High Court orders army to free soldier

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MASERU — The High Court on Saturday ordered the army to release a soldier who complained that he had been detained and harassed by officers from the military intelligence.
Lance Corporal Remaketse Thamae was detained last Tuesday for questioning over allegations that two army captains were planning to topple the government.
Thamae rushed to the High Court after he was ordered last Friday to report at the Military Intelligence offices.
High Court judge Justice Tseliso Monaphathi on Saturday ordered that Thamae should be released from the custody of intelligence officers and report to his immediate boss at Makoanyane Barracks.
In his affidavit Lance Corporal Thamae said his ordeal started last Tuesday when he was ordered by his commanding officer to report at the Military Intelligence offices.
“On my arrival, I was ordered to sit outside. I was not allowed to go for tea and lunch like other soldiers,” Thamae said.
He added he was also not allowed to take his medication and did not have free movement.
“The third and fourth respondents (Captain Lekhooa and Warrant Officer Mokete, respectively) ordered me not to go anywhere.
“At around 15h00, they called me for an interview and the issue was in regard to what one Corporal Sello Rampae had told me,” Thamae said.
He alleged that Rampae had told him that Captain Bulane Sechele was holding meetings to plan to topple the government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
He is alleged to have said: “I want you to keep watching Captain Sechele for me, he holds meetings.”
When he asked what kind of meetings Sechele was holding, Rampae allegedly said: “Captain Sechele is holding some meetings with Captain Ramotso at the latter’s residence to topple the government.”
“I even told them that I had also told Captain Bereng and Corporal Rapiletsa.
“But the problem ensued when I told them that on July 1, I had also told Captain (Bulane) Sechele.
“They started to fume with anger and asked me several times as to why I told him.
“The main issue was why I told Captain Sechele this ‘damaging’ allegation,” Thamae said.
Sechele is facing several charges before the court martial including circulating his opinion amongst some soldiers regarding the legality of an army pension scheme without seeking permission from the army commander.
He is also being charged with filing a constitutional case challenging the legality of the same law without seeking the permission of army commander Lieutenant General Thuso Motanyane.
He was also recently in the news in a dispute over a house after the army tried to move him from a government house at Ratjomose Barracks for one at Makoanyane Barracks.
Thamae said the day he spent at
the Military Intelligence office was
not easy for him because he was insulted.
He also said the officers threatened him by shouting at him saying he did not know what they were capable of.
He said at around 6pm Captain Lekhooa left the interrogation room and instructed Warrant Officer Mokete to see what he would do with him.
“I got out of that room and asked one Lance Corporal Makha as to what I should do.”
“I could not understand that. I then concluded that torture (was) imminent. I asked Lance Corporal to go and pass water; he agreed.”
Thamae said he then ran away to Sechele’s residence and told him what had transpired.
He added that the following day he narrated his ordeal to his commanding officer who ordered him to go to the Military Intelligence office again.
“When I arrived at the Military Intelligence office I was threatened with a charge of disobedience to particular orders for leaving the place the previous day without being released.
“I kept on reporting myself to that office every day until Friday, July 8 at 7:30am where I was released (sometime) between 5pm and 6:30 except on Friday when I was released at 4:13pm.”
Thamae said it was on this day that he instructed his lawyer, Advocate ’Mole Kumalo, to take up the matter with the courts of law “because I could feel that death was imminent”.

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