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Retired soldier cries foul


Tšeliso MonaphathiBrian Chiwanza

A retired soldier appeared in the High Court on Wednesday demanding more than M100 000 from the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in pension and gratuity.

Private Leshoboro Letsie told High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, that his retirement benefits were five-years in arrears as he had served 21 years and not 16 as indicated by the LDF.

Mr Letsie says he joined the army in 1979 and retired in 2000. He is claiming M73, 462 33 in pension arrears as well as M25, 581 19 outstanding gratuity “and continuing pension underpayment” since 2011.

The LDF commander and Attorney General are first and second defendant, respectively.

Mr Letsie was represented by Advocate Letuka Molati while Advocate Mafikeng Mohoeshoe appeared for the Crown.

Advocate Molati submitted before the court that in 1984, his client went on unpaid study leave and upon completion of his training at Lerotholi Polytechnic, immediately resumed work in 1989.

“He was still paid with the same original number as before until he received an LDF medal for long service and good conduct,” he said.

However, according to evidence by defence witness, a Major Lesie, the complainant resigned in August 1984 and was reinstated in 1989.

But Advocate Molati argued his client never left the LDF.

“There is no letter of resignation of the plaintiff in the army’s files; no confirmation of resignation that is signed by the commander of the LDF.

“Forced orders without originals, which are the foundation of the defence, are not signed by Major General Metsing Lekhanya, who was then the commander of the LDF,” Advocate Molati said.

“We submit, therefore, that it is imperative the defendants produce proof that the plaintiff did apply in writing to resign and that the LDF commander accepted the resignation.”

In his opposing heads of argument, Adv Moshoeshoe, said the defendant resigned, and was not granted study leave as he states.

“Don’t you recall that you resigned in 1984? After finishing your studies at Lerotholi Polytechnic during the alleged study leave, did you go back to work? You had resigned, but we found you working at National Motors,” he said.

Justice Monaphathi immediately interjected after this statement, asking: “If he had indeed resigned, why was the army after him since he was no longer in the LDF? Why did they discover him if he had resigned in August 2014? And if he had deserted, why not take action?”

Adv Moshoeshoe then told judge Monaphathi the answer was “painful” because “he was told to go back to work, kicking and screaming, and that is his testimony.

“He was only given the same Force Number because of maladministration.”

However, Advocate Molati was not through with Adv Moshoeshoe.

He said: “You made a mistake of giving out a wrong medal of service; you made another mistake of not changing the Force Number. All the facts are overwhelming. The simple reality is that the man ought to be treated as a soldier who served his country faithfully.”

Meanwhile, Justice Monaphathi reserved judgment in the case.



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