…post-mortem says 24-year-old Letsoapo Mphuraleli died of internal bleeding following severe assault while the Lesotho Defence Force allegedly said he passed away due to high blood pressure
THE Mphuraleli family has written to the Ministry of Defence demanding an explanation of how their son, Letsoapo, died last month while undergoing military training with the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
Letsoapo (24) died on 14 September, allegedly due to high blood pressure, but his parents refused to accept this explanation by the LDF, and requested an independent autopsy which was conducted on 26 September.
In a letter dated 29 September 2014, addressed to the Defence ministry, Letsoapo’s parents expressed their frustration and suspicion regarding their son’s death, while demanding that his “killers” should not go unpunished.
“As parents of the late Letsoapo Mphuraleli, we were informed of the death of our son by the head of LDF Training School and one LDF officer called Kekana, on 14 September 2014,” reads the letter.
“The two LDF officers explained to us that our son had been sick and died in hospital. The officers did not give us details of how our son died and this made us suspicious. We were also not convinced about the cause of his death, which they said was high blood pressure, so on 26 September 2014, we asked the police to carry out a post-mortem to verify this claim. However, in their post-mortem report, the police indicated that the body had signs of severe assault, which resulted in internal bleeding.
“In view of this report, we kindly ask your Office to help our family have closure on the death of our son, by helping us get legal intervention against his killers. We don’t want this case to fade away without proper explanation and compensation from the LDF. We were only expecting our child to graduate from the LDF training and get employed
According to Letsoapo’s post-mortem report, he died because of “massive internal haemorrhage (bleeding)”.
The report continues: “The external appearance was swollen testicles and minor scratch wounds on the back and massive subcutaneous bleeding from the chest wall down to the abdominal wall, suggestive of traumatic injuries. The lungs and pleural sacs sustained subcutaneous haemothhorax and the second rib, was fractured. There was massive peritoneal sac bleeding, as well as multiple haemorrhages on the omentum and intestines. The gallbladder was raptured, with the bile in the abdominal cavity also staining the liver and the spleen. There was also haematoma of the left and right kidney and on the urinary bladder and subcutaneous bleeding in the scrotal cavity”.
According to Moloi Mphuraleli, all the family needs is “the truth” in order to find closure regarding their son.
“The LDF officers who came to my house to inform me about my son’s death said he was sick and had high blood pressure. They did not specify how he was diagnosed with the illness,” Mr Mphuraleli said.
“It also came as a shock to us because when my son left home for training, he was very healthy and growing up, he never had high blood pressure. The officers never gave us details of my boy’s death and illness, and were also not able to answer the questions I asked them about my son’s death.
“My family and I decided to take the corpse for a post-mortem in order to get answers and the report verified that the army had been misleading us about how he had died.
“I want an honest explanation from the LDF about my son; my family is traumatised about the loss because we still don’t know why my son was assaulted to death, because based on the post-mortem, he was severely beaten up.
“A true account of what happened might bring closure to us, which is why I decided to approach the Ministry of Defence to get assistance and advice on how to deal with the issue. We would also want guidance on how to get legal representation in the matter because we are simple people with no money to hire lawyers. But we will not rest until the issue is properly explained.”
Contacted for comment last week, the Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary, Thato Mohasoa, confirmed receiving the letter from the Mphuraleli family.
“My Office received the letter from the Mphuraleli family, and in turn, I wrote to Police Headquarters and asked for the release of Mr Letsoapo Mphuraleli’s post-mortem report, which I duly received,” Mr Mohasoa said.
“I have not yet studied the report and once I’ve gone through it, I am going to copy my evaluation to the LDF authorities and we will take it from there.
“Having said that, Mr Letsapo Mphuraleli’s death has not yet been reported to the Minister of Defence, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, which means he does not know anything about that man’s death.”
He continued: “Administratively, when a soldier dies, the Minister should be officially informed about the matter and Mr Letsapo Mphuraleli’s death indicates that the LDF no longer works with the Defence Ministry the way it is supposed to. Right now, the LDF has an attitude of making statements over the media and officially, they are not telling the Ministry anything. This attitude brings serious concern to the Ministry.”
LDF Spokesperson, Major Ntlele Ntoi refused to comment on the issue, and told this reporter: “I was misquoted in one of your articles, so we should just go our separate ways because you seem to be on a campaign to tarnish the image of the LDF.”