Tefo Tefo/ ’Marafaele Mohloboli
LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli has revoked his letter calling upon the detained Captain Seabata Chaka to “show cause” why he should not be dismissed from the army.
In the “show cause” letter, Lt-Gen Kamoli wanted Captain Chaka to explain why he should not be dismissed on the grounds he allegedly disrespected the army commander in a missive his lawyers wrote seeking his release from detention on medical grounds.
Captain Chaka is among the 23 LDF members who were arrested between May and June 2015 for allegedly plotting to violently remove the LDF command. Seven of the soldiers have since been released from Maseru Maximum Security Prison and placed under open arrest, which is a form of bail in the military. The other 16, including Captain Chaka, remain in detention.
Captain Chaka’s lawyers, Legal Link Chambers on 13 September 2016 wrote a letter to Lt-Gen Kamoli requesting the former’s release so he can be placed under open arrest.
Part of the letter reads: “The above mentioned client has been detained from sometime in June 2015 after being allegedly implicated in the offence of mutiny.
“At the time the client was already suffering from a severe osteoa theritis (sic) and anchiosed (sic) hip.
“This health status has been exacerbated by the detention and as a result he is poised for operation at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital by the 18th October 2016.
“While we understand that the client is accused of a very serious military offence and that it falls wholly within the administrative discretion whether to afford the liberty of the client on the grounds of ill-health we still humbly request you sir to reconsider the detention of the client given the above alluded facts.”
In the letter, the lawyers emphasize the need for Captain Chaka’s release so that his family could take care of him.
“It is further our humble view that though we cannot confess expertise in the field of medicine, but the client’s ill health is very critical and needs the proper care in the family environment.
“It is on the basis of the above that we humbly request that you find it in your heart to exercise your discretion conferred to you by virtue of being the commander of LDF to release the client into his family for proper care on conditions that will best your operations,” reads part of the letter.
The letter also contains some Sesotho words that could be translated as suggesting that there are no permanent enemies and that the army commander is vested with the administrative powers over the entire army.
However, this part seemed to have angered Lt-Gen Kamoli as he responded with a “show cause” letter to Captain Chaka on the basis of the Sesotho version of the letter.
In his missive dated 26 September 2016, Lt-Gen Kamoli noted he had a feeling the Sesotho version referred to him as Captain Chaka’s enemy, while part of it seemed to “belittle” the army commander.
“Whereas in your request, you made a strong comment to the effect that, ‘Sesotho Sere ha hona sera sa moshoelella ke ka hona re kopang ka tsela ena. Re kopa o shebe litaba tsena ka leihlo la mohau joalokaha o a pesitsoe matla a ho alosa sesole ‘me bohle ha le boliseng ba hao’, referring to the Commander Defence Force as your enemy and suggesting to him that ‘o apesitsoe matla a ho alosa sesole’ in a disrespectful manner; being a serious accusation made against the Commander and a comment calculated to belittle the Commander and sounds you are not acknowledging his position,” read part of the letter.
Lt-Gen Kamoli also stated that it was not in the interest of the LDF to have Captain Chaka within the army.
“. . . it is not in the best interest of the Lesotho Defence Force for you to remain in the force, you are a security risk to the state.”
Captain Chaka then lodged an urgent application before the High Court on 30 September 2016 seeking to block his looming dismissal by the army commander.
In his notice of motion, Captain Chaka sought an order declaring that Lt-Gen Kamoli had “no authority in law to terminate the services and or discharge applicant from defence force services”.
But in a new turn of events, the army authorities now want to settle the matter out of court.
In support of the new development, Lt-Gen Kamoli on 7 October 2016 wrote another letter to Captain Chaka revoking the “show cause” letter.
Part of the letter reads: “Be informed that the show cause notice letter dated 26th September 2016 is hereby revoked.”
This was also confirmed yesterday by Captain Chaka’s lawyer, Advocate ‘Mole Khumalo.
He said the revocation letter was an undertaking by the army to settle the matter out of court.
“They want to settle the matter out of court and we are meeting on Monday (tomorrow) to discuss the issue because all we want is that the anticipated dismissal be reconsidered,” Advocate Khumalo said.
If all parties reach an agreement, it means there would be no need to argue the case in court.
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