SADC TO PROBE MA­HAO’S DEATH

. . . as bloc probes Ma­hao’s death

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ZIM­BABWE and Namibia have pledged to send ex­perts to Le­sotho and help with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into last week’s death of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) Com­man­der Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

South Africa has also said it would pro­vide pathol­o­gists to con­duct an au­topsy on the slain for­mer army com­man­der, with the ex­am­i­na­tion set for to­day in Bloem­fontein, South Africa.

South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who made the an­nounce­ment dur­ing his visit to Maseru this week, added Bri­gadier Ma­hao’s fa­tal shoot­ing by LDF mem­bers just out­side his farm about 30 kilo­me­tres from Maseru, had come as a shock to the re­gion hence the bloc’s de­ci­sion to as­sist in the probe.

De­fence Min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi has is­sued a state­ment claim­ing Bri­gadier Ma­hao was shot as he re­sisted ar­rest, but his fam­ily be­lieves he was de­lib­er­ately as­sas­si­nated by his en­e­mies in the LDF.

And in an ef­fort to en­sure Le­sotho does not de­scend into chaos, the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) has stepped in once again, hence Tues­day’s visit by Mr Ramaphosa.

“We came here at the re­quest of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who is chair­per­son of SADC’S Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity.

“I came to de­liver a spe­cific mes­sage to the Prime Min­is­ter, Pakalitha Mo­sisili, that they ( SADC) would like him to come to the Troika Sum­mit that is go­ing to be held on Fri­day in Pre­to­ria.

“I also came to re­spond to the Prime Min­is­ter’s re­quest that SADC should as­sist with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ma­hao as well as pathol­ogy ex­am­i­na­tion around his death.

“South Africa will be send­ing pathol­o­gists to do the ex­am­i­na­tion and other coun­tries in the re­gion— Zim­babwe and Namibia—will be send­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors to probe the cir­cum­stances around Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ma­hao’s death,” Mr Ramaphosa said in a state­ment at the end of his visit yesterday.

Mr Ramaphosa, who bro­kered the deal which led to Le­sotho’s early elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary this year un­der SADC’S um­brella, fur­ther said dur­ing his visit, he also met other stake­hold­ers which in­cluded op­po­si­tion party lead­ers, church-lead­ers, NGOS and His Majesty King Letsie III.

He also em­pha­sised that the for­mer army com­man­der’s shoot­ing had left “ev­ery­one very con­cerned”.

“I was ini­tially in­formed by the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter (Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing) about Lieu­tenant Ma­hao’s death.

“Mr Mets­ing ex­pressed his deep con­cern and worry about it and nearly ev­ery­one that we met is deeply wor­ried and con­cerned about his death. It is this that has prompted the lead­ers in the re­gion to call a sum­mit of the Dou­ble Troika.

“They will meet on Fri­day and have a dis­cus­sion in the pres­ence and with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili. And I am sure that out of that dis­cus­sion will come sug­ges­tions, pro­pos­als and so­lu­tions of how to take mat­ters for­ward here in Le­sotho.

“Our trip was a good trip; we were well re­ceived. We ended up by go­ing to visit the fam­ily (of Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ma­hao), the widow at her home and we passed our con­do­lences to Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ma­hao’s brother as well and un­cles. We spent time com­fort­ing them and pass­ing on our good wishes and con­do­lences.”

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party ( BNP) deputy leader Joang Mo­lapo con­firmed meet­ing Mr Ramaphosa on Tues­day along­side his op­po­si­tion al­lies from the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL).

“In our meet­ing, Mr Ramaphosa ac­knowl­edged that Lt Gen Ma­hao’s death had ex­posed that the se­cu­rity cri­sis in Le­sotho should be at­tended to as a mat­ter of ur­gency be­fore it gets worse.

“Ac­cord­ing to Mr Ramaphosa, SADC was shocked about gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­in­state Kamoli as LDF com­man­der while the re­gion had made rec­om­men­da­tions to Mo­sisili against do­ing so. Mr Ramaphosa said maybe if Mo­sisili had con­sid­ered the rec­om­men­da­tions that Kamoli should be sent on re­tire­ment, to­gether with Ma­hao and (Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso) Tšooana, this tragedy might not have hap­pened.

