They pulled my balls, soldier tells court

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MASERU — A Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officer last week told the High Court that members of the army pulled his testicles and beat him up so badly that he fainted during an interrogation exercise five years ago.

Lieutenant Tlhoriso Letsie is now suing army boss Lieutenant-General Thuso Motanyane for M750 000 for torture and unlawful detention.

Letsie is also suing Police Commissioner ‘Malejaka Letooane and Attorney-General Ts’okolo Makhethe.

Letsie alleges in papers filed at the High Court that he was arrested, detained and tortured by the military police in December 2004.

He said he was accused of aiding the escape from military detention of one Private Lerotholi.

Letsie denies the charge.

Letsie is claiming M300 000 for unlawful arrest and detention, another M300 000 for pain and suffering as well as M150 000 for contumelia.

Letsie told acting High Court judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane last week that he was arrested and detained at Ratjomose barracks in Maseru.

“At about midnight on December 16, 2004 I was removed from my cell by members of the military intelligence and members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services.

“I was driven to the offices of the Ministry of Defence where I was interrogated on the escape of Private Lerotholi,” Letsie told the court.

Letsie said when he denied aiding Lerotholi to escape from custody he was hit with blunt objects all over his body.

He said those who assaulted him were his juniors in the army as well as members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.

Letsie said during the beatings his hands and feet were tied.

He also said he was suffocated with a blanket which was pulled over his face and fastened to his waist with a rope for more than three hours.

He said he was subjected to similar torture on December 18 and 23, 2004.

“I was arrested on suspicion that I had made unacceptable statements at the home of Lerotholi, and that I had said Lerotholi was assaulted while in detention,” Letsie said.

At one point Letsie said he was taken to the Military Intelligence offices at the barracks where he was also tortured.

He said he was ordered to sit on a swivel chair.

“After I sat down a blanket was draped over me.

“I also felt what was like a rope thrown around my waist area and tightened. I managed to free my arm off the rope as it was being tightened,” he states.

Letsie said he also felt a hand feeling for his nose and mouth and tightly pressing the blanket making it difficult for him to breathe.

“I curled and leaned forward until I fell off the chair on the floor,” said Letsie in his affidavit.

He also said he was pinned to the floor during the interrogation.

“I tried to remove the blanket off my mouth in order to breathe but it was forced back,” he said.

He told the court that his head was forcefully turned to the side and he could feel someone heavily stepping on it and pinning it down onto the floor.

“That strained my neck muscles painfully. I was being pummelled all over my body and my testicles were forcefully pulled and I was suffocated until I fainted,” Letsie said.

He said he was repeatedly assaulted and when he regained consciousness he found his hands tied to his back.

He said during the assault one military intelligence officer came up to him and whispered: “Where is Lerotholi?”

 “I replied that I did not know,” Letsie said. 

Letsie said after the assault he was taken back to the military police offices at Ha Ratjomose.

He said he was still shackled and was denied drinking water during the interrogation.

The court reserved judgment in the matter.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane said she will arrange a date for the announcement of the judgment with the registrar.

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