A JUNIOR officer with the Lesotho Defence Force was recently caught red-handed dismantling a greenhouse from a farm owned by the Minister of Small Business Development, Corporative and Marketing Chalane Phori.
The officer, who is now in military detention, is suspected to have been in the process of stealing the greenhouse when he was caught. The greenhouse which is located at Mr Phori’s farm at Temong, Lithabaneng in the Maseru district is valued at M250 000.
LDF public relations officer Lieutenant Colonel Mashili Mashili told this publication that the officer of the rank of Lance Corporal was arrested and detained by the Military Police on 20 August 2018 at the farm.
“I can confirm that a junior officer of Lance Corporal is in detention for allegedly trying to steal a greenhouse belonging to Hon Minister Phori on or around 20 August 2018,” Lt-Col Mashili said.
“The soldier will appear before civilian courts immediately after investigations into the matter have been completed.”
He said the officer may also appear before the court martial if investigations warrant that his alleged actions had also violated military laws.
On his part, Mr Phori said it was sad that people empowered with skills to protect the property and lives of Basotho were the ones perpetrating crimes when they were off duty.
“I do not really remember the exact day but I was in a meeting with the cabinet sub-committee tasked to look into wool and mohair issues when I received a call from a security guard at the farm that they had spotted a suspicious individual at the farm.
“I asked my driver and the bodyguards to rush to the farm and upon their arrival, they discovered that the suspect was an army officer. At least 75 percent of the 100-metre-long greenhouse had already been dismantled. A 100-metres-long greenhouse costs M250 000 and you can imagine the damage he caused on my greenhouse and the costs I am going to incur to repair it. It is very unfortunate that our men and women in uniform, trusted with the huge responsibility of protecting the nation and its property, are the ones destroying the same properties,” Mr Phori said.
Mr Phori said he also proceeded to open a criminal case with the police although the suspect was arrested by the Military Police.