MASERU –– The police on Sunday stormed the home of an opposition legislator Molobeli Soulo allegedly looking for arms, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
Soulo is a Member of Parliament (MP) and national executive chairman of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
The MP was however not at home during the raid. He was in Mohale’s Hoek on party business.
Soulo’s wife, ‘Masebopeho Soulo, told the Lesotho Times on Monday that five police officers stormed their residence at 6am on Sunday.
She said the police were accompanied by the village chief, Chief Petje.
“They told me that they had come to search my house for illegal guns. There were five of them accompanied by Chief Petje,” ‘Masebopeho said.
She said the police rummaged through her house “turning every room upside down” but left empty-handed as no illegal guns were found.
‘Masebopeho said she was annoyed and felt that her privacy had been violated “because we are a law-abiding family”.
“I lashed out at the police for ransacking my house and invading my family’s privacy. How long should I put up with being embarrassed in front of my neighbours?
“How many times should my children be tormented by these regular yet unwarranted searches?” Masebopeho said.
The police raid at Soulo’s house is the second this year. Earlier this year the police also stormed the ABC’s politician’s house looking for illegal weapons.
No arms were found during the raid.
‘Masebopeho said she could not understand why Chief Petje had agreed to accompany the police to humiliate her family while leaving “criminals to roam the streets”.
“I also gave the chief a piece of my mind. Where did he get the audacity to bring cops to search a dignified home when he has failed to help them arrest criminals who are making people’s lives a misery?” ‘Masebopeho said.
She said it was clear that her family was being victimised by the police because of their support for the ABC.
Soulo condemned the raid at his house as politically motivated.
He said it was still unclear to him why he was “being targeted” as he was not a threat to the government.
He said he was a law-abiding citizen who had never been convicted of any crime.
“I am a law-abiding citizen who does everything by the book. I am also a Member of Parliament with no criminal record to my name.
“They (the police) have searched my house before and came up with nothing. This is victimisation. Period!” he said.
Soulo said the two guns that he owned were legal adding that he never used them to threaten or intimidate people “because I know all laws legal gun owners have to adhere to”.
“I have two guns which are legal. They serve the purpose of protecting my family and property, nothing more,” Soulo said.
“(Before) I left the LCD (ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy) I was never subjected to any kind of violation. However, ever since I joined ABC, they have gone all out to make my life miserable.
“If they think I will desert ABC, they are totally misguided. I will not leave ABC, not in this lifetime,” Soulo said.
Police spokesman Inspector Pheello Mphana confirmed the incident.
Mpana said the police officers were sent to Soulo’s house following a tip-off.
“I can confirm that the police were sent to search the home of Molobeli Soulo for illegal firearms following a tip-off from a member of the public.
“The police were bound by duty to carry out the search at the home in case anything came up,” Mphana said.
He said the police did not have a search warrant but they could still search the place because “they had a senior officer amongst them, an inspector”.
“The law provides for police to search suspects without warrants as long there is a senior officer among them, like an inspector,” Mphana said.
Mphana however admitted that the search drew a blank after they failed to find the purported weapons.
Mphana said it was procedure for the police to be accompanied by the chief when they search a suspect’s home.
“Police report to the village chief before they search a suspect’s home. It was not strange that in Soulo’s case the chief accompanied the police. In urgent cases, police carry out a search and only inform the chief afterwards,” Mphana said.
He also denied that the raid was political.
“We are not driven by politics when we do our work. But we should also not ignore the fact that the person who provided the tip-off could have had a political motive,” Mphana said.
Government spokesman Mothetjoa Metsing said he was not aware of the raid but rejected charges that the ruling party had a hand in the police operation.
“The LCD-led administration had nothing to do with it; it is misleading to assume we were involved in the whole saga.
“These people (ABC) should just accept that the police were bound by duty to search the place,” Metsing said.
“The manner in which the ABC conducts itself and the things the party’s leadership say from time to time carry enough weight to attract the attention of the police.”