Former soldier sues army for unpaid pension
Published on August 15, 2014 · No Comments
MASERU – A retired army private who claims the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) swindled part of his pension and gratuity after 21 years of service is suing the commander.
Upon his retirement in July 2000, Ex-Private Leshoboro Letsie claims the army failed to pay his outstanding balance of M99 000 in gratuity funds.
He was aged 48 at the time he took an early retirement from the force, evidence before court shows.
Letsie, who was attached to the army’s mechanical engineering department, says the said sum was accrued over his lengthy and impeccable service as a military man.
But repudiating the liability, the LDF alleges the former army mechanic resigned and went on an unpaid study leave from August 17, 1984, to April 5, 1989, to pursue his studies at Lerotholi Polytechnic.
The army further claims the four-year period Letsie was absent from work does not form part of his service record, adding that means he only served for 16 years in the force.
Major Pitso Lesia, who is the LDF human resource officer, on Monday this week testified in court on behalf of the army.
Led by Advocate Mafefooane Moshoeshe for the crown, Lesia confirmed Letsie’s resignation saying he had no idea the latter was on an unpaid study leave at the time in question.
“According to Force Order serial number 14/89 dated August 4 1989, No. 4371 Private Leshoboro Letsie was re-instated and restored to his former position in the army. The document shows his re-instatement was effective from August 5 that year,” he testified.
Lesia was however quick to note due process was not followed upon Letsie’s re-enlistment, adding he was not issued with a fresh force number as stipulated by the military law.
“Upon his re-engagement in 1989, Private Letsie was not issued with a new force number – a grave mistake on my office and such blunders rarely occur. In fact, this is the only such mistake I can recall,” Lesia indicated.
He said Letsie was not entitled to receive pension upon his retirement as his service did not amount to the prerequisite 20-year period.
“He is not supposed to be getting any pension as he served for only 16 years. He was only entitled to receive his gratuity. I strongly believe the army does not owe him anything,” he said as he rubbishes the applicant’s claims for the money.
Under cross examination by Letsie’s lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, Lesia said the fact that the former soldier received a medal for long service (20-years) during his military days, was in fact another major blunder on the army’s part.
“I know I have not shown the court the plaintiff’s resignation letter but I know for a fact he resigned. I am also aware the army did not correct the issues in respect of his force number, his pension and medal for long service,” the court heard.
The trial heard before the Acting Chief Justice has been postponed until August 25.
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