‘LDF framed and tortured me’

“It all began on June 14 2007. The LDF Commander had called a meeting strictly attended by officers whose agenda was unknown until it started. It is the norm for the commander to announce his meeting’s agenda on the spot.
In the meeting the commander addressed the issue of weaponry allegedly stolen from soldiers guarding ministers’ homes and a host of other issues.
Some of my colleagues and I had, prior to the meeting, been assigned to investigate how it had come to be that soldiers had been disarmed while on duty. We had been ordered to ascertain whether guards at ministers’ houses executed their duties accordingly.
The meeting was then opened for questions and comments by those in attendance. I happened to be one of the people who raised a few issues as I had been assigned to investigate.
I said it seemed that the soldiers were not doing their job well because they reported for work drunk and therefore slept on duty.
I added that the level of unprofessional conduct displayed by the soldiers was due to the lack of proper military training coupled with the lack of befitting winter military apparel which compelled the soldiers to hide from the cold indoors. 
That was my genuine observation. But unfortunately it angered some of the most senior officers.
Therefore I decided to refrain from giving my observations to my seniors. However, other officers went ahead and related their own findings.
The following day (June 15, 2007) I reported for duty at the Ratjomose Barracks as usual.
I was summoned to the Military Police Offices.
In the office were Colonel Pasane and one Kamoli who is the head of the Military Intelligence.
They both demanded to know why I had felt the need to comment on the statements made by the commander in the meeting the previous day.
They told me that I had infuriated him but this was something that I was not aware of.
I said I was just trying to explain why the job was not being done. I apologised for my purported “attitude”.
I asked them to ask for forgiveness for me from the Commander. I was ordered to call Captain Ramotsó, my co-accused in the treason charges.
It was somewhat surprising though, that only the two of us had been picked from the rest of the officers who commented in the meeting.
On the morning of Sunday, June 17 2007, I was ordered to prepare a battalion and get it ready for roadblock duty later that evening.
Due to the reigning political climate at the time most senior officers had been assigned different duties.
At 4 pm of the same day the battalion left Makoanyane Barracks for Ratjomose with Lance Corporal Khoatsane.
I told him that their dinner had already been prepared.
Let me clarify that when given orders I was told to divide the battalion into two groups composed of men and women. Women would carry out searches on women while men would deal with men.
Before that fateful Sunday I had been in charge of two battalions: One 3 and Special Force.
But we were separated just three days earlier from the commandos. This left me in charge of a single battalion.
Wearing my civillian attire, I followed Khoatsane and the battalion to officially hand them over to other officers who had been seconded from other departments.
I went to the office from which I received the orders and found one Sergeant Moholoholo. I informed him that my battalion had arrived and that they were ready to eat.
Then I went to the armoury storage to inspect the weaponry my troops would be using that night. I asked Khoatsane why the soldiers had not been provided with weapons. I later discovered that the storage was locked.
The search for the door-keeper began. It was first said that he had gone home but later some people said he had gone to eat. 
After what seemed like forever he arrived and unlocked the door to the storage and we gained access to the weapons.
His absence had delayed us as the storage was not unlocked on time. The weapons were then taken from the storage into the awaiting bus. The bus would deploy all groups within the battalion at the respective posts they were allocated.
Despite the arms and car being there, they were bound to reach their respective posts late because of the delay in opening the armoury.
It should be noted this is where my woes and all the accusations began.
Just before they left, Moholoholo came and said he was reducing the number of women in the battalion. Initially I had 14 and that number was reduced by half.
He requested me to take the other seven back to Makoanyane Barracks with me and I did not object.
Mokhantsó said he left the Ratjomose Barracks with the female soldiers in the military Defender he was driving. He headed for Makoanyane where he would change into his military apparel and report for duty at 9pm.
As soon as I had left the compound I received a call on my mobile phone from Brigadier Mahau. He was giving me more orders to carry out.
Due to the reigning confusion at the time, I assumed he was not aware that he was piling orders on me. I tried to communicate this with my colleagues but could not find any of them.
I dropped the women off at their dormitories at Makoanyane and headed home (same compound) to get ready for work that night.
I later drove out of Makoanyane and went Ratjomose. As I was passing Ha-Motsoéneng I received yet another call on my mobile phone. It was Lt Colonel Pasane informing me that my battalion had been attacked and disarmed at Lakeside.
I decided to go straight to Lakeside. Another call came through as I passed by Lekhaloaneng. It was Lt Colonel Mphahama demanding to know where I was and he also told me a similar story.
 I must emphasise that I was surprised that they were reporting to me because as an individual I could not rescue the soldiers alone. There ought to have been troops on standby to come to the rescue.
I went to Lakeside anyway. But I never reached the place because I was attacked and disarmed when I got to Lower Thamae, slightly after I had passed Mangopeng Restaurant.
They stopped and disarmed me but let me go without hurting me.
I headed to Lakeside and they overtook me.
It was then that I diverted my route to avoid further confrontation.
“When I reached Lakeside military colleagues were already there. There were however no soldiers in sight. I explained to them what happened. The two officers who called to inform me about the attack on the battalion also came and I told them what had happened.
We drove back to the place where I was attacked and inspected the area. The officers were not happy and indicated their displeasure by going back into their cars and driving off. They were disappointed with me.
I went back to Lakeside. The standby Commandoes found me there and they mounted a roadblock for a while.
Colonel Pasane asked me to go and explain what happened to the Military Police who were now at Lakeside.
There was a mysterious Toyota Tazz there.
“Pasane gave orders that I should be apprehended on the spot.
“I was handcuffed by Second Lieutenant Raletséla and Warrant Officer Mofolo of the military police.
Lt Colonel Nkeli hit the handcuffs with his gun and complained that the boys were taking long to arrest me.
“I was then pushed into the mysterious Tazz. I sat in the middle while two men sat on either side.
The car took off in the Ratjomose direction. When it got to the compound, the driver headed  for the Military Police offices.
With my hands still bound to my back with handcuffs, I was ordered to sit down on a chair after which the interrogation began.
The questions I was being asked revolved around my association with a political party called the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
It was put to me that I had strong relations with the ABC, that I had been spotted with members of the party when they went to Welkom and that it was common knowledge that I was a member of the political party.
I denied having any link to the party. I asked them to look at my passport to ascertain if I had gone to Welkom.
They refused and plainly put it to me that I just managed to cross the border without using my passport.
To this day it has not been checked.
Instead I was told that they could produce a credible witness to testify that I was indeed an ABC member.
It was one Private Ratsíu, who was then working in the Military Band.
I was asked if I knew him and I said yes.
I knew his family home and his siblings. He was asked what his political party of choice was and he said ABC. He said he regularly attended its rallies.
Ratsiu testified that after every ABC rally members normally met and held meetings at Lakeside Hotel.
He said he had seen me attending one such meeting.
He said he had seen me shaking hands with another soldier who was also a member of the ABC.
Ratsíu said he knew me as the deputy head of security for the ABC national executive committee.
He said the head of security was one Kotsokoane.
After that he was told to go.
I was not allowed to question Ratsíu. I was bluntly told that I was under arrest therefore had no right to ask anybody about anything.
I was then ordered to get off the chair and lie on my stomach on the floor. I struggled to get off the chair since my hands were still handcuffed behind my back.
Eventually I managed to do as I was told. My feet were then pulled back to my waist and tied to my handcuffed hands.
An electric cord was plugged to the wall and brought in contact with the chain tying my hands and feet together.
A black rubber tube was placed close to my face. They would suffocate me with it by tightly blocking my mouth and nose.
They would suffocate me at intervals only stopping when I was totally out of breath. They would then pour cold water over me.
Then every time after pouring water on me they would torture me with the electric cord again.
Of all the soldiers carrying out the torture on me, I can point out second Lt Mochesane, Second Lt Monyeke, Sergeant Mahlala, Warrant Officer Mokete and Lance Corporal Ramoepana.
The torture went on for what seemed like forever. I had lost all strength and my feet were swollen. I would cry like a child and call out for my mother whenever they inflicted pain on me.
As I called out to my mother at one point, Sergeant Mahlala said, “Die you devil!”
As the torture continued they told me that I had spoilt the Commander’s meeting by talking too much.
They also pulled at my genitals, all the while promising me that I could never in my life have sex because “it could never again get up”.
There came a point when I was numb and drifting in and out of consciousness. Eventually my feet were set free.
My clothes were soaked in water and blood was oozing from my mouth, nostrils and wrists.
Then I was taken to another room where I found Captain Ramotso also tied to a chair.
Later Raletséla and Mofolo took me from that room and bundled me into the very same Toyota Tazz.

