More ‘mutiny’ soldiers released

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Billy Ntaote

FOUR members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) were on Tuesday released from the Maseru Central Maximum Security Prisons reportedly for “good behaviour”.

The officers, namely, Corporal Chele, Letsilane, Lipoto and Private Pama were released into open arrest (military bail) and given strict movement restrictions by the LDF command.

The four soldiers are part of the 23 mutiny-accused LDF members who were arrested between May and June 2015 and they join seven others who were released from LDF detention centre located at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison and placed under open arrest.

After the latest development, Brigadier Motoa, Colonel Stemere, Col Kolisang, Captain Makhetha, Sergeant Lekhabunyane, Sgt Semakale, Sgt Mokhobo, Corporal Mokhoro, Cpl Manaka, Cpl Makhooane and Lance Corporal Molefi remain in detention.

The LDF has claimed the alleged mutiny plot against the leadership of retired army commander Lieutenant General Tladi Kamoli was masterminded by former army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao who was shot dead by his colleagues who had come to arrest him for the suspected mutiny in Mokema on 25 June 2015.

The 23 accused mutineers are currently awaiting a decision of the Court Martial Appeal Court on their challenge of the legality of their trial by the Court Martial.

On the other hand, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of inquiry into the incidents surrounding the death of Lt Gen Mahao said that the LDF’s case against the alleged mutineers was highly suspect and recommended that they be granted amnesty by the government.

However, the charges have not been dropped and in addition, there is an Amnesty Bill 2016 currently before the National Assembly that proposes, among other things, that the mutiny suspects be granted amnesty and be retired from the LDF.

The Lesotho Times has learned that the four mutiny suspects were released for their alleged good behaviour and given strict orders not to talk to the media.

They were also instructed not to receive visits by any persons who are not family members and they should not be visited by other soldiers too.

LDF Public Affairs Officer, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi referred all questions to his juniors, stating that he was in the highlands and his mobile phone battery was running low and the phone would switch off any time.

Subsequent attempts to get comment from one Lieutenant Mothibi at the Public Affairs office were also futile as he promised to give details about the release of the soldiers at a later period.

Additional attempts to get a comment from the Minister of Defence and National Security, Tseliso Mokhosi were also futile as he sent this reporter the message “sorry, I can’t talk now”.

However, Mokhosi and Brig Ntoi only told the state broadcaster the soldiers were released into open arrest for their good behaviour.

 

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