MASERU — A couple from Lithabaneng is suing the Lesotho Defence Force for unlawful and malicious arrest.
Retired brigadier Motlalentoa Kopo, 69, and his wife ‘Mamoneuoa Kopo, 63, are suing the army for a total of M755 000 for the ordeal they say they suffered when a group of soldiers arrested them in June 2007.
Kopo is claiming M505 000 while his wife is suing for M250 000 in separate cases which all cite the army commander, Major General Thuso Motanyane, as the respondent.
‘Mamoneuoa, a former teacher, told the High Court on Tuesday that she was about to go to work on June 18 2007 when soldiers wearing balaclavas stormed her home.
She said the soldiers entered her house and pointed their “big guns” at her and her grandchildren who were about to leave for school.
Her daughter was also present during the raid, she said.
“Three men went into my bedroom to search,” ‘Mamoneuoa testified.
“My daughter Ntebaleng asked them to produce a search warrant but they said that I should do what they tell me to do.”
She said the soldiers then asked about her husband’s whereabouts before ordering her to take them to him.
“Ntebaleng (her daughter) asked them to let me go to school and she offered to take them to my husband’s work but they refused,” she said.
‘Mamoneuoa claimed that from her home the soldiers drove at high speed on the wrong side of the road.
She said when they arrived at the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association’s office where her husband was working as a security guard the soldiers led her out of the car while pointing their guns at her.
They handcuffed her husband and put him in the back of the van, ‘Mamoneuoa claimed. From there they drove to Ratjomose barracks.
At Ratjomose, ‘Mamoneuoa said, the soldiers dropped her husband and drove her back home where they allegedly continued their search.
It was only then that the soldiers told her they were looking for guns that they alleged her husband had stolen from an army base.
They found her husband’s licensed gun.
By that time, she said, the soldiers had already confiscated her phones including those of her family members and her tenants.
‘Mamoneuoa said she did not report for work the following day because she was worried about her husband who was still in military detention.
“I wondered whether he had eaten or was still alive,” she said.
‘Mamoneuoa told the court that a few months after her ordeal she voluntarily resigned from her teaching job because her health had deteriorated since her encounter with the soldiers.
Mamoneuoa said she suffered from hypertension.
On Wednesday, Kopo told a story with similar graphic details as Mamoneuoa’s.
He said at Ratjomose he slept the whole night in handcuffs.
Kopo said the soldiers had interrogated him about guns they alleged he had stolen as well as his political affiliation.
“I told them that I did not know about the army guns they asked me about,” he said. “I also told them that I did not belong to any political party.”
Kopo told the court that even when he requested to go to the bathroom the soldiers still refused to remove the handcuffs.
“Private Mofomobe (a soldier) helped me by unzipping my trousers and taking out my ‘member’ to pee in the toilet,” he said.
“I felt humiliated and Mofomobe was embarrassed too. I am still in shock up to today.”
The couple’s cases were postponed to June 10 and Justice Semapo Peete is presiding.
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