I was driven to Military Police detention cells at Makoanyane. The cell I was allocated had just a toilet and a bed with no mattress or blankets.
Raletséla then ordered Mofolo to once again bind my feet to my hand with a steel chain after I was told to lie on my stomach on the bed in the cell.
I was in and out of consciousness but I can still recall they had an argument as they could not agree on whether I should be tied up that way again.
But they did it anyway.
For the next three days I was held in that cell, bound like an animal. The winter cold was grinding, what with my wet clothes.
More often than not I was unconscious.
I was not given any food or water.
 I would urinate on myself all the time. They only came once a day to check on me.
On the third day my hands were swollen and had become black. I was told that I should get ready to see a doctor at the Makoanyane Military Hospital.
The swelling was so bad that unfastening the handcuffs became a mission. The doctor recommended hospital admission as I was in a bad condition.
After a day in admission the swelling on the left hand had abated but the right hand remained swollen.
The doctor said blood had clotted on the right hand and that there was no circulation.
He said I had to be operated on and asked if there was anybody who could sign consent forms for the operation to go ahead.
I called for my children who came to the hospital and saw me for the first time since that fateful Sunday.
The operation was carried out and the swelling went down as the clotting had been cleared.
Two weeks later me and some of the people I was charged with, some of whom I did not know were arrested by the police.
While in detention some members of the police force offered to smuggle us into South Africa. They said they were afraid that the military would hurt us.
But I turned down the offer because running away would have been tantamount to admission of guilt and I was not going to do that.
I was suspected of having strong links with the ABC.
But the soldiers I was charged with have not been accused of political association. This must have been a witch-hunt.
I believe the Military Intelligence could have traced my relations with ABC to ascertain my involvement instead of doing this to me. 
The worst part is that on the charge sheet I was not accused of any purported link to politics.
The force charged me for delaying to deploy my battalion.
They also charged me with unbecoming behaviour: for a senior officer to deploy female soldiers on mission without weapons.
I was demoted from the rank of Major to that of Captain.
I was charged with high treason and that charge still hangs on my head. I appeal to whoever has the power to see to it that this case is dealt with to do something about it.
I have even ordered my lawyer to write letters to the DPPS, requesting that the case continues or be struck off the roll.
First they attempted to have my salary cut in half. But I won the case against the military.
Then when the likes of Mashai (Makotoko Lerotholi) were associated with the 22 April attacks at the State House, we were ordered to vacate the military houses because we were deemed a threat to national security,” Mokhantsó said.

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