THE High Court will tomorrow hear a habeas corpus case involving a missing police constable who disappeared in March this year.
Constable Mokalekale Khetheng was arrested by police officers while attending a traditional ceremony on March 26. He later “disappeared” from the police station.
The habeas corpus case comes amid frentic social media reports that a body of man had been retrieved from Katse Dam.
The police however said they were not aware of the report.
Khetheng’s family filed an urgent application in the High Court last month seeking it to order police commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa to bring their son’s corpse to court.
In an affidavit, Khetheng’s father, Thabo Khetheng, said his son was attending a traditional feast at his home when three police officers arrived and arrested him.
He said the arrest happened at around noon and they drove him to Hlotse Police Station.
He said 10 days later on April 5 he and his other son, Mabula Khetheng, went to the police station in Hlotse to find out what had happened to Khetheng but his efforts to get information from the police were in vain.
“Up to date, I do not know the whereabouts of my son, despite numerous attempts to find out where he can be,” Khetheng said in the affidavit.
“I am apprehensive that his life is in grave danger or he may even be dead, especially in view of the time period since he was kidnapped,” he said.
“I aver that it is unlawful and highly irregular for the police to keep a person in custody for this long without charging or taking him to court.”
Last week, a policewoman stationed at Hlotse told the High Court in an affidavit that she was one of the officers who arrested Khetheng.
Police Constable ’Mabohlokoa Makotoko made the disclosure while contesting her transfer to the Tlalinyane Police Post on the outskirts of the Leribe district.
Makotoko claims that after the arrest they were ordered by their superior not to take Khetheng to the Hlotse holding cells.
They however took him to the same Hlotse police station where he was later driven away.
Makotoko says a day after the arrest, she received numerous calls from colleagues asking where Khetheng was and because she felt uncomfortable with the questions she asked her superior who had ordered them to not to take Khetheng to Hlotse where the man was.
She says her superior answered that he took Khetheng to Maputsoe police station where he was interviewed and released and was later rearrested by a team of soldiers and police officers from Maseru who said he was a dangerous person.
She says she did not believe the senior’s explanation and later heard rumours that Khetheng had been killed.
Makotoko further says she was called to the Law Office in Maseru where she was asked to lie about the arrest and disappearance of Khetheng, but she refused.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Clifford Molefe told thepost that he had no reports at his desk to the effect that anyone had been retrieved from Katse Dam, as such he could not comment on the truth or otherwise of the information.
The lawyer for both the Khetheng family and Makotoko, Advocate Letuka Molati, said he had not been given any information on the alleged death of Khetheng.
Thabiso Khetheng, who is a brother to Mokalekale Khetheng, said the family had also not been informed of the death of Khetheng.
He said they were still waiting on a report as he had still not been found and the police had not availed any information as to his whereabouts.
Khetheng’s issue was first brought to the public when the Minister of Police was asked in parliament by the Member for Mokhotlong Constituency, Teboho Mapesela, when he would intervene in his disappearance.
Mapesela had submitted that reports had indicated that Khetheng was arrested by the Police CID on March 26 and was kept in custody at Hlotse Police Station.
Mapesela said Khetheng had mysteriously disappeared from the police station.
The government has denied reports that Khetheng was ever arrested, instead the Minister of Labour Thulo Mahlakeng who answered questions in the absence of Police Minister Monyane Moleleki said Khetheng had deserted his employment as a policeman.
He said Khetheng had been called to the Hlotse Police station by the Hlotse Police commander at the request of the Mokhotlong commander to explain why he had not reported for duty.
He went on to state that whilst there Khetheng left the reception and was never seen again.
Mahlakeng’s account conflicted with reports from other MPs as well as the account of other family members that Khetheng had been arrested by a group of police officers who came to his home in a police vehicle and apprehended him.
Mokhosi charged with murder
MASERU – FORMER Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi has been charged with the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng.
Mokhosi briefly appeared before Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya who told him that he had the right to apply for bail at the High Court.
Mokhosi is the fifth suspect in the murder of Khetheng. Other suspects already in custody are police officers Thabo Tšukulu, Mabitle Matona, Haleokoe Taasoane and Mothibeli Mofolo.
They are alleged to have murdered Khetheng on March 26 last year near Ha-Mokhalinyane in the district of Maseru.
His family would spend the next one and half years looking for him while the police insisted that he had been released.
The then government also insisted that it did not know where he was.
A testimony by a brave police officer broke the case and led to the arrest of the police officers. The police discovered that Khetheng had been given a pauper’s burial.
He was properly buried in Mokhotlong on Saturday.
Mokhosi who is also the deputy leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is represented by Attorney Qhalehang Letsika while the prosecutor is Advocate Lesaoana Mohale. He is expected to appear in court again today.
Sitting in the dock, wearing a navy blue jacket, Mokhosi looked sickly and tired.
