Police officer narrates ordeal at hands of soldiers

Police officer narrates ordeal at hands of soldiers

MASERU – A police officer has narrated in court how he was assaulted by soldiers during the security and political instability that rocked the country in 2015. Lance Sergeant Mohapi, from the police’s Special Operations Unit (SOU), was testifying in a case in which two soldiers are being charged with assault. L/Sergeant Kapoko told the Maseru magistrate’s court that he was visiting his brother, a soldier, who was detained at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison when he was beaten up.

His brother, Molefi Kapoko, was among scores of soldiers who had been rounded up and detained by the army for allegedly backing the late Maaparankoe Mahao. Mahao was locked in a fierce tussle with Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli for the control of the army. Kapoko said he was assaulted severely by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)’s Sergeant Nkesi Makoetje. Lance Sergeant Kapoko said Sergeant Makoetje was wearing civilian clothing during the incident that happened on June 18, 2015 at the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) premises.

He said Sergeant Makoetje seemed agitated during the incident. He said he told him and his brother who had accompanied him to visit his detained brother to wait for him outside the reception. Kapoko said while they were still waiting to be attended to, a Quantum taxi packed with soldiers arrived and Sergeant Makoetje, out of the blue, began punching him in the face. He also kicked him, he said. Kapoko said his brother, Thulane, who had accompanied him to the prison, was not spared the insults and assaults either.

He said Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, who had alighted from the taxi, assaulted his brother. Kapoko said the soldiers even used the butts of their rifles to assault them. Advocate ’Maletsatsi Kao, who is representing Sergeant Makoetje, denied that his client ever assaulted Thulane as had been alleged. He said Thulane’s evidence in chief contradicts the one he filed at the police station. Advocate Kao said he was informed by Sergeant Makoetje that Thulane had been unruly when he arrived at the LCS premises, pacing up and down uttering words that he could not join the queue to see his brother.

Sergeant Makoetje, together with Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, are being charged with two counts of assault. The crown alleges that the two officers acted in concert and in furtherance of a common purpose when they assaulted the Kapoko brothers with the intention to cause them grievous bodily harm. Sergeant Moepi, who is currently detained at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison, is also charged with the murder of former LDF Commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao that happened at Ha Lekete, Mokema on June 25, 2015.

He is also being charged with the murders of Khothatso Makibinyane, Molise Pakela and Lekhoele Noko that happened at Setibing in Maseru on May 16, 2017. The case, which is before Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa, continues. Mohau Mahanyele is representing the crown.

Senate Sekotlo

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