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Man pleads trauma after police torture

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — He was stripped and handcuffed.

He was suffocated with latex gloves and strangled with bare hands.

Then, when that failed to get him “talking” a spade was used to hit his backside.

All the while his legs were bound in chains.

That’s the gruesome ordeal that Maputi Ramoholi, a 65-year-old retired police officer, claims to have suffered at the hands of the Mokhotlong police on August 4.

He says police were torturing him because his son had been involved in armed robbery in Maseru on August 2.

Ramoholi claims the torture lasted for a day and left him traumatised.

He says his problems started on August 2 when his son Tsebo sought refuge at his home in Mokhotlong after being allegedly getting involved in an armed robbery.

Tsebo was on the police’s list of suspects for a robbery that had happened in Lithoteng in Maseru.

Ramoholi says he was not aware that Tsebo was being pursued by the police until one of his daughters called him.

“Tsebo gave me M3 000 saying it belonged to him and I should give it to his lawyer. He also gave me M242 saying he stole it from a Chinese businessman in Lithoteng,” he recalls.

Upon hearing that Tsebo was on the police’s “wanted list” Ramoholi says he immediately confronted his son and took him to the Mokhotlong police.

He says he thought the matter had been settled until the police raided his house on August 4 claiming that they were looking for a gun that Tsebo had allegedly used in the robbery in Maseru. 

When the search was over police bundled Ramoholi and his other two sons Tsebang and Ts’episo into a police van, he claims.

They were taken to the police station where Ramoholi’s ordeal allegedly started.

Ramoholi says he was tortured in the presence of Senior Inspector Mokonyana and Inspector Motsokotsi “who did nothing to protect me”.

He alleges that an officer who identified himself as Inspector Klaas was the one hitting him with a spade.

In the meantime, he says, another officer known as Inspector Tsietsi was “strangling me and accusing me of trying to destroy their case against Tsebo”. He claims that at one time one of his interrogators hit him with the butt of a gun on the ribs. He says he spent the night in the cells but was not charged.

The following day the police released his son Tsebang without charge.

“I sent Tsebang to the DA (District Administrator)’s office asking him to intervene as I had a feeling that my life was at a risk,” he says.

Ramoholi says after the DA’s intervention the police released him but instead of allowing him to go home they bundled him into a van and took him to Maseru Central Police station where he spent another night in a cell.

He further claims that on August 6 he was taken to Lithoteng police where “the surprised officers told me that they did not want me but my son”.

“I told the Lithoteng police that the Mokhotlong police wanted a gun from me.  The Lithoteng police telephoned Mokhotlong and to my surprise they were told that I had stolen property in my possession.”

He says he asked why he was being charged in Maseru and not in Mokhotlong where he allegedly received the stolen property.

“At that moment the Lithoteng police released me.”

He got a police medical form and went to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital where his injuries were treated.

He was discharged on the same day.

Ramoholi says he went to the police headquarters to ask the deputy commissioner of police, Kizito Mhlakaza, to save him from the Mokhotlong police.

Mhlakaza could not be reached for comment.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said he had not received a report about Ramoholi’s case.

“I have not been informed about the matter. If it is in the hands of Ntate Mhlakaza, I can only know of it if he decides to share it with me,” he said.

Ramoholi said he is planning to sue the police for torture and malicious arrest.

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