Africa-Press – Lesotho. LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) Commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Mojalefa Letsoela, has been slapped with yet another lawsuit, this time for a massive M8 million in damages by a Maseru man who was allegedly shot at by soldiers in 2021.
In his court papers filed a fortnight ago, Teboho Kadi, says he was attacked by LDF members in Hillsview, Maseru on 21 July 2021. He says that he was in the company of two others and they initially did not know that their assailants were soldiers or the reason why they were attacked.
It was only after one of his colleagues had collapsed during the shooting incident that they discovered that the assailants were soldiers who had mistaken them for members of a notorious gang which had been fingered in the murders of civilians in Maseru. Lt-Gen Letsoela and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are the first and second respondents respectively in the application.
Referring to himself in the third person, Mr Kadi states that, “On or around the 21st day of July 2021, the plaintiff, who was in company of one Tankiso Masenyetse, had a meeting with one Sello Maieane at or around a road near Khali Hotel, Hillsview in the district of Maseru.
“Upon arrival, Maieane got into a vehicle the plaintiff was in and suggested that they drive towards Khali Hotel so that they can comfortably discuss something.
The plaintiff instructed Tankiso to drive towards the hotel. This is when he (Kadi) spotted a suspicious vehicle that appeared to be tailing them. He did not worry about it until another vehicle appeared in the opposite direction and blocked them.
“People who were in the two vehicles came out and started shooting at the plaintiff’s vehicle.
The attackers instructed the two to step out of the vehicle and raise their hands up but continued to shoot at Maieane,” Mr Kadi states in his court papers.
He states that Tankiso collapsed as a result of the injuries he sustained when he was shot at. “I aver that Tankiso collapsed due to the injuries sustained as a result of the shooting.
I further aver that the plaintiff was instructed by the attackers to lift him up and put him into their vehicle but he failed as Tankiso had sustained injuries on his back and on his thigh.
The plaintiff was then assisted by the subordinates of Lt-Gen Letsoela who were spewing insults and ridiculing him to put Tankiso into the vehicle. “One of the attackers then suggested that they take the plaintiff and Tankiso to Makoanyane Military Hospital.
That is when it came to the plaintiff’s knowledge that the men who had detained them were soldiers. They were driving a private vehicle: a 4×4 Toyota GD6 with number plates K 2444.
“Upon inquiry, the plaintiff was informed by one of the soldiers, who identified himself as the leader of the operation, that they had received a tip off that he was a member of ‘likobo’ gang.
The gang is notorious for killing civilians. “The officer later admitted that they had been given a false tip off and it was clear from his statement that there had been a case of misidentification.
” Mr Kadi says he was treated for his injuries at Makoanyane Military Hospital under the watchful eyes of two soldiers.
He says he was transferred to Queen Memorial Hospital later that same evening. He does not state the nature of the injuries that he allegedly sustained.
He says upon his discharge from hospital he reported the matter at Pitso Ground Police Station but nothing had been done about the matter. He further alleges that despite writing a letter of demand, Lt-Gen Letsoela “failed, refused and/or neglected to pay him for the damages he incurred”.
He states that due to the unlawful assault, he has incurred medical and transport expenses. His image and good name have also been tainted as the public now knows him as the man who was shot at by soldiers due to his alleged association with the notorious gang, he states.
All in all, he wants to be compensated to the tune of M8 million. The damages claim is broken down as follows: M2 million for pain and suffering, M2 million for current and future medical expenses M2 million for contumelia and M2 million for damaged property and expenses incurred thereto.
Lt-Gen Letsoela and Advocate Motsieloa are yet to file their responses. Mr Kadi’s application is the latest in the growing number of lawsuits against Lt-Gen Letsoela for the alleged brutality of soldiers against civilians.
Such human rights violations were commonplace during the tenure of former commander, Tlali Kamoli, who has been languishing in remand prison since 2017 awaiting trials for several crimes including treason, murder and attempted murder.
Ever since his January 2018 appointment, Lt-Gen Letsoela has worked out to improve the image of the LDF and the nation’s trust in it. But if such allegations of brutality and if the lawsuits continue, this could reverse all his hard work.
The army would then be viewed as a rogue institution in much the same way that the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is seen by many people. Just like Lt-Gen Letsoela, Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli had started well after his 2017 appointment. However, several cases of police brutality as well as the failure to curb spiralling crime have undone his initial successes.