Kamoli detention a violation of human rights: TRC

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE continued detention of former army commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and other soldiers is a gross violation of human rights as they are indirectly serving sentences without being convicted by the courts, the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) has said.

Lt-Gen Kamoli retired on 1 December 2016 and was only arrested in October 2017, just a few months after the advent of the Thomas Thabane-led four party regime in June 2017.

He has been charged with one count of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder.

He has been languishing in custody at the Maximum Security Prison since his arrest and his bid for release on bail was denied by High Court judge, Justice Teboho Moiloa in November 2017.

Yesterday, the TRC’s Human Rights Officer Lepeli Moeketsi said that while his organisation welcomed the steps the government had taken to implement the SADC recommendations aimed at achieving political stability, it was however, concerned that the prolonged incarceration of Lt-Gen Kamoli and other suspects amounted to a violation of their rights.

SADC appointed a 10-member commission of inquiry headed by retired Botswana judge Mphaphi Phumaphi to investigate the assassination of Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015.

The commission conducted its investigations from 31 August and 23 October 2015. It subsequently recommended that the-then government should investigate the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao and prosecute those found to be responsible. Some soldiers were subsequently arrested in connection with Lt-Gen Mahao’s murder and they remain in detention.

Adv Moeketsi therefore urged the government to speed up the prosecution processes to ensure all suspects have their cases speedily tried.

“While the TRC highly welcomes these developments, the TRC raised a concern to the African Commission over a prolonged pre-trial detention of the suspected and called upon the government to speed up prosecution processes against the accused,” Adv Moeketsi said at a press conference in Maseru yesterday.

His sentiments were echoed by the TRC Director, Tsikoane Peshoane who said the prolonged detention of Lt-Gen Kamoli and other suspects violated their rights.

Mr Peshoane said there was a huge backlog of at least 4000 cases awaiting trial and this was a clear indication that the rights of thousands of people were being violated.

“The backlog includes the cases of Kamoli and other soldiers and given the magnitude of their cases, there is no valid reason why they have not been put to trial in the courts of law,” Mr Peshoane said.

He said the prolonged pretrial detentions and the fact that the Court of Appeal has not been sitting for almost a year due to the ongoing legal battles over who should lead it was an indication that there were serious problems within the judiciary.

“The serious problems within the judiciary cannot be solved by the judiciary itself. There is a need for key stakeholders to dialogue and find a lasting solution to our sick judiciary,” Mr Peshoane said, adding that they were negotiating with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and SADC to discuss the judicial crisis with the government.

Lt-Gen Kamoli’s murder charge stems from the 30 August 2014 killing of Police Sub-Inspector, Mokheseng Ramahloko.

Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was shot and killed by soldiers during the attempted coup of August 2014 at the Police Headquarters in Maseru. The soldiers who allegedly acted on the instructions of the then army commander, Lt-Gen Kamoli, also raided several other police stations in Maseru and seized an assortment of weapons.

The 14 attempted murder charges stem from the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane, one ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane, and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

 

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