Lesotho Times
LDF Chief of Staff, Major General Lineo Poopa

Detained soldiers’ individual charges revealed

 

LDF Chief of Staff, Major General Lineo Poopa
LDF Chief of Staff, Major General Lineo Poopa

Keiso Mohloboli

Twenty-three soldiers detained in Maseru Maximum Security Prison by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) were presented with their individual charges for the first time on Tuesday this week, according to their lawyer, King’s Counsel Advocate Haee Phoofolo.

Brigadier Mareka, Brigadier Poqa Motoa, Colonel Stemere, Colonel Kolisang, Major Makhetha, Captain Chaka, Second Lieutenant Mohasi, Sergeant Mokhobo, Sergeant Semakale, Sergeant Lekhabunyane, Corporal Mokhoro, Corporal Letsilane, Corporal Lipoto, Corporal Manaka, Corporal Mohatlane, Corporal Chele, Corporal Motseko, Lance Corporal Jobo, Lance Corporal Molefi, Lance Corporal Makhooane, Private Pama, Private Bolofo and Private Ralitlemo were arrested by the LDF between May and June this year for allegedly planning to topple the army command.

However, the soldiers had only been aware of the general charge—that of suspected mutiny—but a Court Martial charge sheet signed by LDF Chief of Staff Major General Lineo Poopa on 7 August 2015 outlines individuals’ suspected offences.

The charge sheet, under PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE, gives an outline of the case, and the general charges the soldiers face.

It reads: “During or about the period of September 2014 to May 2015 and at or near Maseru, the accused did wrongfully, unlawfully, intentionally, and without lawful excuse, form a combination with one or more of each other and other members of the LDF, as well as certain persons not subject to the (Lesotho Defence Act 1996) Act, to overthrow or resist lawful authority in the LDF or to impede the performance of any duty or service in the LDF, by conspiring at first to arrest, detain and remove from service, certain officers of the LDF viz Brig Mokaloba, Lt Col Phaila, Lt Col Lekhooa, Maj Ntoi, Maj Sechele, Capt Hashatsi, 2Lt Nyakane and 2Lt Hlehlisi and later kill such officers.

“Such officers were perceived as being supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli, who had not stood down as Commander of the LDF after the then Brig Mahao had been gazetted as Commander on 29 August 2014.

“Communication between the conspirators place in personal encounters, telephonically and by instant messaging (Whatsapp).

“It was contemplated by the conspirators that the arrests would involve the use of LDF armoured vehicles but such vehicles did not become available because of heightened security measures in regard to them.

“The objective of the conspiracy subsequently changed to encompass the killing of such officers, commencing with an attack on Brig Mokaloba.

“As there was reluctance amongst the conspirators to use LDF weapons for the purpose of the attack, attempts were made to obtain weapons from other sources, including Lesotho Mounted Police Service, but it was nevertheless also contemplated that LDF weapons would be employed should other weapons not come to hand.

“The movements of Brig Mokaloba were observed and a suitable spot for the attack on him was identified, but the attack did not take place as he happened to be out of Lesotho at the time.

“A further meeting to further arrange the attack on Brig Mokaloba was forestalled when the conspiracy was uncovered and arrests of some of the conspirators commenced on 14 May 2015.

“The presently known participation of the individuals accused in the mutiny is as follows:

Accused No 1 (Brig Mareka)

Attended meetings with, inter alios, Col Nkeli, Bri Motoa (A2), Col Stemere (A3), Col Kolisang (A4) and Maj Lichaba at the Ratjomose Barracks during the period October 2014 – February 2015 where the arrest and removal of officers seen as supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli was discussed and agreed upon for the purpose of removing Lt Gen Kamoli. In May 2015, attended meeting at Ratjomose Barracks with A2, A3, A4, Lt Col Matlali, Lt Col Mohale and Col Nkeli where the changed plan to kill, instead arrest, the officers was discussed.

Accused No 2 (Brig Motoa)

Attended meetings with, inter alios, A1, A3, A4, Col Nkeli and Maj Lichaba at the Ratjomose Barracks during the period October 2014 – February 2015 where the arrest and removal of officers seen as supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli was discussed and agreed upon for the purpose of removing Lt Gen Kamoli. Had meeting with A3, A4, and Maj Lichaba at Ratjomose in February 2015 regarding the arrest of officers. In May 2015, attended meeting at Ratjomose Barracks with A2, A3, A4, Lt Col Matlali, Lt Col Mohale and Col Nkeli where they changed plan to kill instead of arrest, the officers was discussed.

