LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) Commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, has been slapped with a M10 million lawsuit by four Maseru civilians who were allegedly tortured by soldiers under his command in December 2021.
The quartet of Renang Kharasi, Tumelo Marai, Thabiso Kharasi and Motlalentoa Liefo claim they were attacked and tortured by soldiers while at a bar in Ha-Tšosane, Maseru, on Christmas Day last year.
Lt-Gen Letsoela, the Defence and National Security ministry and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are first to third defendants respectively.
“On 25 December 2021, the plaintiffs were brutally assaulted by members of the Lesotho Defence Force at or near DR Public Bar in Ha-Tšosane, Maseru,” their application filed at the High Court this week reads.
“The assault was indiscriminate and severe as the LDF members belaboured (sic) the plaintiffs with sticks, fists and clapped them. The ordeal was captured on a video recording device of the DR Public Bar. Members of the LDF then took them away in a service van, covered them with cement bags, carried the plaintiffs to and from places in Maseru whilst the plaintiffs were continuously assaulted, tormented and insulted by these members of the LDF.
“As a consequence of the aforesaid brutal assault and torture of the plaintiffs by members of the LDF, they suffered excruciating pain and torment. They had to undergo hospital and medical assessment and consequently incurred medical expenses. The plaintiffs continue to incur further medical expenses by reason of continued necessity to attend medical check-ups and assessment. They no longer enjoy their usual amenities of life.
“They have lost or suffered decrease in their respective earnings as the plaintiffs are no longer able to carry out their normal work and/or remunerative activities. They suffered great loss of indignity, insults and embarrassment.”
They also claim they tried to engage Lt-Gen Letsoela and Adv Motsieloa for compensation, to no avail, forcing them to resort to court action.
“Members of the LDF meted out the torture to the plaintiffs while acting within the scope and remit of their employment. As such, the defendants are therefore vicariously liable for all the acts of members of the LDF. The defendants are legally liable to make good the damage and loss occasioned by the members of the LDF as claimed by the plaintiffs,” their application reads.
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“On 29 January 2022, the plaintiffs, through their legal representatives, wrote to the first and third defendants (Letsoela and Motsieloa) and claimed compensation for the damage and loss as aforementioned. A period of more than 31 days has lapsed, and the said defendants have not responded or made good the damage and loss. Notwithstanding demand, the defendants have refused, neglected and failed to pay the compensation to the plaintiffs.”
They therefore want a joint figure of M10 million broken down as follows:
“Payment of M7 million as damages, compensation for the brutal assault and torture, pain and suffering of the four plaintiffs by the members of the Lesotho Defence Force.
“Payment of M1 million for contumelia suffered by the four plaintiffs. Payment of M2 million damages for actual medical expenses, loss of amenities of life, loss of or decrease in earnings and future medical expenses,” the quartet prays.
Lt-Gen Letsoela and the other defendants are yet to file their responses.