Army threatens to evict Nyakane
MASERU – The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) is mulling throwing detained army officer, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane’s family out of their lodgings at Makoanyane Barracks, accusing his wife of allegedly threatening national security.
’Mampho Nyakane, whose husband is awaiting trial on a gamut of heinous offences while incarcerated at Maseru Central Prison, was issued with a show cause letter yesterday which enjoins her to defend her continued stay in the army house officially allocated to her husband.
The army’s Director of Human Resources accuses her of unlawfully providing a mobile phone to her detained husband, adding that the use of that phone had compromised national security.
The army further contends that Nyakane had tarnished the reputation of the LDF and its sister security institutions by claiming to the media that she and her children had been terrorised by both armed police and soldiers.
After her husband was allegedly found in possession of a cellphone in his prison cell, ’Mampho was summoned to police headquarters on Monday.
But because she believed she would be tortured, she instead approached the High Court in a bid to interdict her summons.
But Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase dismissed her application, saying it was wrongly brought before the High Court, adding it should have been taken before the Magistrate’s Court first.
Justice Mahase ordered the application to be accordingly moved from the High Court to the Magistrate Court.
She further insisted: “Applications for interdict are normally filed in the Magistrate’s Court and other Subordinates Courts, there are no exceptional circumstances justifying otherwise why an ordinary application of this nature must be filed in the High Court and not the Magistrate Court which has the competent jurisdiction to deal with an application of this nature.”
In her court papers, ’Mampho said she believed police would torture her hence the application. She had asked the High Court to order the Commissioner of Police and his subordinate officers not to assault her.
She also asked the court to restrain the police from dealing with her in any manner other than due process.
Additionally, she requested the court to direct the Commissioner of the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) and officers under his command to allow her to visit her husband and provide him with food.
This was according to her court papers after she encountered problems when she had gone to see him last weekend.
She said she was forbidden to see her husband on the morning of April 5 by prison officials who raised security concerns.
The officers later changed their tune and permitted her to only give him food, ’Mampho said.
She said she was then taken to an office where she was told that there were certain security concerns that were being addressed, hence she could no longer talk to her husband but could only give him food in silence.
“I was rather puzzled by this because spouses of other detained soldiers were allowed to see and talk to their husbands that day,” she said.
Later that evening, she said a group of armed police officers and soldiers raided and ransacked her home at the military barracks in a theatrical manner.
They also ordered her to surrender all phone boxes in the house.
“I must explain that at the time, my children and I were terrified by what was happening,” she said.
After searching her house, the police officers introduced themselves as superintendents: Thamae and Lichaba. They then ordered her to report to police headquarters on Monday this week.
She said they were adamant she would reveal who had given her husband the phone that was found in his prison cell.
They also instructed her to bring a purchase receipt for that phone.
“They threatened me that I was going to tell them where my husband got the phone found in his possession from. Their tone told me that I was going to be tortured.
“I verily believed that they would torture me to implicate my husband. I must state at the onset that I am not willing to say anything to the police or assist them to investigate the case against my husband, myself or anyone,” she said.
The officers she said ordered her not to discuss their visit with anyone until she had been to police headquarters.
“They told me they knew I was a former soldier hence I knew how things were done.”
She said her family was still traumatised by the police and soldiers’ actions, adding they had trouble sleeping that night.
“We did not sleep at all that night and the following morning one of my children was still so shaken that she actually fainted. I took both of them to a doctor who recommended counselling.”
Nyakane said she was also still in great shock herself, adding her doctor had recommended counselling for her.
“I approached the court to get protection from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment which may further be meted against myself in case I do not give an explanation that is favourable to police more so because they (police) have already indicated that I will be tortured.”
She added: “I have approached this honorable court to seek protection of the law, I aver that torture is a ritual of the police in investigating cases and this is public knowledge.
“My children and I have already been emotionally tortured by some police officers who threatened me that I will talk when I report myself at the police headquarters.”