Accused No 3 (Col Stemere)

Attended meetings with, inter alios, A1, A3, A4, Col Nkeli, and Maj Lichaba at the Ratjomose Barracks during the period October 2014 – February 2015 where the arrest and removal of officers seen as supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli was discussed and agreed upon for the purpose of removing Lt Gen Kamoli. Had meeting with A2, A4, and Maj Lichaba at Ratjomose in February 2015 regarding the arrest of officers. In May 2015, attended meeting at Ratjomose Barracks with A2, A4,  Lt Col Matlali, Lt Col Mohale and Col Nkeli where the changed plan to kill, instead arrest, the officers was discussed.

 

Accused No 4 (Col Kolisang)

Attended meetings with, inter alios, A1, A3, A4, Col Nkeli, and Maj Lichaba at the Ratjomose Barracks during the period October 2014 – February 2015 where the arrest and removal of officers seen as supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli was discussed and agreed upon for the purpose of removing Lt Gen Kamoli. Had meeting with A2, A3, and Maj Lichaba at Ratjomose in February 2015 regarding the arrest of officers. In May 2015, attended meeting at Ratjomose Barracks with A2, A3, Lt Col Matlali, Lt Col Mohale and Col Nkeli where the changed plan to kill, instead arrest, the officers was discussed.

Attended meetings with, inter alios, Col Nkeli and Maj Lichaba at the Ratjomose Barracks during the period October 2014 – February 2015 where the arrest and removal of officers seen as supportive of Lt Gen Kamoli was discussed and agreed upon for the purpose of removing Lt Gen Kamoli. Had meeting with A3, A4, and Maj Lichaba at Ratjomose in February 2015 regarding the arrest of officers. In May 2015, attended meeting at Ratjomose Barracks with A2, A3, A4, Lt Col Matlali, Lt Col Mohale and Col Nkeli where they changed plan to kill instead arrest, the officers was discussed.

Accused No 5 (Maj Makhetha)

Present at meeting, with Lt Col Matlali and 2Lt Monne at Makoanyane Barracks in early May 2015, when the plan to kill the officers was discussed.

Accused No 6 (Capt Chaka)

Met with L/Cpl Motene and 2Lt Monne at Makoanyane Barracks in early May 2015 and approved a reconnaissance of the location for proposed attack on Brig Mokaloba and later the attack itself, which did not, however, take place because of the absence of Brig Mokaloba from Lesotho. Also engaged with a civilian member in the conspiracy involved in the provision of weapons for the planned attack.

Accused No 7 (2Lt Mohasi)

Was engaged with 2Lt Talasi in regard to the plot to apprehend Brig Mokaloba during February 2015.

Accused No 8 (Sgt Mokhobo)

In February 2015, met with Cpl Makara at Makoanyane Barracks and discussed the arrest of officers, including Brig Mokaloba, on the arrival of Brig Mahao from leave of absence. Communicated with L/Cpl Motene by instant messaging (Whatsapp) regarding acquisition of weapons and met with him in April 2015 at the Makoanyane Barracks during which meeting A8 expressed his displeasure at the delay in carrying out the plan to kill the officers and stated that it should be carried out more speedily. In May 2015, met with L/Cpl Motene and L/Cpl Makhabane at Makoanyane Barracks regarding proposed attack on Brig Mokaloba.

In early May 2015, also met with Pvt Mokokoane at Makoanyane Barracks and attempted to incite him for the planned attack. On or about 12 May 2015, met with Sgt Ramosito and A10 at Ratjomose Barracks and discussed the weapons to be used in the attack, including General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) made available by the Peacekeeping Company.

On or about 13 May 2015, contacted Sgt Sejake telephonically regarding the planned attack and later met L/Cpl Makhabane at Makoanyane Barracks regarding the meeting planned for 16 May 2015, which did not take place.

Accused No 9 (Sgt Semakale)

Communicated telephonically and in meetings with L/Cpl Motene and supported this plan to kill the officers, commencing with Brig Mokaloba, in April – May 2015.

Accused No 10 (Sgt Lekhabunyane)

Engaged with Sgt Ramosito during March 2015 at Ratjomose Barracks and volunteered his services as a marksman in the team that was going to ambush Brig Mokaloba.

Accused No 11 (Cpl Mokhoro)

During March 2015 and at Ratjomose Barracks discussed the acquisition of weapons and vehicles for the purpose of carrying out the planned attacks on officers with Sgt Ramosito and A18.

During April 2015, while being transported between Ha Ratjomose and Makoanyane Barracks, discussed the acquisition of a sniper rifle and silencer for the purpose of carrying out the attacks on officers with L/Cpl Makhabane.

During April – May 2015, met with, inter alios, L/Cpl Motene at Makoanyane Barracks to discuss acquisition of weapons and attacks on officers. In early May 2015 and at Ratjomose Barracks discussed the vehicles and weapons to be used in the planned attack on Brig Mokaloba with Cpl Timile.

