Two arrested over Facebook group

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Keiso Mohloboli

TWO Ha-Mabote men were yesterday arrested for allegedly being administrators of a shadowy Facebook group that has been releasing sensitive government information.

Lira Moeti and Mohato Seleke were arrested early in the morning and taken to Ha-Mabote police station at around 5:30am “without any clear reasons”, their lawyer, Attorney Tumisang Mosotho, told the Lesotho Times.

“One police investigator (name withheld) denied me access to my clients and didn’t give me clear reasons why the two were arrested,” Attorney Mosotho said.

“He only told me they were taken to the station to help police with investigations which he refused to tell me about. I am currently not in a position to tell you what the investigations were about but can only tell you that from Ha-Mabote Police Station, they were taken to Police Headquarters and released after working hours.”

The lawyer said he was unable to consult with his clients after their release because they were tired.

“I understood that they were tired following their release and did not consult them on what really transpired at both Ha-Mabote Police Station and Police Headquarters,” said Attorney Mosotho.

“I told them to go to their homes and have a rest. However, they were both in good physical condition despite the fatigue.”

However, a source close to the matter told the Lesotho Times Mr Moeti and Mr Mabote were arrested for allegedly being administrators of a Facebook group called ‘Count Down to Elections 2015, 2016 or 2017’.

According to the source, the country’s security agencies were keen to establish the identity of a shadowy Facebook character called Makhaola Qalo who posts sensitive information about government operations.

“Makhaola Qalo has been posting information on the ‘Count Down to Elections 2015, 2016 or 2017’ group before it is in the public domain. For instance, he or she posted the list of soldiers who were going to be promoted after the killing of former army boss Maaparankoe Mahao claiming it was a reward for carrying out the operation,” said the source.

“A day after Makhaola Qalo’s post, some soldiers were promoted in the army and people started to believe the claims he or she made.”

Lt-Gen Mahao was killed on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru during a military operation to arrest soldiers suspected of being part of an alleged plot to topple the Lesotho Defence Force command.

Makhaola Qalo, the source said, had also revealed that Bidvest Car Rental’s contract to provide vehicles to the government would be extended for two months. The extension was made after one of the companies that failed to qualify for the tender lodged a complaint alleging irregularities in the process.

“Makhaola Qalo posted that the contract for Bidvest, which had been managing the government fleet for six months, would be extended. After a few days, it was announced that the contract had been extended for two months,” the source said.

The authorities, said the source, would not discover the identity of the shadowy character through Mr Moeti and Mr Seleke since the duo “also did not know”.

“The police did not succeed in establishing who Makhaola Qalo is because Mr Moeti and Mr Seleke said they also did not know him even though they appeared to be the administrators of the social media group,” the source added.

Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Superintendent Clifford Molefe asked the Lesotho Times to call after an hour. However, his mobile phone was no longer available at the time of going to press.

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