Soldiers flee to SA

 

Keiso Mohoboli

Captain Lehloa Ramotšo and Lance Corporal Tankiso Mokhele of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) fled the country for South Africa this week, allegedly after receiving death threats from their superiors.

Captain Ramotšo and Lance Corporal Mokhele told the Lesotho Times from their different “hideouts” in South Africa that they last reported for duty on 13 October 2014 and 6 October 2014 respectively and left the country on Tuesday this week.

Lance Corporal Mokhele said: “Things were no longer the same in the Makoanyane Hospital Logistics Unit, where I was based.

“I’m not going to get into the details of what exactly made me run away because of my safety but what you should know is that I am indeed running for my life.

“My security was deteriorating by the day, so I decided to stop going to work on Monday last week. I feared for my life and had to act fast to avoid being harmed or killed. The situation was no longer normal. I won’t say exactly where I am at the moment but I feel much safer here in South Africa.”

Captain Ramotšo, on the other hand, told the Lesotho Times his “troubles” began on 30 August  2014 when members of the LDF attacked three Maseru police stations– Police Headquarters, Maseru Central Charge Office, and Mabote Police Station. The soldiers were allegedly looking for firearms some Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) members wanted to give to some civilians to disrupt a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) march that had been scheduled for 1 September.

“A group of about eight to 10 soldiers came to my house at Makoanyane Barracks and knocked on my bedroom window on 30 August, and demanded that I should go with them. We drove away to Ha Ratjomose Barracks, where I was detained  in a cell until Monday (1 September).

“I was then told that I was being charged for not attending a meeting which had been called for 29 August at Ha Ratjomose. I hadn’t been aware of this meeting because I was in Mokhotlong on the day, so I was surprised to be charged for it.

“When I was released on Monday, I reported the detention to the relevant army authorities, but was told to go back to work. But I realised that a certain junior soldier I worked with was absent, and I told my bosses about it. The bosses asked my where he was and when I said I didn’t know, they asked why I had taken his risk allowance, if I dint know his whereabouts. But being his senior, I had taken it so I could give it to him when he reported for work. But this explanation was not accepted by the bosses, and I was threatened with death should I fail to produce this junior.

“After this, I realised that I wasn’t safe anymore and decided to run for my life.  But before I ran, reported my fears at the Maseru Central Charge Office on Monday this week.

“I just opened a case with the police just to be on the safe side but considering the security instability in the country, I knew the police wouldn’t be able to protect me, so I decided to flee the country today, Tuesday. I can’t disclose where exactly in South Africa I am for security purposes,” Captain Ramotšo said.

Contacted for comment yesterday, LDF spokesperson, Major Ntlele Ntoi did not answer his phone, while police spokesperson, Lebona Mohloboli told the Lesotho Times he was not aware of the case opened by Captain Ramotšo.

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