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Missing teen re-appears at High Court



MASERU – Katiso Mosuoane, 19, who had gone missing while being detained by the army, stunned the High Court yesterday when he suddenly appeared at court. He was one of the 65 young delinquents who were incarcerated at the Makoanyane Army Barracks. Mosuoane had escaped from the army and disappeared leading his parents to file an urgent application before High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, seeking an order that Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela should bring him alive to court. When the case was about to be heard, Mosuoane appeared at court in the company of his mother, to the surprise of the army’s lawyers. The army’s spokesman, Captain Sakeng Lekola, told thepost yesterday that the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) “as for now has been ordered to release him”. “I don’t know what the office has done about it now but all I can say is that the commander of the LDF has been ordered to release him to his parents,” Captain Lekola said. “The court ruled that the habeas corpus was no longer necessary because he was now available,” Captain Lekola said, adding: “It was ordered that he should be released from military custody.” After Justice Monaphathi ordered his release, Mosuoane was seen at the High Court premises with his mother, weeping. Mosuoane was one of the young men who were taken to the Makoanyane Military Base after villagers in Koalabata, Tšenola, Ha-Tšosane, Ha-Mabote, Sekamaneng and other areas complained of rampant crimes allegedly committed by vicious gangs. The village chief of Koalabata, Chieftainess ’Makhomo Makoanyane, called the army after her people complained that the police were not dealing with the situation effectively about two months ago. Mosuoane’s parents were the ones who handed him over to the army but later went to the barracks demanding his release on account that he was going to sit for examinations at his school. The army agreed to release him on condition that he would at all times be guarded by a soldier. His father, Senatla Mosuoane, told the court in an affidavit that he voluntarily handed his son to the army after they told them that they would help the youngsters rehabilitate. He explained in court papers that he was told to leave the son at the barracks but he told the officers that he was still a student who needed to write his examinations. “I was promised by the army that he would indeed go and write his exams,” the father said. He said his son went to write the exams, but to his surprise, two days after he sat for the exams the army officers arrived at his home telling him that he was missing. That was when he filed for habeas corpus. Captain Lekola said Mosuoane, one of the gangsters from the crime-infested Motimposo village, is one of the young men whose picture made rounds on social media holding knives. “He was already on the list of boys we were looking for and his parents brought him (to us),” Captain Lekola said. He said while Mosuoane was at the army barracks for rehabilitation “the boy’s parents made it clear that they wanted him out and back home”. “But they were the ones who brought him here,” he said. He also said the parents pleaded with the army commander to allow Mosuoane to have a phone so that he could continue studying. “They also requested that we allow the boy to write his exams at one of the high schools last week,” he said. “Because the commander really cares about education of the youth he made a decision then that one soldier should accompany him to the school every time he sits for examinations,” he said. On the second day, Mosuoane disappeared and a manhunt began. He said the young men “have not been arrested but they are just being rehabilitated”. “The army shall be employed in the defence of Lesotho in the prevention or suppression of terrorism or internal disorder,” he said. The detained gangsters are aged between 15 and 34 years, with educational backgrounds ranging between Grade 8 and Grade 11. Itumeleng Khoete & Nkheli Liphoto

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