MASERU — Two All Basotho Convention (ABC) supporters believed to be close to party leader Tom Thabane were last Friday arrested in connection with last month’s attempt on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s life.
Dan Masia and Katiso Phasumane were picked up at different locations by officers from the police’s Special Support Unit (SSU) who suspected them to have been involved in the attack at the State House.
Masia said six armed officers from the SSU arrived at his house in Mohalalitoe at 6:30 am saying they were searching for illegal firearms.
They were wearing civilian clothes, Masia said.
“I let them go ahead with the search despite the fact that they did not have a search warrant. They were also not aggressive,” Masia said.
He said when they failed to find the firearms the officers took him to their station in Ha-Mabote saying they wanted to interrogate him further. Masia said just before they arrived at Ha-Mabote where the questioning was going to be conducted he told the officers that “it is only a matter of time before what you do to people comes to an end”.
He said the officers developed a special interest in that assertion and their initial interrogation centred on the statement.
“They wanted to know where I was on April 18, the day when most ABC members were getting ready to attend the ANC rally in Johannesburg.”
“I told them that I had visitors who included Thabane. They demanded to know the agenda of the meeting. I told them that it was a meeting between friends.”
He said one of the interrogators said he had evidence that some time ago Masai had said that he would be “going to Johannesburg and upon his return the boys would come in.”
“They asked about the coincidence between the statement and the attack on the State House and barracks.”
He said he was surprised by the insinuation.
They also asked him how he had personally felt when he learnt of the Prime-Minister’s attack and he said he was “shocked like all the other people”.
One of the interrogators later said it seemed that Masia was not ready to tell the truth and that he should be given a break.
Phasumane who is the ABC representative in the Independent Electoral Commission’s consultative committee on logistics said six heavily armed SSU officers arrived at his home in Maseru East at 4:45 am on Friday.
“They said they were searching for illegal arms in the area,” Phasumane said.
They had a search warrant.
They searched the house and his car before taking him to the station in Ha-Mabote.
The rest of the questions asked, were the same as those asked Masia. When asked where he was on April 18 Phasumane said he did not keep a diary.
“They gave me a calendar to help me recall.”
“I told the officers that they were not doing me a favour by telling me that they had arrested me on the basis of rumours. I told them that the whole thing had been fabricated for political reasons.”
“A woman who was part of the interrogating officers started shouting at me as though I were her son. She had to be restrained by other officers,” said Phasumane.
Phasumane said he was released together with Masia around 11 am the same day.
“The officers said they were only following orders to arrest us,” Phasumane said.
Station Commander of the SSU in Maseru Mojalefa Mpeli told the Lesotho Times that the two had been arrested because their names kept coming up during the interrogation of other suspects connected to the attack on the State House.
He said the police officers were not targeting Phasumane and Masia because of their affiliation to the ABC.
He said their arrest was part of a routine exercise they do whenever they get tip-offs on potential threats to national security.
“We have an obligation to ensure that the security and stability of the country are not threatened by people who have illegal firearms,” Mpeli said.