Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Lehohla should apologise

Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla is a respectable politician but he must differentiate between politicking and reality.

Or he will forever be remembered as a dishonest politician.

During a parliamentary session last Thursday, Lehohla was asked by the Lesotho Workers’ Party MP, Sello Maphala, “to shed light to this Honourable House on the cases of police brutality, unlawful persecution of the public and acts of criminality performed by some members of the police service from 2007 to-day”.

Maphalla merely wanted Lehohla, as the minister of home affairs, to answer if — among other things — police officers are torturing suspects.

Maphalla wanted the deputy prime minister to quantify the money that the government has paid in compensation to victims who have successfully sued the police for torture, assault, as well as unlawful arrest and detention.

But in a startling response, Lehohla flatly denied that there had been cases of police torturing suspects.

“There are no police stations involved in such activities as brutality and persecution of public members,” Lehohla replied in what sounded like a response he had prepared in advance.

“There are no police officers involved in such acts in the LMPS,” he continued.

“Therefore, it is imperative that there cannot be claims which result from such acts as there have never been committed or reported; hence the government has never paid any amount in that respect.”

Such a denial is astonishing, especially given the overwhelming evidence showing that police have indeed been involved in torturing and brutalising suspects. 

Surely Lehohla, who is also in charge of the police by virtue of being home affairs minister, should have known that he was misleading parliament and the nation.

His was a response laden with shocking omissions and what sounded like a deliberate attempt to duck the truth for political expediency.

Our journalist did not need to break a sweat to establish that the deputy prime minister had been “economical” with the truth. 

If Lehohla is in doubt that he misled parliament then he should simply check with the Police Complaints Authority, a government body which deals with the public complaints against the police.

There, he will find that in 2007 the authority investigated eight cases in which individuals were complaining against police torture and brutality.

Investigations into all these cases, which included seven of assault and one of murder, showed that police were culpable. 

In 2008 the authority received four complaints from individuals and their investigations, again, revealed that the police had used excessive force against individuals.

The following year there were 10 cases and the authority has completed investigations into six of these.

Again the police were found to have been in the wrong.

The same applies to five of the 12 cases that the authority investigated last year.

Lehohla can also check with courts where there are numerous cases in which the police are being sued for torture, assault, brutality and unlawful arrest.

At the last count there were more than 50 cases in which individuals are suing the police.

Some individuals have won their cases.

In November last year one Morie Motiane was awarded M250 000 in damages after he sued the police for torture and medical costs. This year alone the High Court has awarded one Ngaka Makebe M200 000 in damages for the assault that he suffered while in police custody.

There is also one Tseliso Sekaleli who successfully sued the police for M200 000 for the torture he suffered at the hands of the police.

As we write the police are negotiating a deed of settlement with one Samuel Kane whom they tortured in August 2008.

The police have already admitted that Kane was tortured but they are still haggling over the quantum of the damages.

Lehohla owes the nation an apology.

Otherwise he risks destroying the clean reputation that he has built over the past 30 years.

Comments are closed.