MASERU – Prime Minister Thomas Thabane should publicly apologise for allegedly ordering police to secretly “whip” suspects in their custody, self-exiled Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader Teboho Mojapela who claims to have fled Lesotho to escape unlawful incarceration and police brutality said this week. Mojapela who is an economic lawyer and proprietor of a financial service company, JP Finance with branches in Lesotho and South Africa, has asked the High Court to order the government to offer him security whenever he is in the country.
He also wants Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Beleme Lebajoa to be interdicted from summoning him to the police headquarters to answer a pending charge against him in which he (Mojapela) is alleged to have spoken ill of the First Lady ’Maesaih Thabane.
According to Prime Minister Thabane who has been cited in the application, Mojapela allegedly made unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations that his wife (’Maesaih Thabane) had hired an assassin to eliminate him. In his affidavit, Thabane said around October 2017 when Mojapela allegedly made the damning allegations, he and his spouse (’Maesaih) were out of the country.
“Upon our arrival in Kingdom of Lesotho, we were told by spokesperson that during a rally in Mokhotlong, applicant (Mojapela) had made unfounded allegations against the First Lady. I advised my wife to report the matter to the police, which she did.
“I wish to emphasise that the First Lady reported the matter to the police as a citizen of this country who was aggrieved by the untruthful allegations that were made against her in her official capacity as the First Lady regard being had to the fact that when the applicant allegedly made those unfounded allegations, he was referring to my wife as the First Lady and no in her personal capacity as such.
“But even if she were attacked in her personal capacity as such, she still had a right to report the matter to the police concerning the unfounded allegations that were levelled against her,” Thabane’s papers show. Mrs Thabane later reported the incident to ACP Lebajoa who is also cited in Mojapela’s application and a case of crimen injuria was opened against him.
Evidence further shows that Lebajoa called Mojapela to police headquarters to hear his side of the story 12 days before the latter launched his political party and he promised to come the next day. Thabane claims that Mojapela kept on postponing the appointment but still promising to go to the police until he ultimately filed the present application before the High Court in February through his lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati.
In his certificate of urgency Mojapela has asked the court to stop Lebajoa from interrogating him about the accusations preferred against him pending finalisation of the application. He has also cited the Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Advocate Lebohang Hlaele, Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, the Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane and Attorney General King’s Counsel Haae Phoofolo as respondents in the matter.
Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane represents all the respondents. Mojapela in his prayers wanted the respondents to be interdicted from interfering with his right to participate in the affairs of his party. He also wants the court to order the respondents not to interfere with his fundamental freedoms especially those of association, movement, speech and related rights save by due process of law.
He further wants the respondents to pay legal costs of the case on a scale to be determined by the court. Mojapela is also a founder of Exact Finance, a financial services company with about 60 branches in South Africa with a presence in nine provinces of the neighbouring country.
“I am a believer in development, a job-creator and a philanthropist. I founded the SR with the sole mission to correct the wrongs, injustices and under-development that are rife in Lesotho, not for financial self-aggrandizement for which politicians in Africa, especially in Lesotho in particular are known for. “The purpose of this application is to achieve the ultimate annihilation and obliteration of the crime of crimen injuria from the statute books of Lesotho and further address the issue of violation of human rights now that mine are susceptible to violation by Policeman Beleme Lebajoa, who I surmise has heard the Prime Minister saying that police officers should whip, torture, ill-treat and exercise acts of brutality over suspects when not in the vicinity of members of the public,” Mojapela said.
He noted that it was an open secret that Thabane announced at a public gathering in Ha Matala, Maseru and during a parliamentary session that police should assault suspects whenever they are not within view of the general public. He said when Thabane made the pronouncement in 2017, he never withdrew his words, adding the assertions were thereafter published in local newspapers, radio stations and social media.
“The Prime Minister should in the premises be ordered to apologise and with withdraw the said words for the reason that they fell onto the ears of police who in various instances have committed acts of brutality in times subsequent to the utterances of those words. “I submit that police killed a security officer in Maputsoe, they killed a member of public in Butha-Bothe over a dispute concerning a flash drive, they shot a male person on the buttocks in Maputsoe and killed another person in Kao, Butha-Buthe and injured two others,” Mojapela’s papers show.
The acts of brutality, he said, are legion and he did not need to mention them any further except that the deputy leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Tšeliso Mokhosi also claimed to have been tortured by police.“It follows that I have fear that the acts of police brutality may be meted out against me by Policeman Lebajoa. He is alleged to have also tortured a fellow police officer who was a police spokesperson.Default Basic Success warning Info Danger Primary