THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has handed over two of its members to the police suspected of murdering a Thaba-Tseka man.
Private Pitso Hlaheng (33) and Private Relebohile Thamae (26) are jointly charged with Seturumane Ramotsoari (55) of Lesobeng, Ha-Peterose, Thaba-Tseka and Liau Thipa (52) of the same area.
The four are facing charges of kidnapping and murdering 34-year-old Lechesa Thakholi of Lesobeng Ha-Letsisa, Thaba-Tseka whose corpse was discovered in Semphethenyana, Maseru on 6 September this year.
According to LDF spokesperson, Colonel Ntlele Ntoi, the two suspects were handed over to the police by the Military Police. The duo has since been remanded in custody by the Thaba-Tseka Magistrate’s Court.
Colonel Ntoi said the junior officers were handed over following joint investigations by the army and police.
“The LDF public relations office received a report that two members of the army were suspects in the murder of a man from Lesobeng, in Thaba-Tseka. It was difficult to ascertain what had really happened,” he told the Lesotho Times yesterday.
“Investigations were undertaken by a joint LDF and police team. The team’s investigations unearthed compelling evidence associating the duo to the murder and the place where the corpse was found.”
Colonel Ntoi indicated the corpse was found near the Phuthiatsana River, adding the outcome of the investigations prompted the Military Police to arrest the suspects and hand them over to the police.
“The two suspects are still in police custody and I must mention their alleged crime has nothing to do with the army. They are facing the charges in their personal capacity,” he said, adding the primary responsibility of the army was to protect the country, its people and their properties.
In a separate interview yesterday, Thaba-Tseka Police Deputy Station Commander, Superintendent Ramone Ramone confirmed the development.
“It is true that two members of the army – Pitso Hlaheng and Relebohile Thamae – were arrested on 10 September in their personal capacity following the kidnap and murder of Lechesa Thakholi,” he said.
“The duo and their accomplice appeared in court today (yesterday). They are still in police custody while waiting to apply for bail.”
Superintendent Ramone said reports showed the deceased allegedly had an argument with one of the suspects – Mr Thipa – who worked at Mr Ramotsoari’s business in Thaba-Tseka as a security guard.
He said it is alleged Mr Thipa called Mr Ramotsoari to report his dispute with Mr Thakholi.
“It is alleged that Ramotsoari, who works at Kao Mining, called the two army officers who acted in their personal capacity to kidnap and murder Lechesa Thakholi,” Superintendent Ramone added.