Litjobo claims police torture
ALLIANCE of Democrats (AD) Youth League president, Thuso Litjobo has accused the police of torture after he was arrested along with his bodyguard, Thato Makara on Sunday on allegations of murder.
Mr Litjobo (34) and Mr Makara (38) have since appeared before the Magistrate’s Court to face a murder charge for allegedly shooting to death AD member, Thabiso Moqolo on 2 April at a party gathering to elect a candidate to contest elections in the Koro-Koro constituency.
The duo is accused of using a 7.65 pistol to shoot and kill Mr Moqolo at Ha-Tlebere in Mazenod during a conflict that erupted while the AD was in the process of electing a party candidate for the 3 June elections in the Koro-Koro constituency.
The duo were remanded in custody after Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi told them they could only apply for bail before the High Court.
The Lesotho Times learnt that before his arrest on Sunday, Mr Litjobo received a phone call from one police officer identified only as Sello directing that he should report to Thaba-Tseka police station.
The call came during an AD rally that was addressed by party leader, Monyane Moleleki.
Mr Litjobo went to the police station in the company of AD youth supporters and met with the district commander of Thaba-Tseka police, Senior Superintendent Tsietsi Selimo outside the station where he explained why he had presented himself.
However, Senior Superintendent Selimo said he was unaware of the phone call or the need for Mr Litjobo to hand himself over and he told Mr Litjobo that he was free to leave.
However, a 4×4 vehicle with South African GP registration numbers, reportedly arrived from Maseru and its occupants claimed they had come to arrest Mr Litjobo who had already left the police station with the permission of the district commanders.
Mr Litjobo subsequently told this publication on Tuesday that again on Sunday, he received a phone call from a police officer asking him to report to the police station in Mokhotlong to which he replied that he could only report at the police headquarters in Maseru. He said they agreed that he should report at 10:00am together with Mr Makara but the time was later changed to 2:00pm.
“We arrived at police headquarters at 2:20 pm,” Mr Litjobo said, adding, “We found two men in plain clothes with armoured vests at the reception”.
“My lawyer tried to create an amicable conversation and asked the men why we were called to the police. They became aggressive and started to kick and beat us.
“They then handcuffed us and took me and my bodyguard to the car where they threw me into the barky and used a chain to tie me up. The car drove to Ha-Mohale police post where I was locked in cell and my bodyguard was taken to Ha-Matela police.
“At midnight, a police officer arrived in a (Toyota) Quantum vehicle and signed my release forms. I was then released but my bodyguard was not released and was only released on Tuesday,” Mr Litjobo said.
Mr Litjobo alleged that his bodyguard was tortured again after he was taken to Lekhalong Labaroa.
He claimed this was done to coerce him into implication him (Mr Litjobo) as the one who shot the deceased in Koro-Koro.
“They said he must say I took his gun and I shot the deceased dead by mistake. It is very confusing what the police are doing because they heard from many people who explained what transpired during that day but they are ignoring all the information and the suspect. They want to pin this crime on me and I want to believe it’s only politically driven”.
Mr Litjobo alleged that his arrest was instigated by the Commissioner of Police Molahlehi Letsoepa, allegedly because of their political differences.
“This whole issue is pushed by the Commissioner of Police because we don’t follow the same politics,” He said.
“This harassment by the police affects me badly because it interferes with my campaign and what I see is that they want to frustrate me in every way possible.
“This has also put a lot of strain on my family who are always scared of what will happen to me,” he said.
Contacted for comment, the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Spokesperson Superintendent Clifford Molefe said he was not aware of the alleged torture of the duo and said he would ascertain if it had indeed occurred.
Supt Molefe said it was however normal for suspects to be asked to report to a police station and then be arrested at any police station in the country.