LCD haggles with govt over NGOs
THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has refuted the government’s claim of inviting international human rights groups to assess the party’s deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi’s condition while in custody, saying the groups were coming on their own volition.
This was after the LCD had claimed that Mr Mokhosi – a former a Defence and National Security minister in the previous seven-party coalition government – was tortured by police after he was arrested last week on charges of murdering Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng.
This was however, denied by the government whose spokesperson and Communications Minister, Joang Molapo subsequently announced that they had invited International Society of the Red Cross and other organisations to visit the country to see for themselves that Mr Mokhosi was in good health and his rights had not been violated.
Chief Molapo dismissed the opposition’s torture claims, saying government was “saddened and deeply disappointed by such outlandish allegations”.
He said Mr Mokhosi handed himself to the police after having been summoned on several occasions for a purely criminal and not political issue concerning the murder of PC Mokalekale Khetheng.
“During the course of the police inquiries into this matter, Mr Mokhosi emerged as a person of interest. Mr Mokhosi was invited on numerous occasions by the LMPS to make himself available in order to assist the police with their investigations.
“Mr Mokhosi declined these requests until on the 28th August 2017 when the investigating officers made clear to him that unless he came voluntarily he could be arrested.”
Chief Molapo said it was only then that Mr Mokhosi made himself available to the police; adding that “the government wishes to assure the people of Lesotho and the friends and family of Mr Mokhosi that he is being well cared for, he is in excellent health and has been afforded and will continue to be afforded all the rights and privileges required by Lesotho law”.
“We invite Amnesty International, the International Society of the Red Cross and all non-governmental organisations both in Lesotho and outside to visit Mr Mokhosi and satisfy themselves that Mr Mokhosi remains in good health and that all his civil liberties and human rights continue to be respected,” Mr Molapo said, adding, “It’s the view of this government that the matter of Mr Mokhosi is a purely criminal matter that has no political element to it”.
However, LCD Spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, on Friday told the Sunday Express that the organisations were not coming because of the government invitation but after his party wrote to inform them about the current situation in the country where their deputy leader was allegedly tortured in detention.
Mr Sekata said the organisations operated independently of governments and visited any country to make their own assessments of situations.
“There has never been a time where the government invited international organisations such as Amnesty International or Red Cross so we should never be fooled because we have no time to play,” Mr Sekata said.
“It’s true that Amnesty International is coming to Lesotho but it is not because they have been called here by the government.
“We wrote to them last week narrating the incidents that have been happening in the country and they are coming because they saw it fit that they come.”
Meanwhile, Chief Molapo has said the government would soon contact LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing to ascertain his reasons for fleeing the country.
“Government understands and accepts its fundamental responsibility to protect the life of every citizen of Lesotho. This is a responsibility which we take very seriously. We can be associated with any plans to harm Mr Metsing or any other citizen of our country.”
“At this stage, it is unclear what the proposed final destination of Mr Metsing may be. Nonetheless once we have ascertained his location we will through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations contact him and the host government in order to organise a meeting to fully understand the circumstances that may have prompted his departure.”
Chief Molapo added that upon assuming office, the government made an undertaking that no Mosotho would ever need to flee the country, fearing for their life or because of politically motivated persecutions.
“We therefore ask Mr Metsing to engage with the Lesotho government to establish the true reasons for his leaving Lesotho and to cooperate with us in facilitating his safe return,” Chief Molapo added.