Police contradict army over shootout
THE Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) has maintained its members guarding the Khubetsoana home of Acting Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, on the night of 30 September were provoked by soldiers, leading to a shootout and injury of two senior police officers.
In a statement released on Friday, the LMPS stated: “On the aforementioned day, three police officers who were on duty at Mr Mphaka’s residence saw a white 4×4 vehicle that had no registration number, passing near his home several times. Police investigations have revealed that the vehicle belongs to the Ministry of Local Government, even though it did not have registration plates. The vehicle was also damaged during the shooting. Investigations also revealed that the vehicle’s registration is Y1845.
“Investigations have revealed that four heavily armed men who were wearing Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) uniform arrived at Mr Mphaka’s home and approached the LMPS members, and asked what they were doing at his home. When they approached our members, the soldiers were in a fighting mood. They had a fierce argument, which then led to a gun battle.
“Members of the LMPS then reported the shooting to their authorities, and asked for reinforcement. After a while, the Twin Cab that had been passing Mr Mphaka’s residence several times, then came with more LDF members, adding to the four who had come first, and soon after, more soldiers joined in.
“Two members of the police, who had come after they had been alerted of the fighting, were injured in the shootout. One was taken to Makoanyane Hospital, while the other was ferried to Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital where they are being treated. Police are doing further investigations on the matter.”
Meanwhile, the LDF on Wednesday issued a statement outlining its own version of the shootout. According to the statement dated 1 October, and issued by spokesperson Major Ntele Ntoi, the shootout was sparked by LMPS members and directed at the home of one of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s bodyguards.
Major Ntoi said: “The Lesotho Defence Force Command informs the Basotho nation at large about the unfortunate attack which occurred in Khubetsoana, Maseru, on the night of 30 September, 2014.
“The attack was directed at the family of the bodyguard of the Deputy Prime Minister. Preliminary reports suggest the bodyguard received a tip-off from members of his family about a strange vehicle with no registration numbers that was parked adjacent to his house and armed men surrounding the home. As a result, he was escorted home by his colleague. Upon arriving near his home, they came under a hail of bullets from a group of men who had already positioned themselves near the house.
“It is against this background that he and his colleague fired back, whilst at the same time, called for assistance from military bases. It was at this time that the attackers on board four vehicles ambushed a group of soldiers who had come to reinforce them, thereby firing from different directions.
“The soldiers returned fire and suppressed this group of bandits who, in turn took to their heels, leaving behind the following equipment and items: Four vehicles of the following models; White Toyota 4 x 4 Twin Cab and registration number Y 1064 found next to the home of the soldier; White Toyota 4 x 4 Single Cab bearing registration number Y 1797; Toyota Quantum bearing Lesotho Police insignia and colours with registration number Y 4350; and White Chevrolet Sedan bearing registration number CL 560.”
According to Major Ntoi, an assortment of weapons was also recovered from the scene of crime.
Major Ntoi also said two LMPS Special Operations Unit (SOU) officers of the ranks of Superintendent and Inspector were wounded and rushed to hospital, after the attack.
“Meanwhile, five policemen who allegedly took part in the attack and took refuge in a nearby house surrendered to the SADC police. In the same house, AK47 automatic assault rifles and ammunition were recovered. In this incident, no injuries were sustained on the part of LDF members. However, there was damage to two LDF vehicles and apart from that, houses and vehicles in the neighbourhood were also damaged,” Major Ntoi said, urging the nation not to be “misled” by claims that the attack was targeted at Acting Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka.
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