THE family of senior High Court judge, Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, say they have filed a civil lawsuit against the police for the torture of their 22-year old son Teboho allegedly suffered while in custody last week.
Justice Mahase’s husband – Thabiso Mahase – refused to divulge to journalists yesterday the amount of money they were claiming as compensation in the lawsuit.
The Lesotho Times could also not verify whether the case had been filed in the courts of law as of last night.
Mr Mahase and Teboho were arrested on Wednesday last week and detained at the Mafeteng Police Station until last Friday.
They were detained in connection with the theft of M3 million worth of pensioners’ allowances at a pay-point in Mafeteng earlier this year.
Pensioners’ allowances are usually distributed from Maseru to various pay-points countrywide under Lesotho Defence Force guard.
No arrests had been made in the case until last Wednesday when the Mahases were taken in for questioning as prime suspects in the matter.
Addressing the media yesterday, Mr Mahase claimed the family had sued the police for malicious arrest and torture while in custody. Other respondents in the case, he said, were Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli, Police and Public Safety Minister ‘Mampho Mokhele and the attorney-general.
“On Wednesday last week, when I arrived home from Bloemfontein, I received a message that police were looking for my son Teboho,” he said.
“The police officer had left his name and contact details at my house. I met my son and asked if he was aware of the reasons the police were looking for him. He didn’t know.
“I called the police officer, and we went to see him at the Police Headquarters. We were then told that it was a Mafeteng police case. We were driven to Mafeteng and upon arrival were locked up after Teboho had been interrogated. Teboho’s feet were shackled.”
Mr Mahase also claimed that Teboho, who did not attend yesterday’s press briefing, was taken out of his cell at around 8pm and only returned the following morning when Justice Mahase and other family members visited them.
“Teboho told me his head was covered with something he didn’t know, while the police were pouring water on his head. All the while, he was also being shocked with electricity. While being tortured, he was being instructed to say that the M3 million was in my possession,” Mr Mahase said.
Teboho, he said, was taken to a doctor whose medical report “confirmed that he was tortured”.
“Even blood samples taken for testing confirmed that he was tortured while in police custody,” said Mr Mahase, adding that he was never tortured or interrogated while in police custody.
Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, said he was going to inquire on the matter and later his phone rang unanswered when contacted yesterday.