“Mr Ramaphosa said it was un­for­tu­nate that the gov­ern­ment went ahead with Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment claim­ing that Le­sotho is a sov­er­eign coun­try. He said SADC is now clear that Kamoli is a threat to Le­sotho’s peace and sta­bil­ity and has to go,” Chief Mo­lapo said yesterday.

RCL deputy leader Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko said the op­po­si­tion tabled their con­cerns be­fore Mr Ramaphosa, among them that their lead­ers who fled to South Africa in May this year fear­ing for their lives, should be as­sisted to re­turn to Le­sotho in safety.

For­mer prime min­is­ter and ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane, BNP leader The­sele ‘ Maserib­ane and RCL leader Keketso Rantšo, fled to South Africa on 11, 13 and 26 May 2015 re­spec­tively, al­legedly af­ter be­ing alerted of a plot to kill them by LDF mem­bers. Gov­ern­ment has since dis­missed these claims.

“Our lead­ers are Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment so they should be given their right and re­spon­si­bil­ity of con­tribut­ing to re­form pro­cesses be­cause they are done in the Na­tional Assem­bly,” Dr Phooko said.

“It is the op­po­si­tion’s hope that Fri­day’s SADC Troika meet­ing in Pre­to­ria will de­ter­mine the way for­ward on the is­sue of se­cu­rity and Lt Gen Ma­hao’s death.

“Mr Ramaphosa in­formed us that Dr Mo­sisili would be ex­pected to present a re­port on the se­cu­rity cri­sis in Le­sotho and the death of Lt Gen Ma­hao.”

On his part, ABC sec­re­tary gen­eral Sa­monyane Nt­sekele yesterday said the op­po­si­tion was also in­formed that South Africa’s Min­is­ter of De­fence and Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans, No­siviwe Mapisa Nqankula led a del­e­ga­tion to Zim­babwe on Tues­day to brief Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe about SADC’S fact-find­ing mis­sion to Le­sotho.

The SADC del­e­ga­tion ar­rived in Le­sotho on Satur­day and left on Mon­day and had come to as­sess the coun­try’s se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion and hear about the cir­cum­stances which led to Bri­gadier Ma­hao’s death.

Mean­while, the Ma­hao fam­ily has called on Mr Ramaphosa to “en­sure jus­tice for our mur­dered son.”

The later soldier’s brother, Pro­fes­sor Nqosa Ma­hao, last night said the fam­ily had taken Mr Ramaphosa to task dur­ing his visit to their home.

“We tabled our con­cerns that he never took Maa­parankoe se­ri­ously since he be­gan his fa­cil­i­ta­tion.

“Be­fore Maa­parankoe died, he told the fam­ily that he didn’t know whether he should take Mr Ramaphosa se­ri­ously any­more be­cause all the is­sues re­gard­ing his ser­vice in the LDF were never con­sid­ered.

“We told Mr Ramaphosa that de­spite his sus­pen­sion from work, ma­li­cious in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2014, an at­tempt on his life and dam­age to his prop­erty and ex­ile from his coun­try, gov­ern­ment still de­cided to ig­nore him. He was not even com­pen­sated for the dam­age to his home fol­low­ing the 30 Au­gust 2014 at­tack by un­known gun­men.

“We also told Mr Ramaphosa that when SADC and the gov­ern­ment were claim­ing that Kamoli was in transit in South Africa, he was still in Le­sotho to strate­gise what­ever he wanted within the LDF.

“We alerted him to go to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and de­mand a let­ter is­sued by a cer­tain of­fi­cial from the for­mer coali­tion gov­ern­ment which sought to make it look like Kamoli had been in South Africa.

“It is our ex­pec­ta­tion as a fam­ily that Mr Ramaphosa is go­ing to take our con­cerns to the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit on Fri­day.

“Look­ing at Mr Ramaphosa’s hu­mil­i­a­tion dur­ing our meet­ing to­day, we re­alised that some of the peo­ple he worked with dur­ing his fa­cil­i­ta­tion were not de­cent enough and were not telling him the truth.”

Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Ma­hao, the fam­ily had ap­pointed its own pri­vate pathol­o­gist de­spite SADC’S of­fer of two pathol­o­gists.

“His body will be taken to Bloem­fontein to­mor­row (to­day) for tests. It should be clear that SADC will be closely as­sisted by the fam­ily not the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho in this ex­am­i­na­tion,” Prof Ma­hao said.

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