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Herdsman sues police for M500 000

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — A Mants’onyane herdsman claims a prosecutor and a police officer connived to swindle him out of his 15 sheep after they staged a fake trial and “convicted” him for assault.

Teboho Mpeoa says in November last year the policeman, only identified as Kotelo, arrested him and took him to the prosecutor after he had had an altercation with another villager, Bolae Siile.

Once inside the prosecutor’s office at the Thaba Tseka Magistrate’s Court, Mpeoa was told it was a court of law and he was now on trial for allegedly trying to murder Siile.

The prosecutor, only identified as Letuka, allegedly told Mpeoa that he was a magistrate.

Siile was called in as a witness and the police officer allegedly gave evidence against him.

After a brief “trial”, Mpeoa alleges, the prosecutor said he had reached a verdict.

He allegedly ordered Mpeoa to pay Siile 15 sheep as compensation to avoid further detention and being jailed for a long time.

Mpeoa also claims that he was ordered to sign a document transferring the ownership of his livestock to Siile.

He says he reported the matter to Thaba-Tseka police commander Shekhoe Sebutsoe who immediately called the Mants’onyane commander and told him to order Kotelo to make sure that the sheep were returned.

But the sheep have not yet been returned to Mpeoa.

Mpeoa is now suing Police Commissioner ’Malejaka Letooane and Justice Minister Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa for over M500 000.

He says the actions of the prosecutor and the police officer caused him to suffer and prejudiced him of earnings.

His lawyer, Tekane Maqakachane, has since submitted the letter of demand to both the commissioner of police and the justice minister.

Letooane received Mpeoa’s letter of demand on Wednesday last week while Mahase-Moiloa received hers the following day.

The Sunday Express has a copy of the letter. 

“Our client (Mpeoa) agreed, by force of threats of further detention and imprisonment, to compensate the said Bolae (Siile) by paying 15 sheep,” the letter reads.

“The police and the prosecution office have a clear duty imposed by law to protect our client, which duty they have failed to discharge.”

Mpeoa says the police and the justice ministry should pay him M150 000 for infringement of dignity and privacy rights.

The police and justice ministry should each pay M80 000 for breaching their duty to protect him, he claims in his letter of demand.

Mpeoa is claiming M22 500 for loss of the 15 sheep saying he was going to sell each of them for M1 500.

The price of a sheep is usually between M800 and M1 500.

He is also claiming M107 000 for loss of prospective profits in wool which he says he was going to harvest from his flock for the next 10 years.

Mpeoa wants to be paid M55 000 as compensation for the mutton he could have sold had he slaughtered the sheep.

For the prospective profits he was going to get over the next 10 years from the sale of milk from the sheep he wants M20 000.

Mpeoa also wants to be paid M20 000 for loss of amenities of life such as dung, which is used as fuel for cooking and household heating.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha however said he did not know anything about Mpeoa’s claim.

“I do not know anything about this claim,” Masupha said.

The Sunday Express can reveal that Maqakachane met the police’s legal department last Thursday to discuss the issue.

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