Soldiers sue army boss

Soldiers sue army boss

MASERU – SIXTEEN army officers who skipped the country at the height of political disturbances six years ago have dragged army boss, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, to court demanding compensation.
The soldiers, some of whom have since retired, filed their court papers on Monday 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 former 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.

Meanwhile, the applicants told the court that if the army disputes the claim and wishes to defend the action, they must enter an appearance to defend in court within 30 days after service of the summons.
Two of these applicants, Major Mojalefa Mosakeng and Lance Corporal Ngoliso Majara, got injured when they narrowly escaped death after their colleagues shot them.

The shooting happened on a day Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party was holding an event at Setsoto Stadium and the army took positions along Tona-Kholo Road which Thabane was to use.
The Prime Minister however diverted his route to get to Setsoto Stadium.
Major Mosakeng and L/Corporal Majara were assessing the route Thabane’s convoy would use on February 1, 2015.

On their way from the inspection, they noticed an army truck and a 4×4 twin cab parked near the Royal Palace, where Thabane would pass, and they advised the premier to use another route.
The two bodyguards were then attacked by the soldiers.
They then fled the country.
They were admitted in a Bloemfontein hospital for two weeks following the incident.

Major Mosakeng was shot on the arm while L/Corporal Majara had his right jaw shattered by a bullet.
Part of his nose was also blown away.
Major Mosakeng underwent 10 operations to reconstruct his left arm, while L/Corporal Majara had reconstructive surgery on his face.
Some of these soldiers were arrested and tortured in various army spots for alleged support of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao whom the King had appointed to replace Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.

When Thabane lost power to Pakalitha Mosisili, Lieutenant General Kamoli was reinstated and Mahao was demoted back to the rank of brigadier.
Mahao sued but before the case could be heard in the High Court he was killed in an operation the army said was meant to arrest him.
The LDF spokesperson Captain Sakeng Lekola confirmed that the commander had received the High Court summonses.
He said the Attorney General is still studying the summonses in order to advise the Commander on which direction to follow.

Captain Lekola said some of the plaintiffs are still members of the LDF who are on duty while some are on retirement.
He said under normal circumstances if one member of the LDF has some differences against each other, there are some proper channels that must be followed.
“The aggrieved party has to follow LDF Regulations Act 1998,” Capt Lekola said.

He said the law indicates that if any member is not satisfied with the other, he has to report the matter to his superior.
And if still not satisfied, the aggrieved party has a right to take the matter further up until the complaint reaches the Commander.
“This makes things easy for all of us before rushing to the court,” Capt Lekola said.
He said proper procedures have to be followed.
But in this case, the Commander received summons straight from the court.

’Malimpho Majoro

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