Horror in a police cell

Horror in a police cell

…the story of a man brutally tortured by the police…

MASERU – ROGUE police officers forced Kabelo Ratia, 31, to eat his own faeces in a harrowing Gestapo style torture.
Ratiea, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) chairman for Machache constituency, claims he was forced to confess to have robbed a local business of M30 000.
Ratiea says he defecated twice and each time the torturers forced him to eat the excreta.
The torture happened two weeks ago at the Ha-Matela police post, according to Ratia.
Recounting his ordeal, Ratia says one morning he woke up to a text message asking him to call a certain number that was not in his contacts.
He says after a while a woman he knew called him and said some men have robbed their shop.
He says the woman said the man had stolen M30 000 and a laptop.

Ratia says a month later, the same woman called him again to tell him that the police wanted to see him.
He says he went to a shop where he met one police officer who told him that Matela police wanted to see him.
It was already late at that time, Ratia recalls.
He says he asked why he should not be allowed to come the next day but the officer insisted on taking him to the Matela police.

“They opened a dirty cell and ordered me to enter,” he says.
He says all hell broke loose at around 7 pm when he was ordered to come out of the cell barefooted.
He says policemen took him to another room where he was stripped naked.
Ratia says the police told him that he should tell them truth or suffer the consequences.
The police then tied his hand and ordered him to lie on the floor.

He says one police officer sat on his back and covered his face with a plastic bag. He gasped for air as he chocked. He says other officers were beating him, demanding that he tell them where he had hid the money.
Ratia says he defecated and his torturers laughed at him.
That was in the middle of night.
He says he tried to explain that he did not take part in the robbery but the officers were unrelenting.
They then ordered him to eat his faeces.

When the torture was intensified Ratia says soiled himself again. .
He says the police laughed out loud and said he was “now speaking the same language as Ts’eliso Mokhosi”.
Mokhosi is the former Minister of Defence who said he was severely tortured by the police who wanted him to confess that he has a hand in the murder of police constable Mokalekale Khetheng.
Ratia says one police officer ordered him to wipe his faeces but as he tried to bend down, the other police officer beat him with a stick and told him to eat the faeces.
So he ate his faeces for the second time.

He says he was later taken to a nearby dam where he was dunked in cold water as the beating continued.
Ratia says he fainted.
“One police officer said I was lucky because I did not die,” he says, adding that he also vomited profusely.
He says the police then dragged him back to the cell.
He says in the morning the other police officer asked him to tell them truth or “else we will meet again tonight”.
Ratia says the next day the same officer took him and then stripped him again.

He says they tied him again and went to the dam where he was forced to enter into the dam.
He says he endured the cold water for more than an hour.
Ratia says from the cold water he was taken back to their office where he was interrogated on how he communicated with the people who stole the money.
Ratia says they took him to the torture chambers again and was beaten with sticks and a knobkerrie.
“On that day I was harshly beaten up,” he recalls.

He says he was forced to confess.
In the process, Ratia says he had to implicate one Nazareth driver who was summoned but flatly denied knowing anything about the money.
He says his torture intensified as the police accused him of implicating an innocent man.
He says his wife came to see him the next day but the police did not allow him to tell her about the torture.

To avoid the torture, he says, he had to implicate about 15 people.
On his third day in police detention, around 4 am in the wee hours, police came and he was forced to implicate yet another man.
He says that man was arrested and also tortured badly.
He says he pleaded with the man to confess that they had both stolen the money.
Ratia says he told him if they did not confess they would die.

He says one police officer holding a can of beer who claimed to be a supporter of Likatana faction within the embattled All Basotho Convention (ABC) approached them and told them that he wants to dethrone Thabane.
He says one of his friends that he had implicated was also tortured.
He says they were crying together in the police holding cells.
While still huddled in the holding cells, one woman demanded from the police on duty if the 48 hours have not elapsed but she was verbally attacked by the police.

Ratia says they pleaded with the woman to leave the place as that could spell more problems for them.
He says he was released without a charge,  leaving behind the friend he had implicated.
He says he met Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli and told him the story.
Police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli says police management has established a team to investigate the incident.

Nkheli Liphoto

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