Army to investigate soldiers for ‘mutiny’

Army to investigate soldiers for ‘mutiny’

MASERU – ARMY boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela is setting up a team to investigate soldiers who are suing him for possible mutiny.
What appears to have irked the army commander is not the lawsuit itself per se but their coming together to plan and eventually launch legal action against him.
That coming together to plan the lawsuit against the commander is regarded as mutiny under military law, according to the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spokesman, Captain Sakeng Lekola.

Captain Lekola said the LDF Act gives the commander powers to set up the team to investigate possible crimes against the army such as mutiny.
“In this matter the command suspects that section 48 has been violated as the members collaborated in numbers to launch a case against the command,” Captain Lekola said.
Captain Lekola said the issue seems suspicious to the commander hence the need to know how the soldiers “met and collaborated with those who are no more members of the army”.

Among those who sued the commander are former soldiers.
He said the army does not stop people from launching cases against the commander “it’s just that their collaboration is suspicious”.
He said there is one soldier who sued the army separately in the same subject matter, not collaborating with others in what would be understood as mutinous.
Earlier this month 16 army officers who skipped the country at the height of political disturbances six years ago sued Lieutenant General Letsoela demanding compensation.
The soldiers, some of whom have since retired, filed their court papers through Nthontho Attorneys.

Twelve of these applicants want the army commander to pay them M250 000 each “for pure economic loss”.
Eight of them are demanding a staggering M1 million each for unlawful assault and torture and a further M250 000 each for unlawful arrest.
Three of them are demanding a further M250 000 each for unlawful detention.
All the 16 applicants further told the court that they want the commander to pay them M500 000 each for contumelia (humiliation).
The applicants have asked the court to order the army to pay them M500 000 each for pain and suffering.
This means the total quantum of damages claimed from the army is over M29.7 million.

Some of these army officers are still at work while others have retired.
The soldiers skipped the country together with the then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane during the political upheavals around 2015.
They have also asked the court to order Lt Gen Letsoela to pay interest of the said amounts at the rate of 18.5 percent per annum from the date of summons to the date of final payment.
Last week Lt Gen Letsoela wrote the soldiers a scathing letter saying they should tell him why he should not kick them out of the army for mutinying against him.

Last Monday they were before High Court judge, Justice Moroke Mokhesi, with an urgent application seeking an order directing the boss to let them remain in the army until their case is finalised.
The army boss responded by launching investigations against them.
The soldiers also ask Justice Mokhesi to declare Lt Gen Letsoela’s team of investigators null and void from the start.
The court, however, ruled that the case is urgent but declined to nullify investigations against the soldiers.
On Monday the army will be expected to file its opposing papers while the soldiers will reply to them on or before August 5.

Nkheli Liphoto

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