Mokhosi handed himself to the police on Monday morning. He was accompanied by some LCD members who were however refused entry into the police headquarters premises.
His family has alleged that Mokhosi was beaten while in police custody.
A family member said the former minister’s face and wrists were swollen, an allegation the government has denied.
“We have found that ntate Mokhosi has been beaten up. He has a swollen mouth and his fingers could hardly hold a spoon so that he could eat,” said the family member. Communications Minister Joang Molapo however said Mokhosi was treated well. He said the former minister had access to his doctor and lawyer.
“We have presented him to the courts as the law requires. Due process was followed,” Molapo said.
The family member said on Tuesday Mokhosi asked to see a doctor but the police decided to take him to Katlehong Filter Clinic against their will. He was later allowed to see his doctor on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the LCD has slammed the police for allegedly beating Mokhosi during the interrogation.
LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata said the police are carrying out Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s instructions at his political rallies and in parliament that they should beat up suspects.
“The police should remember that their acts of beating people are a crime,” Sekata said.
He pleaded with SADC, the AU, the Commonwealth, the UN, the EU and other international organisations which are friends to Lesotho to help the Basotho nation out of this “crisis”.
Sekata also pleaded with the Christian Council of Lesotho and the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations to join in the battle against the police’s brutality against the public.
“We appeal to ambassadors of South Africa and the United States of America to also be roped in the fight against police brutality,” Sekata said.
Khetheng murder suspects face suspension
MASERU – FOUR police officers suspected of murdering Constable Mokalekale Khetheng have been slapped with letters requiring them to explain why they should not be suspended. The officers were supposed to have furnished the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli with their written explanations yesterday.
Police spokesman Inspector Mpiti Mopeli confirmed that the police authority had written to the officers.
Last night Mopeli said some had already responded while others were yet to do so.
The police officers Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Inspector Mabitle Matona, Haleokoe Taasoane and Superintendent Mothibeli Mofolo are being held in custody while investigations continue.
Two weeks ago a magistrate told the suspects that they have a right to apply for bail at the High Court. Mopeli said the move to suspend the police officers is meant to ensure that they don’t interfere with investigations. Asked if they would be paid their monthly salaries while on suspension, Mopeli said “that would be the decision of the employer”.
It was unclear whether the fifth suspect, Assistant Commissioner of Police Tšeliso Moerane had also received the ‘show cause’ letter.
Mopeli said his efforts to find out if Moerane had also received the letter were fruitless.
It is still unclear how Moerane is connected to the Khetheng case. He was arrested a few days after the arrest of the other four suspects.
Khetheng will be buried on Saturday in Mokhotlong district, three weeks after his body was exhumed from the paupers’ cemetery.
Khetheng was arrested in March last year in Sebothoane, Leribe, and transferred to Hlotse where he went missing.
One of the officers who arrested him, Sergeant ’Mabohlokoa Makotoko, told the High Court in a habeas corpus case that she had heard that Khetheng was taken away by a group of soldiers and police officers. She also told the court that her superiors instructed her to come to Maseru at the Law Office where she was pushed to change her statement about Khetheng’s disappearance but she refused.
Makotoko, who worked directly under some of the suspects in Leribe, was later charged with indiscipline and fired.
She has since been reinstated after her bosses’ arrest.
Cable thieves nabbed
Leribe – EIGHT suspects were on Sunday arrested by the Leribe police for allegedly stealing Econet’s copper cables.
The suspects, seven men and one woman, are from the villages of Sebothoane, Khanyane and Mankoaneng.
In recent weeks, Econet has been grappling with an upsurge in incidents of cable theft in Leribe. This is in addition to what the telecommunications company has long suspected to be wanton vandalism of its network infrastructure around the country.
The incidents which include the cutting fibre and stealing of copper cables have cost Econet millions of maloti, money the company says could have been used to help connect other areas in the country.
In some areas Econet’s copper network has been totally wiped out, disconnecting individuals, government departments and health centres.
The vandalism in Leribe affected Motebang Hospital, Ministry of Education, Department of Traffic and Lesotho Electricity Corporation offices.
This is in addition to thousands of individuals and hundreds of businesses that rely on the network for communication.
Puleng Masoabi, Econet’s Public Relations Officer, said the arrest of the eight suspects was made possible by the help of villagers who tipped off the police.
“We therefore wish to take this opportunity to applaud members of the Leribe community who provided information that has been helpful to police investigations and led to the arrest of these perpetrators”.
Masoabi said it is important for communities to always remember that the Econet’s infrastructure in their areas belongs to them because it is there to help them.
“It is the duty of every person to protect the infrastructure because it’s a national asset out of which we all benefit,” she said.
“Those stealing cables and vandalizing the network are not only sabotaging Econet but also the economy, their communities and other essential services. Hospitals and banks rely on this network for communication.”
“As Econet we continue to appeal to the public to jealously guard the network infrastructure.”
The suspects also had LEC cables in their possession.
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