenty three army officers are still on trial before the Court Martial on charges of mutiny.

They are all out of detention after being released from the Maseru Maximum Security prison where they had been detained, on an open arrest – a form of military bail.

They are accused of plotting a mutiny as well as planning to kill some senior army officers.

They were arrested between May and June 2015.

Former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao was fatally shot on 25 June 2015 by army officers who had come to arrest him.

However, Sergeant Motene is not among the 23 army officers because he was not charged after his arrest.

In his claim that he filed in the High Court on Thursday last week, Sergeant Motene wants M1 million for torture, M400 000 for the loss of amenities of life and post-trauma, M250 000 for unlawful arrest and detention as well as M200 000 for contumelia (loss of dignity).

The declaration filed in court on his behalf by his lawyer, Attorney Tumisang Mosotho, describe the circumstances that led to his claim against the army commander.

Part of the declaration reads: “On or about the 23rd May 2015 the plaintiff reported for duty at Makoanyane Barracks at around 0700hrs.

“Shortly thereafter he was arrested without charge and taken to detention by members of LDF under the command by a Lieutenant Colonel Phaila (now Colonel Phaila) and a Captain (Tefo) Hashatsi (now Colonel Hashatsi).

“Plaintiff was taken to Military Intelligence (MI) officers at Ratjomose Barracks where he was cuffed with a steel chain around ankles and wrists and blindfolded with a cotton cloth.”

In the late afternoon of the same day the plaintiff was taken to Setibing Military Base in the outskirts of Maseru city, the declaration stated.

“Throughout the journey to Setibing the plaintiff remained cuffed and blindfolded.

“Immediately upon his arrival at Setibing, the plaintiff was subjected to several acts of torture and inhumane treatment that included being stripped naked in below freezing weather conditions; being drowned in freezing river with his clothes on and both his ankles and wrists cuffed.

He was allegedly also forced to his knees and had his ankles and wrists cuffed together behind his back, making his body “into a kind of bow”.

He allegedly spent the entire night in wet clothes and in a bow position and as a result he could not sleep at all.

The declaration further states that on the following morning of 24 May 2015, Sergeant Motene was interrogated about the alleged plan to kill senior military officers and when he claimed no knowledge of such a plan, he was subjected to different acts of torture including being “severely kicked on the genitalia and told by his tortures to implicate other senior officers like Nkeli, Mokhothu and Kolisang in the plan”.

The same papers state that he was subjected to the same ordeal on 25 May 2015.

He was allegedly taken to the Maseru Maximum Security Prison on the 26 May 2015 and it was only then that the cuffs and blind-folder were removed.

It is alleged that “solely as a result of being tortured, the plaintiff sustained the following physical injuries; abrasions on wrists; swollen hands; tenderness to touch on lumbar spine and sternum area; backache; burning sensation on testes.”

The defendants, army commander and the Attorney General have not yet filed their defence to the claim.


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