Ramatšella takes police to task

Ramatšella takes police to task

MASERU – CONTROVERSIAL Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) secretary-general Bokang Ramatšella has petitioned Police Commissioner Molibeli Holomo to end impunity and investigate 17 murder cases he alleges are being ignored.
Ramatšella’s demand is carried in a six-page petition copied to Angolan President Joao Lourengo, who is SADC Chairperson on Politics, Defence and Security and the SADC envoy, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, among others.

He said his petition stems from the Lesotho opposition’s report to Lourenco that “all deaths at the hands of police have gone uninvestigated”, in particular when perpetrators are police officers. Ramatšella calls on Commissioner Holomo to investigate the murder of a Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldier Private Ramoholi, who was allegedly tortured to death in police detention in 1997. No action was taken to investigate the death, he alleges.

He also says LDF’s Private Mokotoane’s murder, who was shot and killed by a policeman at Ha-Leqele in 2013, should be investigated and action taken against the perpetrators.

Another soldier, Sergeant Mahlala, “was shot and killed execution style by TY police at Kolonyama in Leribe district in 2013”, he says.
He says Lance Corporal Matšela was shot and killed by one Police Officer Mpela in Thaba-Tseka in 2014 but no action has been taken to date.
He says a citizen called Tekesele Shai, commonly known as Makhoathi, was shot and killed by police in Koro-Koro in Maseru in 2014, again with no action taken to investigate the incident.

He claims that in 2003, police under the command of the then Senior Superintendent Kholokholo, now Deputy Commissioner Monaheng, “mowed down several factory workers with live ammunition in which five died”. In November 2005, Lance Sergeant ’Mota was shot and killed by a security guard in Mafeteng and the police have not taken any action, Ramatšella says.

He says in 2010 one Tekane Tekane was gunned down by a team of policemen while during the same year three crime suspects in Tlokoeng, in Mokhotlong, were tortured to death by the police. In December 2011 in Thabang, in Mokhotlong, police under the command of Senior Inspector Mokonyana shot and killed ’Makhasi Tsatsi, a woman, and Sempe Motleleng, a man and no action has been taken, claims Ramatšella.

Ramatšella says in July 2017 one Thelingoane ’Mota was shot and killed by “known” police officers in Koro-Koro and the police have turned a blind eye to the murder. In November 2017, a 70-year-old Mosiuoa Raleababa died in Maputsoe police detention and no investigations have been conducted.

In October 2017, one Kamohelo ’Matli was severely tortured by the police in Butha-Buthe and later died from his wounds but no action has been taken against his murderers, he says. Ramatšella says Holomo must also investigate the murders of prominent politicians.
He says the death of Bereng Sekhonyana, who was ambushed, shot and killed at his home in Maseru in 2005 in what was suspected to be intra-party rivalry, should be investigated.

Sekhonyana was the deputy leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP), the third most powerful party in the quartet coalition government.
He also says the late Clement Machakela, who was deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), was ambushed, shot and killed at his home in Maseru in 2009 after defecting to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
Ramatšella calls for the investigation of the murder of Thabiso Tšosane, a prominent businessman and ABC politician who was also ambushed, shot and killed in Ha-Thetsane “after alleged squabbles within the party” in 2015.

He says action should be taken in the murder of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, who was ambushed and killed near her home in 2017, a day before her husband was sworn in as prime minister. In the letter dated March 14, 2018, Ramatšella says Holomo should live up to the commitments he made on different media platforms that they are “committed to resolve all criminal cases which were not attended to during the tenure of the previous regime”.

He makes reference to the on-going campaign “to arrest prominent members of the opposition including members of the Lesotho Defence Force and few of their own”. “In this campaign, the deaths of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng both of whom were members of the LMPS… have been given a priority and much publicity by the LMPS with a heavy dose of political support from the government,” Ramatšella says.

“While I regard this determination as a positive step geared towards decisively dealing with unresolved cases of murder, I am at the same time perplexed by the fact that there are so many Basotho who have been murdered so many years before Ramahloko and Khetheng, whose deaths have not been investigated to date,” he says.
“Some of the suspects are known police officers who are continuing to carry out their duties within the LMPS ranks as if nothing had happened.”
Ramatšella says this gives the impression that the police are selectively applying the law.
“If this is not the case, why is it that the deaths of Ramahloko and Khetheng are so important than those of so many Basotho?” he says.
He says the report by opposition leaders to Lourengo expressed “their deep concern on what they called barefaced selective application of the law by the LMPS”.

“It is my earnest request that all the aforementioned cases of murder where perpetrators are suspected to be members of the LMPS be thoroughly investigated, suspects be arrested and brought before the courts of law,” he says. “This is not a difficult exercise, it is already happening with members of the LDF,” he says, adding: “I am of the opinion that the LMPS should not allow its members to evade justice or be above the law.”
Ramatšella says it has become increasingly clear that the police have “discretionary powers to do nothing about the cases in which its members are involved”.

“There is no doubt that the LMPS selects persons against whom the law is enforced in a well-calculated pick and choose kind of law enforcement,” he says. Ramatšella says the police and soldiers who have been arrested and are awaiting trial in jail ever since the current government took power in June last year are “associated with the previous regime”.

Police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said the Commissioner has not yet received Ramatšella’s letter. He however said it is not correct to say the police selectively investigate cases. The problem, Mopeli said, is that the police don’t have enough information on the cases. “That makes us look like we don’t attend to other cases”. Supt Mopeli appealed to Basotho to help with any information that might assist in the investigations.

Staff Reporter

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