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Man demands M4 million for torture

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

A MASERU man is demanding M4 million compensation from the police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, after he was allegedly tortured by police officers in Maseru in July this year.

The man, Paseka Chele, has also demanded that the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) disciplines the police officers who tortured him.

Mr Chele recently told the Sunday Express that he was unceremoniously bundled into police vehicle on 7 July by five police officers before being taken to a police station near Setsoto Stadium. He said upon arrival at the police station, he was interrogated over the illegal possession of a gun before tortured.

“I met my neighbour at a local off-sales in Borokhoaneng, Maseru who informed me that I was wanted by the police,” Mr Chele said.

“I asked my neighbour to call them as they had come to my place in my absence. Within three minutes they had arrived in a Nissan twin cab and there were five of them. They were armed and they did not identify themselves.

“They said they were looking for a Galil rifle that was in my possession. Even though I told them that I did not own such a gun I was handcuffed, forced into their car before they drove off without my consent.”

He said he was taken to the police station near the Setsoto Stadium where he was interrogated and tortured.

“I was given a 20-litre tin can to sit on. I was surrounded by 10 police officers, three of them women and seven men. They said they knew that I had a Galil rifle and I should surrender it to them. I told them I did not have any gun. My hands and feet were tied with a rope.

“One police officer sat on my shoulders as I lay on the ground. He covered my face with a tyre tube and a plastic bag filled with water. I peed myself. One officer said they would not stop until I defecated.”

Mr Chele said that during his torture ordeal, two men and a woman were brought into the room and they identified him as the person who was in possession of the rifle that the police  were looking for.

He said he recognised the trio from their first meeting when they visited his house to hire his Nissan Elgrand van which he refused to lease to them.

“One of them people told the police that I had the Galil rifle and they had come to my house to collect it. That was utter rubbish.

“I did not have the gun and we never talked about lending them a gun. They come to house to hire my vehicle for church purposes. I refused because I had lent them my car before and they failed to pay up.”

Mr Chele said the torture left him in severe pain.

“I could not stand on my own. My hands were numb and bleeding so much that I could not hold a pen when they told me to sign a detention form. I spent the whole weekend in the cell and no one ever touched me again nor was I ever interrogated.”

He said that he was released three days later without being charged or given any explanation.

“I have never heard anything from the police ever since that day. This is a sign that I did not have what they were looking for. I have never owned such a gun and I have no criminal case. I had never been in a police cell before that incident.”

Mr Chele has since written to Commissioner Molibeli seeking compensation for kidnapping, unlawful arrest and torture.

“I don’t know how to sincerely portray the way I feel about this blatant disregard of basic human rights, unconstitutional treatment of citizens, unprofessional conduct of the police, and the way I feel about the people who are supposed to protect and serve.

“I am asking for reparations of M4 million and disciplinary action against the 10 police officers failing which I will take the matter to the courts against the Commissioner and individually humiliate and drain the policemen who kidnapped, tortured, and humiliated me,” part of Mr Chele’s letter dated 10 September reads.

Police Spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli professed ignorance of Mr Chele’s demands and letter.


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