Taxi driver battered to death over traffic offence

Taxi driver battered to death over traffic offence

MASERU – POLICE brutality reached new heights this week when a taxi driver was battered to death for a traffic offence in Ha-Thamae.
Police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said they are investigating circumstances that led to the death of the 28-year-old Thabo Mohlakoana.
“We have opened a case and we have launched intensive investigations into the matter,” Mopeli said.

A gory video went viral this week showing the police dragging Mohlakoana from his sedan taxi while kicking and punching him on the head.
As he fell down, one policeman pinned him on the chest with a knee while others were busy kicking him all over the body.
One man, who it was unclear whether he was a policeman in plain clothes or just one of the people who took part in the beating spree, kicked him on the face while he was still pinned to the ground.

The police pulled him up and handcuffed him before taking him to Thamae police station.
His uncle, Nkoai Mohlakoana, told thepost that when the chief of Ha-Thamae heard what happened he called the man’s wife.
Nkoai Mohlakoana said the wife took some blankets and food for him at the police station.

When she visited again on the following day, he was not there and she noticed that his clothes were not there too.
“She overheard some police saying her husband was taken to hospital after the police beat him,” Nkoai Mohlakoana said.
The wife went to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“She was frustrated and stressed, she later told the family.”
Mohlakoana said at the hospital, his niece was made to fill some forms so that her husband could be treated but was later told that he had died.
“I am upset, in fact I am really mad,” Nkoai Mohlakoana said.

“Worse, my child was not troublesome. He was never involved in criminal activities,” Nkoai Mohlakoana said.
“Worse still, he had just married and now his wife is left alone with a four-month old child.”
Nkoai Mohlakoana said had it not been the chief of Ha-Thamae “perhaps we would never know what happened to our child”.

He also said some police officers seem to be touched by this and are “wholeheartedly” working with the family to ensure that justice will be served.
This was not the first incident in which the police misbehaved when dealing with traffic offenders this week.
Two days before the Thamae incident, in another incident, captured on video, a police officer pulled a driver out of a taxi and beat him. The driver punched back and a fight ensued.
Another police officer came and held the driver by the scruff of the neck, giving his colleague a chance to punch the driver without any restraint.
Superintendent Mopeli declined to comment about this incident.

These incidents happened at a time when parliament, through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), raised concerns about the police’s use of excessive force that result in many complainants being compensated with hefty amounts of money. The PAC chairman Selibe Mochoboroane was worried that the Ministry of Police paid complainants a staggering M7 million after they won cases in which they sued the commissioner for torture and other maltreatments.
Mochoboroane said the police will have to pay the claimants out of their pockets.

Moliehi Teleka

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