Police officers beat up chief

Police officers beat up chief

MASERU – IT is not too often that a chief is beaten in front of his own subjects.
But that is what happened to Chief Lebohang Sehauli of Likhoele Ha-Mahosi in Mafeteng last week.
Apart from the sheer humiliation, the vicious assault by two police officers left the chief nursing serious bruises and a broken hand.
His ‘crime’ was that he had refused to impound some goats that were grazing in his uncle’s yard.

Chief Sehauli told thepost this week that there was no complainant and he therefore had no reason to seize the goats.
To make matters worse, the goats belonged to the same uncle in whose yard they were grazing.
The chief said two police officers, whom he suspected were drunk, asked him why he was not seizing the goats and when he told them that they were not grazing in the reserved communal land they started beating him.

The police had come to the village from Mafeteng town to ask him to invite his subjects to come to the senior chief’s court for a public meeting.
After speaking to him briefly, the two officers disappeared into the village and when they re-appeared they looked drunk and started asking him about goats that were grazing in a villager’s garden.

They wanted him to impound the goats and drive them to the senior chief’s kraal.
He refused and told them that he had no legal basis to do so.
“They told me that I was a useless chief who did not know his role in the village,” Sehauli said.

“They handcuffed me and kept assaulting me as they drove me together with the goats to the area chief’s court.
“One of them hit me with a stone.” A chief under the law can only impound domestic animals if they are illegally grazing in a preserved land or in someone’s property if the owner has brought a formal complaint to him.

“I tried to tell them that I had no legal powers to seize the goats but they would not listen,” he said.
He said on their way to the senior chief, the police told him that he disrespected them by his refusal to impound the goats.

He said they would stop beating him once he was at his chief’s kraal but instead they tightened the cuffs on his wrists.
“To my surprise they beat me up, handcuffed my wrists and feet together,” he said.
“The handcuffs were too tight. I had never seen such manner of handcuffing,” he said.
He said his body is full of bruises.

Sehauli said he was beaten up for having said the goats belonged to his uncle.
The chief was only saved after his relative, Basotho Congress Party leader, Advocate Thulo Mahlakeng, intervened.
Mahlakeng said one of the villagers phoned him telling him that the police were killing his cousin.

“I rushed to the senior chief’s court to see and to my shock I found that this man had been severely beaten,” Mahlakeng said.
“It’s me who rescued him, took him to hospital and to the police station in Mafeteng to report this crime.”
Sehauli said he had since opened a docket with the police whom he said are investigating a crime against their colleagues.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed that Sehauli had reported the case at the Mafeteng police station.
“It is not clear as to why Sehauli was beaten but a thorough investigation will reveal what happened,” Mopeli says.

Tokase Mphutlane

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