Brigadier narrates detention ordeal

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army

Tefo Tefo

ANOTHER top officer, Brigadier Thoso Mareka, was on Tuesday brought to the High Court under heavy escort by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

Brigadier Mareka—who is being detained at the Maseru Central Maximum Security Prison—was arrested by LDF members on Friday last week, but his charge was not revealed in court.

On arrival at the High Court, the officer was guided to courtroom Number Five by Captain Tefo Hashatsi, due to a longstanding eyesight problem.

Asked by the judge if he was feeling well after his detention, Brigadier Mareka said: “I am not well; my hands and feet are painful.

“I am also feeling pain in my chest. Besides, I am not well as I have a problem with my eyesight. I can only see this far, which is about a metre.”

Brigadier Mareka told the court he “lost” his sight in 2009.

The officer then told the court that he was being kept shackled while in detention.

“I am always shackled and the chains hurt my feet and cause me a lot of pain. I am also handcuffed and as a result, my hands are painful.

“As for my chest, I was suffocated by a tube during, hence this pain.”

Brigadier Mareka also said he was suffering from kidney failure—a problem he said he had lived with for a long time.

Asked to explain about the special diet he said he needed, the brigadier told the court: “I need special nutrition for the medication I am taking to work.

“For instance, I only drink apple-juice, guava-juice and mango-juice.

“I am allergic to fish. In fact, I don’t eat sea-food at all. I don’t use hot spices on my food either.

“There are also special herbs that my wife uses on my food and I cannot elaborate on them because only my wife knows them well.”

Brigadier Mareka briefly told the court how he was arrested: “I was arrested on Friday at around 5pm. I was told to report at the Military Intelligence office and arrested upon my arrival.”

His visibly angry lawyer, Advocate Christopher Lephuthing asked the court to order the brigadier’s immediate release on account of his ill-health.

“I would urge the court to adopt a more lenient approach on this detainee.

“I plead with this honourable court that he be released from detention forthwith because of his peculiar health circumstances.

“In fact, his arrest and detention are unlawful because they were done junior officers.

“He can only be arrested by Major General (Lineo) Poopa, Major General (Khoantle) Motšomotšo or Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli because they are his superiors.

“Now he was arrested by Captain (Tefo) Hashatsi and Second Lieutenant Phaila, who are very junior to him.

“I pray that he be released forthwith or be placed under open arrest because the Maximum Security Prison is not a conducive place for his health,” he said.

However, Advocate Mafefooane Moshoeshoe said only the Unit Commander could decide whether or not to release a detainee.

Justice Moiloa then ordered the two opposing sides to argue the case on Monday next week, and further ordered the brigadier to be allowed to meet his lawyers during the detention.

The judge also said the lawyers’ consultations should be done “within the eye-view of the respondents’ officers, but without the earshot of the respondents’ officers.”

The respondents include the LDF Commander and the Director of Military Intelligence.

The judge also ordered that Brigadier Mareka be allowed to see a doctor of his choice.

Meanwhile, Lance Corporal Motaung Lipholo and Private Molefi Kapoko were also brought to court by heavily armed soldiers on Tuesday.

The two also told Justice Moiloa that they felt pain in their hands, feet and chest as a result of torture by their colleagues during their detention.

The judge then made a similar order that they should be allowed to see their close relatives, lawyers and doctors but while still in detention.

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