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Judgment reserved in soldier’s bid to get findings’ disclosure

by Lesotho Times

MASERU – The High Court has reserved judgment to next week in an application in which an army captain wants the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander to give him the findings and recommendations of an inquiry against him.

The LDF Commander Thuso Motanyane ordered the inquiry last year after Captain Bulane Sechele opposed the government’s plans to introduce a compulsory pension scheme for the army.

Sechele, a lawyer by profession, was accused of inciting fellow soldiers to reject the scheme on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

He has now been court-martialled.

Sechele wants the court to order Motanyane to release the findings and recommendations of that inquiry.

“I have a strong belief that the LDF commander was acting beyond the rule of law and was acting on the rule of man,” Sechele said in his submission on Tuesday.

He said the commander had refused to give him findings and recommendations of that inquiry.

Motanyane’s argument, according to Sechele, was that he could not release the inquiry’s findings because it dealt with the conduct of other officers apart from him.

Sechele said the findings will enable him to assess whether they are in line with the evidence given during the inquiry or not.

“At the moment I can’t do so because I am deprived of that right and it is unfair to deny the findings pertaining to me because it is said they relate to other officers,” he said, adding that he found it upsetting that he is being denied the results of an investigation that centred on him.

“As I was a subject of investigation, I submit that the LDF commander (third respondent) did not properly apply his mind,” he said. 

“What are the interests of the LDF commander against mine when he denies me the findings and recommendations of which I was being investigated?”

He added: “If it is the case that I cannot get the findings and recommendations pertaining to the board which was investigating me, that is not fair and it is unconstitutional,” Sechele said. 

On behalf of the respondents, Advocate Hendrick Viljoen SC submitted that the wording of the regulation entitles the LDF commander to withhold any part of the proceedings of the board from any person without giving reasons.

“Certainly, in refusing access to the board’s deliberations and recommendations, the commander was acting within his rights,” Viljoen said.

He said the decision of the commander is based on “reasonable grounds” and is clearly not arbitrary.

Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo said he will deliver judgment next week on whether Sechele should be given the findings and recommendations of the inquiry or not.

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