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Court blocks soldier’s eviction

Tefo Tefo

MASERU — An army captain who is locked in court battles with army commander Lieutenant General Thuso Motanyane this week obtained an interim court order to block his eviction from a government house.
Captain Bulane Sechele approached the High Court on Thursday challenging an order by Colonel Tšenolo ‘Mako to vacate his residential house at Ratjomose Barracks for one at Makoanyane Barracks.
Sechele, who has fought running battles with Lt Gen Motanyane in recent months, is due to face a disciplinary hearing for allegedly distributing to fellow soldiers a document he had drafted to oppose the government’s plans to introduce a compulsory contributory insurance scheme for army personnel.
Lt Gen Motanyane alleges that Sechele, a law graduate, breached military regulations when he distributed that document without approval from his superiors.
Sechele is also currently awaiting a High Court judgment in a case in which he has asked the court to compel the army commander Motanyane to release a full record of proceedings of the board of inquiry which was established last year to investigate him.
He has also asked the Constitutional Court to declare some provisions of the Lesotho Defence Force Act of 1996 unconstitutional.
Sechele rushed to the High Court on Thursday after Colonel ‘Mako had ordered him to vacate the house at Ratjomose Barracks in days.
The instruction to vacate the house was given on Wednesday.
He was supposed to move to a house in Makoanyane Barracks which he said did not have electricity and was in a swampy area.
Acting High Court judge Justice Lebohang Molete granted Sechele an interim order that “respondents (Lt Gen Motanyane and Col ‘Mako) be restrained from evicting the applicant (Sechele) from house No.123/150 at Ratjomose Barracks to occupy house No.008 at Makoanyane Barracks by Friday 24, June 2011 pending the finalisation of this application”.
The respondents have been asked to appear before the High Court on July 4 to defend the case.
In court papers Sechele said Colonel ‘Mako’s order that he vacates the house was unreasonable, unfair, institutionally biased and discriminatory.
“It is further vital to state that the decision to relocate me is clothed with numerous grounds of unreasonableness, unfairness, institutional bias and discrimination,” he said.
Sechele also complained that he was being asked to vacate a better house for a worse one.
He said he was being asked to occupy a house without electricity while officers of his rank stay in comfortable houses.
“The order is also unfair because I am (being) ordered to vacate a house for the most junior soldier.
“The house at Makoanyane is situated in a swampy area. In contrast, the one at Ratjomose is situated in a dry area where there is even parking space for my family car, unlike at Makoanyane,” Sechele said.
“The person who has to take over the house at Ratjomose barracks is a private soldier, who is a bodyguard to Brigadier Motoa (Assistant Chief of Staff Administration and Human Resources).
“It now appears to me that I am being reallocated into a very disadvantaged house for the benefit of a private soldier, simply because he is a bodyguard of a brigadier,” he said.
He argued that the fact that he works at Makoanyane does not justify that he be moved from his house in Ratjomose.
There are many officers who work at Makoanyane Barracks but live at Ratjomose Barracks, the applicant argued.
“It cannot, therefore, be the reason that I have to be closer to my working area. If so, that could have been stated expressly so that I could have responded accordingly.
“Surprisingly, it seems I have to vacate a house for the private soldier,” he said.
Sechele alleges that his problems with the army authorities started after he challenged the government pension scheme last year.
“Ever since the matter of the contributory pension fund, I have been through tribulations within the defence force.
“I genuinely consider this unilateral reposition as one of the methods used to demoralise me so that I may leave the defence force; I shall not leave today,” he said.

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