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Mokhosi flees to exile

Ngoni Muzofa

FORMER Defence minister, Tšeliso Mokhosi, has fled the country, joining other exiled opposition leaders who have cited assassination plots and alleged persecution by the government.

Mr Mokhosi, who is also Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) deputy leader, fled the country on Thursday according to the party’s spokesperson Teboho Sekata.

Mr Mokhosi was arrested on 28 August this year and charged with the murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng along with four police officers.

He was remanded in custody and successfully applied for bail in the High Court on 1 September 2017.

However, Mr Mokhosi remained in custody at the Maseru Central Correctional institute due to a legal technicality whereby the Magistrate’s Court had to notify him that the upper court had granted him bail.

The former minister was eventually released last Monday, after being ordered to pay M1 000 as bail deposit. He was also ordered to attend remands and stand his trial to finality.

Mr Mokhosi issued a statement two days later accusing the police of forcing him to confess to killing PC Khetheng while being interrogated.

Mr Mokhosi also accused the law enforcement agency of torturing him and coercing him to make a false statement before the Magistrates’ Court about the circumstances surrounding PC Khetheng’s death.

The Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has vehemently denied the allegations, saying the agency does not torture suspects.

LMPS spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, said Mr Mokhosi should have alerted the magistrate of the alleged torture and death threats “if they were true”.

PC Khetheng was reburied last month in his home district of Mokhotlong after the four officers’ arrest and interrogation by a special police investigating team yielded information on the whereabouts of his remains.

PC Khetheng’s remains had been exhumed at the Lepereng cemetery in the outskirts of Maseru, which is used to bury unclaimed corpses.

He had last been seen alive while being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016. PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

PC Khetheng’s disappearance had prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.

The other accused in the case are Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu, Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona, Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo.

Mr Mokhosi joins in exile LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing and Democratic Congress deputy leader Mathibeli Mokhothu.

Mr Metsing fled the country last month citing a tip-off from a “trusted source” about a plot to assassinate him. Mr Mokhothu skipped the country a week later citing “suspicious vehicles” at his home and alleging persecution by the government of opposition leaders.

Communications Minister Joang Molapo has since rubbished Mr Mokhothu’s claims, saying the government would not achieve anything in persecuting the opposition.

Chief Molapo, however, stressed that the police would continue to probe crimes allegedly committed by some politicians without fear or favour.

This was echoed by Insp Mopeli, who said the law enforcement agency was following evidence of criminality and not targeting the government’s opponents as claimed by Mr Mokhothu.

Asked if Mr Mokhosi was at the same hideout as Mr Metsing, Mr Sekata said the LCD deputy leader was “in another location”.

Ntate Mokhosi is running away from the police who wanted to assassinate him,” Mr Sekata said.

Insp Mopeli was unaware of the development when contacted yesterday by the Sunday Express. However, he denied Mr Sekata’s claim that the LMPS wanted to kill Mr Mokhosi.

“That claim is preposterous. It was never our intention to kill Ntate Mokhosi, but to investigate him on the charge he is facing,” he said.

He also refuted the claim that Mr Mokhosi was tortured, urging the party to lodge an official complaint with

When asked if Mr Mokhosi had flouted the terms of his bail in skipping the country, Insp Mopeli said it was up to the courts of law to make that determination since he was now awaiting trial.

 

 

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