Cops charged with Ramahloko’s murder
THREE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members have been charged with the 30 August 2014 murder of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during an attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
The trio briefly appeared before the Magistrate’s Court in Maseru on Friday and charged with Sub-Inspector Ramahloko’s murder before being remanded in custody.
Captain Litekanyo Nyakane (38), Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane (34) and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa (31) are charged with contravening provisions of section 40(1) of the Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010.
Titled “Murder and extenuating circumstances”, Section 40(1) states that: “Any person who performs any unlawful act or omission with the intention of causing the death of another person, commits the offence of murder if such death results from his or her act or omission.”
According to the charge sheet, the trio fatally shot Sub-Inspector Ramahloko on the chest on 30 August 2014.
The trio was remanded in custody after being informed about their right to get a lawyer of their choice and to apply for bail. However, they could only apply for bail before the High Court as the Magistrate’s Court does not have powers to hear a bail application on a charge of murder.
Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was killed during a predawn LDF raid on three Maseru police stations which the military claimed was meant to foil a Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) plan to arm civilians but widely dismissed as an attempt to topple a sitting government.
The August 30 2014 raid was conducted soon after Dr Thabane, who had come to power after the May 2012 elections, had fired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF.
The then LDF commander, who refused to go then retaliated by attempting the coup in which soldiers were deployed to raid and seize arms from the police stations around Maseru. Lt Gen Kamoli accused the LMPS of planning to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) street protest that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.
LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing, who was deputy prime Minister in Dr Thabane’s first coalition had fallen out of favour with his boss and the LCD had arranged a protest against the government it was part of.
The LMPS vehemently denied the allegations that it had ever planned to arm civilians and Dr Thabane fled the country after receiving a tip off that army snipers were after him. He would then only return under heavy South African police guard.
The attempted coup triggered a chain of unsavoury events that led to the collapse of Dr Thabane’s government and the intervention SADC and other international bodies to bring back political stability in Lesotho.
Last month, Dr Thabane promised to pursue justice for the families of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and other people who were killed between 2014 and 2016.
Until last week, no arrests had been made in connection with the August 30 2014 raid in which Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was brutally murdered.
The charging of the three comes as eight other LDF members were this past week charged with murdering three men who had been arrested over the fatal shooting of two army officers at Maseru border post on 13 May 2017.