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Lawyer says woman suffered humiliation

Sello Morake

MASERU — A woman who has sued the police for torture soiled herself during her ordeal at the hands of Pitso Ground police officers, her lawyer told the High Court on Monday.
Advocate Zwelakhe Mda said his client, Neo Masupha, had suffered great humiliation and inhuman treatment while in police custody.
Masupha, an immigration officer, wants M90 000 as compensation for the alleged torture on October 10 2004.
She had been arrested on suspicions of corrupt dealings at the Van Rooyens border post.
“I put it to you that she was handcuffed, her hands on her back, her face covered with plastic and you kicked her until she soiled herself,” Mda said.
“What would you do if your child was subjected to such humiliation?”
The case was before Justice Gabriel Mofolo.
Trooper Daniel Moepi, who is one of the defendants, denied having tortured Masupha.
Moepi said he and another trooper whose name was only given as Kubutu went to Mafeteng with the plaintiff and asked her to show them where she had burnt “immigration receipt books”.
“We went to Van Rooyens in Mafeteng,” Moepi said. “We wanted her to point out where she had burnt the receipt books.
“I came back to Pitso Ground with the suspects and left them at the station as I went out to refuel our vehicle.”
Moepi said he left the plaintiff together with one Seselia, another immigration officer who was also suspected of being involved in corrupt dealings at the border post, at the police station.
“When we returned, we went to Senior Superintendent Lebasa to report what we had done and discovered,” he said.
“The accused had pointed out to us where she had burnt the receipt books.”
Moepi said he had been ordered to drive Kubutu — who was the investigating officer — to Mafeteng and that he was not involved in the investigation of the case.
“I never assaulted her or tied her or put plastic over her face like what is being alleged,” he said.
“I’m stationed at Quthing Police Station but I’m a student at Limkokwing (university).”
Justice Mofolo then asked: “Bloemfontein, Limkokwing . . .  what is that? Really I don’t know what it is.”
His remarks were met with laughter from the public gallery, despite the gravity of the case.
Moepi denied having interrogated the plaintiff and also rejected claims he had told Masupha she would never bear children.
“She could possibly know my name because we introduced ourselves to her, so it’s not surprising that she knows me but I never assaulted her,” he said.
Moepi said when he left the accused at Pitso Ground there were some people at the station.
“Kubutu can answer why I was not there. I can’t say what Kubutu said,” he said.
“I believe that covering someone’s mouth is a savage way of treating people.”
Moepi added that he did not know whether or not Masupha had lacerations and swellings on her hands.
“When we left Mafeteng, she was not handcuffed,” he said.
“I don’t know if she passed out and soiled herself.
“It’s humiliating, not only to the plaintiff and I wouldn’t want my child to be subjected to that kind of treatment.”
Moepi said all he knew was that Masupha was put in a holding cell.
“I recall we went to collect her and she never resisted. But she was not handcuffed to Seselia,” he said.
Masupha said she was still angry at her alleged torturers and wanted the world to know how some Lesotho police officers treated people in their custody.
“In Lesotho, there is no presumption of innocence until one is proven guilty by a competent court, but you are guilty the moment the police arrest you,” she said.
“Being in a cell was much better than being in the hands of Moepi, who kept on lying in the court.”

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