Soldiers face suspension

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Mohalenyane Phakela

LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Mojalefa Letsoela, has ordered eleven soldiers to “show cause” why they should not be suspended from the army.

This after the 11 teamed up with five others to sue Lt-Gen Letsoela for a staggering M32 million for their alleged 2014 torture and unlawful arrests.

They were allegedly subjected to the torture and degrading treatment by their army colleagues during and after the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Lt-Gen Letsoela is only being sued in his capacity as army commander for the atrocities which were allegedly committed by soldiers then under the command of former LDF chief, Tlali Kamoli.

The 16 plaintiffs are Tumelo Maja, Ngoliso Majara, Khorai Ralitlemo, Motšoene Motšoene, Thabiso Motsieloa, Thabang Lepota, Peter Mokhothu, Selebalo Sejake, Lintle Rantuba, Lehlohonolo Bolofo, Ntai Mosaku, Litšitso Mahase, Mokhapi Kelane, Mojalefa Mosakeng, Ntabejane Kanono and Lehloa Ramotšo.

However, only 11 of the applicants have been slapped with “show cause” letters because they are still serving in the army while another two distanced themselves from the lawsuit.

LDF public affairs officer, Captain Sakeng Lekola, last night confirmed that only 11 of the 16 who have been presented with letters asking them to show cause why they should not be suspended to facilitate an inquiry into their alleged mutiny in connection with their lawsuit.

“There were 16 complainants but three of them are no longer serving members of the LDF as they have either retired or resigned,” Capt Lekola said.

“The other two approached the office of the commander to clear their names saying they had nothing to do with the litigation and do not know why their names were included in the application. Therefore, there are 11 soldiers who were given ‘show cause’ letters today (yesterday) and they are expected to respond within seven days.

“The commander has established a board of inquiry to investigate their case. Therefore, they were given ‘show cause’ letters to ensure the inquiry runs smoothly,” Capt Lekola added.

In his “show cause” letters to each of the 11 soldiers, Lt-Gen Letsoela states that he has established a Board of Inquiry “to inquire into circumstances surrounding the joint action by yourself and 15 others in the Tumelo Maja V Commander LDF and Another whereby there is a claim for damages pertaining to alleged incidents of torture and unlawful arrest”.

In his letters, Lt-Gen Letsoela says the meeting by the soldiers to discuss their lawsuit amounted to a mutiny.

“Now therefore you are hereby required to show cause, if any, why you may not be suspended from service pending finalisation of the inquiry. Be informed that the envisaged suspension is intended to be on an allowance equivalent to your salary.

“Take note that you are expected to furnish your written response within seven working days of your receipt of this letter, failing which the commander of LDF will have no option but to effect your envisaged suspension,” Lt-Gen Letsoela states in reference to the inquiry he has established to probe the soldiers.

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