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Kamoli faces multiple charges


Staff Reporters

FORMER Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli, is “highly likely” to be charged tomorrow for multiple crimes committed under his watch by the military.

Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli yesterday told the Sunday Express Lt-Gen Kamoli was, among others, likely to be charged for the fatal shooting of police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the 30 August 2014 attempted coup against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

“The possibility (of Lt-Gen Kamoli being charged) is very high,” he said.

When asked to specify the charges, Commissioner Molibeli said: “A lot of them. The issue of Sub-Inspector Ramahloko is likely to be one of them.”

Lt-Gen Kamoli handed himself over to the police on Wednesday after being summoned to assist with investigations into crimes committed during his four-year tenure at the helm of the LDF.

Lt-Gen Kamoli was appointed as LDF commander by then premier Pakalitha Mosisili in 2012. Lt-Gen Kamoli was eventually retired by Dr Mosisili in December 2016, after the latter had returned to power. This was after Lesotho’s development partners, such as the United States, had threatened to withdraw aid if he remained at the helm of the LDF.

On Friday, the police were granted more time to interrogate Lt-Gen Kamoli by the Magistrate’s Court until midday tomorrow. A slew of charges are expected to be laid against him before the end of the deadline.

The police brought Lt-Gen Kamoli to the Magistrate’s Court when they applied for the further detention order on Friday morning. Sources at the court told this publication that Lt-Gen Kamoli was not handcuffed when he appeared before the magistrate, although he was flanked by a coterie of security personnel.

Lt-Gen Kamoli’s lawyer, Letuka Molati, told the Sunday Express on Friday that his client had not been ill-treated while in custody as of Friday afternoon.

“I can assure you that since my client was detained up to Friday at lunch time when I last made contact with him, I was content and am proud to say that he has not been subjected to any form of torture,” said Advocate Letuka.

“The investigators handling this case have been very professional in their conduct. There have not been any incidents of ill-treatment or torture. This is something that needs to be applauded.”

A number of LDF members have already been arrested as the government intensifies the prosecution of people implicated in various unresolved crimes especially in the military.

The prosecutions are in line with Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry recommendations for ensuring lasting peace in the instability-prone Kingdom.

Three LDF members were last month charged with murdering Sub-Inspector Ramahloko before being remanded in custody.

Captain Litekanyo Nyakane (38), Lance Corporal Motloheloa Ntsane (34) and Lance Corporal Leutsoa Motsieloa (31) were charged with contravening provisions of section 40(1) of the Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010.

According to the charge sheet, the trio fatally shot Sub-Inspector Ramahloko on the chest on 30 August 2014.

Sub-Inspector Ramahloko was killed during a predawn LDF raid on three Maseru police stations which the military claimed was meant to foil a Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) plan to arm civilians but widely dismissed as an attempt to topple a sitting government.

The 30 August 2014 raid was conducted soon after Dr Thabane, who had come to power after the May 2012 elections, fired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli as head of the LDF.

Lt-Gen Kamoli refused to go and deployed soldiers to raid and seize arms from police stations around Maseru.  Lt Gen Kamoli accused the LMPS of planning to give civilians firearms for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) street protest that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.

LCD leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, who was deputy prime Minister in Dr Thabane’s first coalition had fallen out of favour with the premier and the party had arranged a protest against the government it was part of.

The LMPS has since denied allegations it had ever planned to arm civilians and Dr Thabane fled the country after receiving a tip off that his life was in danger. He would then only return the next month under heavy South African police guard.

The attempted putsch triggered a chain of events that led to the eventual collapse of Dr Thabane’s first government and the intervention of SADC to prevent all out chaos.

Sources privy to the matter told the Sunday Express’s sister publication, Lesotho Times, that Lt-Gen Kamoli was also interrogated over other unresolved crimes, including the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

As part of investigations into the attacks, the police had requested to interview eight LDF members, but Lt-Gen Kamoli refused to surrender the soldiers.

The sources said Lt-Gen Kamoli was also grilled over the 25 June 2015 killing of former army commander Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao.

Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead by his erstwhile colleagues who claimed he resisted arrest for allegedly leading a mutiny against the army command.

However, a SADC Commission of Inquiry established to probe the circumstances surrounding Lt-Gen Mahao’s death deemed the mutiny allegations “highly suspect”.

The Mahao family also accused the LDF of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

The sources also revealed that Lt-Gen Kamoli was interrogated over the 10 May 2014 killing of Lisebo Tang and maiming of her male companion, Tšepo Jane, by soldiers guarding his Ha-Leqele residence.

Ms Tang was shot dead when the car she was sitting in with Mr Jane was peppered with bullets by LDF members guarding the home of Lt-Gen Kamoli. She died on the scene of shooting, with Mr Jane sustaining serious injuries and taken to the Makoanyane Military Hospital. A police report stated that the vehicle in which they were sitting was shot 123 times by the soldiers guarding Lt-Gen Kamoli’s premises.

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