THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has accused the police of assaulting party deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi and member Zele Mpheshea while being interrogated in connection with an investigation into the disappearance and subsequent murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng.
However, Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, has vehemently denied the allegations, urging the party to report their claim to the law enforcement agency.
Mr Mpheshea was arrested last Thursday and released on Monday afternoon in connection with an ongoing investigation into the disappearance and subsequent murder of PC Khetheng.
PC Khetheng, who was stationed in Mokhotlong, was last seen alive being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations he torched the house of a superior officer in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
This had prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.
The case had been proceeding in the High Court, with numerous postponements, until earlier this month when a special police investigating team arrested Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu (51), Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39), Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49) in connection with the disappearance.
The investigation led to the exhumation of a body identified as that of PC Khetheng’s at the Lepereng Cemetery earlier this month. PC Khetheng’s family buried his remains in Mokhotlong last Saturday.
Mr Mokhosi, who was a Defence and National Security minister in the previous government, handed himself over to the police on Monday morning after being summoned to assist with the investigation into PC Khetheng’s murder.
Mr Mokhosi has since been charged with murder and remanded in custody along with the four LMPS officers.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, accused the LPMS of assaulting Mr Mpheshea and Mr Mokhosi, saying the interrogators wanted the duo to implicate other party leaders including its leader Mothetjoa Metsing.
“We are aware that the deputy leader was beaten up by members of the police. This took place after the party’s Khubetsoana branch youth leader Zele Mpheshea spent days in police custody being beaten up and being forced to implicate the party leadership,” he said.
“After he was detained in police custody without any charge, it is surprising that he was released without being charged.”
Mr Sekata accused the police of turning Lesotho into a “lawless state” adding that politicians were using the law enforcement agency to fight their political battles.
He also called on the Southern African Development Community, African Union, Commonwealth, United Nations, European Union, Christian Council of Lesotho, Lesotho Council of Non-governmental Organisations and other civil society organisations to “call for the protection of basic human rights”.
Mr Sekata added that congress officials would no longer hand themselves over to the police when summoned.
“They (police) will have to forcibly arrest us,” he said.
Inspector Mopeli told the Lesotho Times in an interview yesterday that the LCD was yet to lodge a formal complaint over their allegations.
“We arrested Basotho men and not political leaders. So far, we don’t have any formal complaint with regards to those rumuors of assault,” he said.
“Nobody has approached us complaining about those allegations. On our side, we know that they were not beaten.”
According to a statement issued by government spokesperson and Communications Minister Joang Molapo on Tuesday, Mr Mokhosi handed himself to the police after having been summoned on several occasions.
“The government of Lesotho wishes to confirm that the Honourable Tšeliso Mokhosi Member of Parliament and Deputy Leader of LCD is currently in police detention. This is as part of the ongoing investigations into the disappearance and subsequent murder of PC Mokalekale Khetheng,” Chief Molapo said in the statement.
“During the course of the police inquiries into this matter, Mr Mokhosi emerged as a person of interest. Mr Mokhosi was invited on numerous occasions by the LMPS to make himself available in order to assist the police with their investigations. Mr Mokhosi declined these requests until on the 28th August 2017 when the investigating officers made clear to him that unless he came voluntarily he could be arrested.”
He said it was only then that Mr Mokhosi made himself available to the police; adding that it was unclear how long the police would need to keep him in detention.
“The government wishes to assure the people of Lesotho and the friends and family of Mr Mokhosi that he is being well cared for, he is in excellent health and has been afforded and will continue to be afforded all the rights and privileges required by Lesotho law,” he said.