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Court orders police to pay

Nat Molomo

MASERU — The High Court has ordered the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to pay M223 000 in damages to a woman whose son was killed by a police officer in 2006. ’Mamohale Mohale, 75, had sued the LMPS after an officer from Mpharane Police Station in Mohale’s Hoek fatally shot her son Tlali Mohale on November 1, 2006.

Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane awarded her M223 230, the same amount she was demanding.
The plaintiff relied on the testimony of Mandebele Phinda, a former police officer. On November 1, 2006 Phinda had led the team of police officers who had gone to arrest Mohale. Phinda testified that he was ordered by Sergeant Moshoeshoe to go and arrest Mohale at Ha Folatsane.

Led in his evidence by ’Mamohale’s lawyer, Advocate Ratšolo Thulo, Phinda said he was in charge of three police officers Mohapi, Kometsi and Mosi and they proceeded to Ha Folatsane village, where the deceased lived. They looked for Mohale at his parent’s home but they could not find him. They were then told that he was at a local bar.

“When we arrived at the drinking house I instructed the gentlemen with whom I was to stay outside,” Phinda said. He said when he entered the bar he found Mohale sitting on a table. “I touched him on the shoulder and when I told him to go outside he complied,” Phinda explained. Phinda said as Mohale rose from the table he heard a gunshot. “The bullet hit me on the hand with which I was holding Mohale and it passed on to hit him on the neck,” he said.

“As Mohale fell down I looked back and saw policeman Mohapi holding a gun at high port (in a shooting position).” “Mohapi then said sorry Morena Phinda I was trying to shoot this person (Mohale).” Phinda said he asked one of the ladies in the bar for doek to tie his bleeding hand. “I realised that Tlali (Mohale) was dying on the floor and he died immediately,” he said.

The witness then asked his fellow police officers to inform the chief of the village about what had transpired before going back to the police station. He said after the incident there were investigations but he did not know their outcome. They also said they reported the matter to Sgt Moshoeshoe. In her brief testimony ’Mamohale, the deceased’s mother, told the court her husband died in 2002.
Her three children had also passed on, she said.

’Mamohale told the court that she was staying with Mohale in her house and he was the breadwinner for the family. After her son’s death she incurred funeral costs of M26 770. She said she wanted to be paid M223 230.00 for loss of support. “We submit that the plaintiff has made a case and we ask that she be granted prayers in her summons,” Advocate Thulo submitted. Justice Chaka-Makhoane agreed.

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