Police to charge soldiers with attempted murder
THE Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has opened an attempted murder case against members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) following last week’s shootout in Khubetsoana.
The gun battle was between LMPS and LDF members, but neither party is taking responsibility for the skirmish which took place near Acting Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka’s home on Tuesday night.
Mr Mphaka has since claimed he was the target of the assault, while the LDF insists LMPS members had started the fight by attacking one of their own, who is a bodyguard of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
However, police spokesperson Lebona Mohloboli this week said investigations into the shootout were at an advanced stage, adding charges to be preferred against the suspected perpetrators included attempted murder.
Senior Inspector Mohloboli said: “Police investigations have linked a Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Toyota Hilux 4×4 vehicle to the attack, which took place at (Acting) Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka’s home on Tuesday last week.
“Lesotho Defence Force members were using the vehicle when they attacked the police officers who were guarding Mr Mphaka’s residence in Khubetsoana.
“The soldiers were seen by the police officers coming from the Toyota Hilux vehicle, which had no number plates. However, our investigations have indicated that LDF members were driving the car on the night in question. The LDF members removed the vehicle from the place of shooting and contaminated the crime scene, but we managed to trace the vehicle to AVIS, who are the suppliers of all government vehicles.”
Mr Mohloboli said it was after inspecting the vehicle that the police found out it had been allocated to the Local Government ministry, which is headed by Mr Metsing.
“The car’s registration number, Y1845, clearly confirmed that the vehicle was allocated to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, and we are investigating how it ended up with the army.
“I would also want the nation to know that the police have opened a case of attempted murder against the army regarding the shootout.
“We understand criminal cases involving LDF members are always pending because the soldiers don’t cooperate with the police, but we would want to assure the nation that the LMPS will continue to do their job, and put suspects before the courts of law, no-matter who they might be.”
The Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Transport Officer, Ncheme Tšita, on Tuesday confirmed to the Lesotho Times that the vehicle in question was allocated to his ministry.
“This office allocated the vehicle you are talking about and two others, to the Minister of Local Government’s bodyguards, and everybody knows that Ntate Metsing is guarded by the army,” Mr Tšita said.
“We don’t monitor where the vehicles go, and we are also not aware who was driving Y1845 on the day of the shooting.
“When it is knock-off time, the soldiers use these vehicles to go to their respective homes and we don’t monitor their movements. My office will only be informed when the vehicles develop mechanical problems.
“In this particular case, the two LDF members who supervise Mr Metsing’s bodyguards approached my office on Wednesday morning last week, informing me that the vehicle had been shot by the police in Khubetsoana.
“The soldiers told me that they had already removed the vehicle from the crime scene and taken it to Mr Metsing’s residence in Maseru West.
“I drove to Ntate Metsing’s house to see the condition of the vehicle and immediately informed AVIS about the damage. AVIS, in turn, took the car from Maseru West to their warehouse for repairs. On the other hand, for administration purposes, I asked the two LDF members to bring me a written report on how the car was shot, a police report, and fill in an insurance form. However, my office has not yet received any of those reports.”