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Soldiers assault police officer at prison


army-bootsKeiso Mohloboli

A POLICE Special Operations Unit (SOU) Lance Sergeant, Mohapi Kapoko, was allegedly assaulted on Thursday by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members at Maseru Maximum Security Prison while visiting his brother who is among soldiers detained at the facility.

Private Molefi Kapoko was arrested by the army amid accusations of plotting a mutiny against the LDF command.

The alleged assault took place on the same day Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Acting Commissioner, ‘Matefo Makhalemele, announced striking wardens had resumed their duties after soldiers had taken over manning the prisons.

Some LCS staff had been on go-slow since December last year, protesting government’s failure to review their salaries and rank-structure with government recently acquiescing to their demands.

Police spokesperson, Senior Inspector Clifford Molefe, yesterday confirmed the assault on Lance Sergeant Kapoko to the Sunday Express, saying a criminal case had since been opened with investigations already in progress.

“Lance Sergeant Kapoko came to the police after the assault to report his ordeal,” said Sen Insp Molefe.

“He was served with a medical form by relevant officers for the doctor to fill it up. A criminal case was opened, but I am not able to provide further details of the matter since it is now being investigated.”

Efforts to reach Lance Sergeant Kapoko were fruitless as his mobile phones rang unanswered.

However, the Sunday Express has since learned that Lance Sergeant Kapoko had been accompanied by his elder brother and Private Kapoko’s wife during the ill-fated visit which occurred at 2pm.

The paper’s investigations also revealed that upon arrival at the Maseru Maximum Security Prison, Lance Sergeant Kapoko was allegedly mocked and insulted by an LDF sergeant (name supplied) for being a member of the SOU even though he was not wearing his uniform.

The trio was then allegedly denied the opportunity to see Private Kapoko amid claims by the soldiers that he was exhibiting “a silly attitude”.

Shortly thereafter, a white van, with LDF registration numbers, allegedly raced towards the trio and abruptly stopped. A group of “aggressive” soldiers disembarked from the vehicle and assaulted Lance Sergeant Kapoko and his brother, the Sunday Express further found out.

Despite screams for help by Private Kapoko’s wife, the onslaught allegedly continued. However, sensing an opportunity while the soldiers were holding a meeting, the two Kapoko brothers ran for dear life with their first port of call being Police Headquarters where they reported the incident.

The duo received medical assistance at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital where they were treated as outpatients.

They both sustained severe bruises and fractured ribs from the assault, while Lance Sergeant Kapoko’s left leg was twisted thereby making it difficult for him to walk.

Contacted for comment yesterday, LCS Spokesperson Assistant Superintendent Neo Mopeli said he was not aware of the incident because “even though it might have happened within Maseru Central Prison, the area is part of the military’s facilities”.

“I would advise you to seek further details on the matter from the army,” Ass Sup Mopeli said.

LDF Public Affairs Officer Major Ntlele Ntoi’s phone was unreachable at the time of going to press.

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