MASERU — The Lithoteng Police Station, which is headed by Senior Inspector Lenkoane Lenkoane, has a reputation of using brute force when interrogating crime suspects.
The station is known to use crude interrogation methods akin to those practised by the South African police during apartheid.
Several cases of the police officers at the station using boots, sticks and gun butts to force crime suspects to confess are rampant.
In some cases victims have been suffocated with tyre tubes and plastic bags.
Others have been tightly cuffed for hours while being interrogated.
Still others have been held in dirty and wet cells for days without being charged.
The result is that people are terrified by the prospect of being held at the Lithoteng police station.
Take for instance a 25-year-old man in March last year allegedly opted to hang himself after he saw officers from Lithoteng police station coming to arrest him.
It is alleged that when he saw the police he rushed to a neighbour’s house where he hanged himself.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha (right) said the man was wanted in connection with the theft of two laptops from the National University of Lesotho.
In February 2011, the Lithoteng police allegedly severely battered a suspect, detained him in holding cells for four days and demanded that his wife pay a bribe to secure his release.
The suspect, Tšeliso Thatjane, 25, told the Lesotho Times then that the police used a knobkerrie to hit him on the buttocks and on the back to force him to confess that he had stolen a television and a DVD player.
He said they had also suffocated him with a plastic bag until he lost consciousness.
The police had also dunked his head into a plastic bag full of water until he lost consciousness again.
One of the police officers who tortured him, he said, was reeking of alcohol.
“I cried out aloud asking them to show mercy but they responded with more violence,” Thatjane said.
One of them used his booted feet to pin his head down while he held his hands so the others could beat him.
All the while they demanded that he admits to stealing the television and the DVD player.
He said when he did not confess a female police officer announced that he “should kiss a black lady”.
The “black lady” turned out to be a black plastic bag which was used to suffocate the suspect until he lost consciousness.
When he regained consciousness his tormenters suffocated him with the plastic bag again until he passed out for the second time.
The police took M500 from his wife, ’Masebabatso, but they did not release him until she hired a lawyer who applied for his immediate release at the magistrate’s court.