Court orders soldier’s release 



High Court judge Justice Sakoane Sakoane
High Court judge Justice Sakoane Sakoane

Tefo Tefo

High Court acting judge Justice Sakoane Sakoane on Monday ordered the immediate release of Sergeant Lebohang Ramoholi from Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) custody at Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

Sergeant Ramoholi was arrested by members of the LDF on Tuesday last week at Makoanyane Barracks on suspicion of being part of a plot to topple the LDF command.

His wife, ‘Marorisang  Ramoholi on Friday last week filed an application before the High Court seeking an order directing the immediate release of her husband from custody.

Ms Ramoholi had also asked for an order directing the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force and Director of Military Intelligence to allow Sergeant Ramoholi access to medical examination and treatment, as well as access to legal representation.

In his ruling,  Justice Sakoane said: “The First and Second respondents are ordered to release, forthwith, No 9467 Sergeant Lebohang Ramoholi, from detention.

“The other prayers in the notice of motion are deferred for argument.”

The deferred prayers involve the question of whether or not Sergeant Ramoholi’s arrest was lawful.

Sergeant Ramoholi was the first among approximately 36 soldiers to be released from LDF detention since the wave of arrests of army personnel started in March this year.

Meanwhile, in support of her case, Ms Ramoholi wrote an affidavit detailing how she learnt of her husband’s arrest.

“On 16 June 2015, my husband left home early in the morning for duty at Makoanyane Barracks.

“At around 9am, he called to tell me that he was going to Makoanyane (Military) Hospital as he had been having a serious back pain.

“About an hour later, I called him to check on him but his phone was off.

“I tried to call him several times during the day but his phone was still off.

“At around 3pm, a certain Sekonyala Tšotetsi arrived at my house and told me he had been with my husband at Makoanyane Barracks when they were suddenly surrounded by a group of men wearing ski-masks.

“Those men then started beating my husband, covered his face with a black cloth and pushed him into their vehicle which was parked nearby.

“They then sped off in that vehicle,” Ms Ramoholi wrote in the affidavit.

She added her husband never returned home that day, prompting her to visit Makoanyane Barracks the following morning to inquire about his whereabouts.

“I met some army officers on guard at the gate, who told me that my husband had been taken to Setibing (Military Base) by members of the Military Intelligence (MI) and that I would not be allowed to either see him or get an explanation from the (MI).

“They told me that no one within the LDF would explain to me the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of my husband as this was a secret military operation.

“When I asked when I should expect my husband back home they told me that maybe soon or maybe never,” she stated.

Ms Ramoholi further wrote in the affidavit that the officers allowed her to take her husband’s vehicle which was still parked at the barracks, although she failed to drive it away as it could not start.

She further charged: “I fail to understand why my husband was being detained by the LDF.

“The fact that the LDF has denied me an opportunity to meet with my husband and/or to give me an explanation about his detention leads me to a reasonable conclusion that his detention is both sinister and unlawful.

“I have learnt that there are other soldiers who are being detained and tortured by members of the Military Intelligence.

“In the circumstances, I reasonably suspect that my husband is also being detained and tortured by the Military Intelligence officers,” she noted in the affidavit.

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