Police, army  go berserk

Police, army go berserk

MASERU-THE lockdown has revealed the ugly side of the police and the army.
This week the security forces lived up to their notorious reputation of brutality by beating and ill-treating people they accused of violating the lockdown.
Several people were forced to roll on the ground while others were made to do push-ups.
Others were assaulted with whips and sticks while others were kicked.

On Monday, Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital (Tšepong) nurses were whipped even after producing identity documents and letters showing that they were essential service providers.
The hospital’s spokeswoman, Mothepane Thahane, said the nurses were from work when they met armed soldiers.
“They were not given a chance to explain themselves or take out their accreditation cards,” she said.
The police have also come down hard on taxi drivers operating without authorisation from the National Covid-19 Command Centre.
Those who have the authorisation but were carrying more than two people have also been assaulted.

Videos of soldiers and police brutality have been making rounds on social media from the first day of the lockdown.
There is fear that such abuses could intensify in the next few weeks.
thepost saw three officers lining men on the floor instructing them to do push-ups at Seputana traffic lights along Moshoeshoe Road.
Those that were not complying were whipped on their buttocks.
The government has allowed taxis to operate between 6am and 10am and to close until 3pm to 6pm.
“We are at risk of loitering in town for no good reason if we are to wait for 3pm to travel back home,” a passenger said.

Taxi drivers are also not happy with the arrangement and the way they are being treated by the police.
Some say they were not aware that they should have special lockdown permits.
“This was not well organised from the onset, the government should have at least looked at the number of people that offer essential services and those that will be travelling to town for many essential reasons,” one taxi driver said.

He said it is unfair to just have five taxis per route that will carry a limited number of passengers per trip.
“People are stranded in town between 10am to 3pm and by this time workers are knocking off,” he added.
Advocate Napo Mafaesa said any security official beating people and punishing then in any way are committing a crime and violating human rights.
He said by saying this he does not mean they should not do their work but should be aware that they do not violate any of the civilians’ rights while doing their job.

“People are allowed to buy groceries, but the police and soldiers are busy stopping them,” he said.
He said there is no transport, and people are forced to walk to and from town.
“Their job is to monitor the congestion and compliance, not to torture people,” Advocate Mafaesa said.
He said he is not excluded among those that fear to go out and perform essential duties because of the soldiers and police who seem to be torturing people.
“They don’t even listen to anybody who tries to explain to them where they are going, they whip indiscriminately,” Advocate Mafaesa said.

Police spokesman, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, told the nation at the government-run Radio Lesotho yesterday morning that the joint army-police operation is not meant to hurt people.
He however appealed to Basotho to obey the government’s order to stay at home “because this is not for the benefit of the police but it is to save lives of every Mosotho”.
He emphasised that failure to listen and obey will result in deaths of many people because of coronavirus.
“Basotho, each one of us should take the responsibility to protect ourselves from the Covid-19 and also protect our loved ones,” Superintendent Mopeli said.
He said people should help the police to make sure that the lockdown is effective “instead of unnecessarily walking the streets”.

Rose Moremoholo

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