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Exiled soldiers kicked out of embassy


army-bootsKeiso Mohloboli

Three Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members who fled the country for South Africa last year fearing for their lives were allegedly kicked out of the Lesotho Embassy in Pretoria on Friday.

According to one of the exiled soldiers, Captain Lehloa Ramotšo, Defence Advisor at the High Commission, Colonel Tau Nts?ohi allegedly told them to vacate the premises as their presence was putting  the ambassador, ‘Malejaka Letooane, under pressure from government.

Captain Ramotšo, who had been staying with Lance Corporal Tankiso Mokhele and Colonel Matela Matobakele at the embassy since October and March 2014 respectively, said they were given until tomorrow to vacate the premises but decided to leave on Friday because they no longer felt safe.

Captain Ramotšo told the Sunday Express last night: “It is true that we have been expelled from the High Commission here in Pretoria where we had been staying since March last year.

“The military attaché here, Colonel Tau Ntšohi, came to the three of us yesterday and told us that the High Commissioner, Ms Letooane, was being put under a lot of pressure by the government for keeping rebels at government’s expense.

“He told us to vacate the residence and look for somewhere else to stay. We tried to explain to him that we could not leave at that short notice because we didn’t have any money for rent but he insisted and told us that he could let us stay until Monday (tomorrow).

“It must be clear that following the death threats that I received from one of my superiors in October last year, I reported the case to the police and the SADC Mission that was in Lesotho at the time. The Head of Mission, Fannie Phakola, then facilitated my accommodation in Ladybrand for seven days and then took me to Pretoria the following week.

“We had been assured by the previous government (led by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who also fled the country in May this year claiming he had been alerted of a plot to kill him by the LDF) that we could stay at the High Commission until our challenges with the LDF had been resolved. So we were shocked when Colonel Ntšohi told us that we were supposed to move out and find means to survive on our own.

“We are out in the streets stranded and don’t know what will happen next.”

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Ms Letooane proved fruitless yesterday as her phone was ringing unanswered, while the Sunday Express could also not get in touch with Colonel Ntšohi to hear his side of the story.

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