Accused No 12 (Cpl Letsilane)

Communicated telephonically and in meetings with L/Cpl Motene and supported the plan to kill the officers, commencing with Brig Mokaloba, in April – May 2015. Was to take part in a further meeting on 16 May 2015 in Maseru, which meeting did, however, not take place because the conspiracy had been uncovered by then and arrests had commenced on 14 May 2015.

Accused No 13 (Cpl Lipoto)

In September 2014 attended a meeting with L/Cpl Makhabane and Pvt Mosaku at Makoanyane Barracks where the acquisition of armoured vehicles (known as RAMs), A13 and Pvt Mosaku both being RAM drivers for the purpose of carrying out arrests of officers was discussed.

Accused No 14 (Cpl Manaka) and Accused No 15 (Cpl Mohatlane)

Communicated telephonically and in meetings with L/Cpl Motene at Makoanyane Barracks and supported the plan to kill the officers, commencing with Brig. Mokaloba, April –  May 2015.

Accused No. 16 (Cpl Chele)

On or about 12 May 2015, and at Ratjomose Barracks during the course of receiving the service vehicle of A1, engaged with Sgt Ramosito regarding the planned attack on the officers.

Accused No 17 (Cpl Motseko)

During March 2015, A17 engaged with Cpl Nzimande during a journey from Makoanyane Barracks to Moshoeshoe I International Airport in a vehicle driven by Pvt Marole and was apprised of the planned attack on Brig Mokaloba.

Accused No 18 (L/Cpl Jobo)

In January 2015, met with L/Cpl Makhabane, at the instance of Col. Matobakele as communicated through Pvt Mosako, at Harel for the purpose of arranging the acquisition of weapons for arresting officers. During or about March 2015, met with Sgt Ramosito at Ha Ratjommose Barracks and discussed the plan to attack Brig Mokaloba.

Later discussed the plan with Sgt Ramosito and A11 near the latter’s residence at Ratjomose Barracks. During April – May 2015, attended meetings at Makoanyane Barracks with, inter alios, L/Cpl Motene and L/Cpl Makhabane, regarding the execution of the plan to kill officers in the LDF, commencing with Brig Mokaloba after the RAMs became unavailable.

In late April 2015, A18 stated to Sgt Molumo that he (A18) was attending a meeting with Brig Mahao and the Commissioner of Police regarding the provision of weapons. Was one of the four-man team that was to execute the attack on Brig Mokaloba in early May 2015 and undertook to obtain an AK47 assault rifle (in possession of another person) for the purpose, although he did not in fact do so.

Accused No 19 (L/Cpl Molefi)

Had discussions with Sgt Ramosito regarding the position of Brig Mahao and on or about 12 May 2015 at Ha Ratjomose Barracks engaged with Sgt Ramosito regarding the availability of weapons and a vehicle for the planned attack and indicated his support for it.

Accused No 20 (L/Cpl Makhooane)

On or about 12 May 2015 and at Makoanyane Barracks engaged with Sgt Ramosito regarding the planned attack and indicated that it simply required a strategic plan with ammunition being supplied by the peacekeeping unit.

Accused No 21 (Pvt Pama)

Engaged with A7 at Makoanyane Barracks regarding the planned arrest of officers. During late March 2015, engaged with Pvt Lichaba in the bar of the BNP Centre, Maseru regarding the planned arrest of officers and during the period April – May 2015 at Defence Headquarters in Maseru indicated that a number of officers, including Brig Mokaloba, were to be killed because they were obstructing Brig Mahao from taking command. Similarly engaged with Sgt Ramosito regarding such intended killing.

Accused No 22 (Pvt Bolofo) and Accused No 23 (Pvt Ralitlemo)

Communicated telephonically and in meetings with L/Cpl Motene at Makoanyane Barracks and supported the plan to kill the officers, commencing with Brig Mokaloba, in April – May 2015.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, Advocate Phoofolo (KC) said: “There is an issue of human rights here, there is no way that my clients would stand trial before a Court Martial while at the same time helping the SADC Commission of Inquiry with investigations over the alleged mutiny. It is confusing that my clients will participate in double proceedings of both the Commission and the Court martial.

“Who is fooling who here? The first item of the particulars of offence clearly shows that my clients are being accused of resisting the authority of Lt Gen Kamoli who had then been removed from the LDF command.

“Legitimately, Brig Mokaloba, Lt Col Phaila, Lt Col Lekhooa, Maj Ntoi, Maj Sechele, Capt Hashatsi, 2Lt Nyakane and 2Lt Hlehlisi are the ones who should be charged with mutiny because they supported a fired commander to overthrow the successor.”

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