Mahao family slams probe
The family of slain former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao is “frustrated and angry” over the SADC Commission of Inquiry’s “silence”.
The Commission was established last month to, among others, probe the fatal shooting of Brigadier Mahao by LDF members as he left his Mokema home on 25 June 2015.
Government says the former LDF boss was resisting arrest for alleged mutiny hence the shooting, but his family has rejected this claim.
A special meeting of regional leaders which met in Pretoria on 3 July decided to establish a Commission to probe “circumstances leading to Brigadier Mahao’s death”, as well as other security-related issues.
however, more than a month after the SADC special meeting, the Mahao family says it has not been contacted by the 13-member all-foreign Commission led by Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi.
According to a letter the family has written to SADC executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax and copied to SADC Facilitator to Lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa, and new SADC chairperson Botswana president Ian Khama, the Mahaos expected the investigation to have been kick-started by now.
Reads the letter dated 17 August 2015: “We noted with great anticipation the implementation of the contents of the Double Troika Communiqué. In particular we appreciated the summit’s decision, “as a matter of urgency, to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Brigadier Mahao, and its deployment with immediate effect.
“The family notes with most profound disappointment and utter frustration that it is now six weeks since the extraordinary Double Troika summit directed as above, but the work of the Commission has been shrouded by a veil of silence.
“Our frustration and anger has been aggravated by the fact that no one communicates with us as if we count for nothing in a matter that is primarily about the death of our family member.
“A week ago, the family instructed our lawyer, Advocate haee Phoofolo (KC), to contact the Commission to establish when it would commence its investigation and how it proposed to conduct its work.
“After Adv Phoofolo KC met the Commission, we cannot say that we are any wiser about when it will start and how it will go about its work.
“We have good reason to suspect that the urgency with which the SADC Troika summit directed the inquiry has been sacrificed on the altar of those who wish to use the inquiry as a battering ram in a political football contest.
“More worrisome is the fact that already the delays have opened an opportunity to those who carried out the heinous assassination of General Mahao to contaminate evidence, intimidate witnesses and tighten their nefarious grip by further militarising life in Lesotho under several ruses.”
The family also accuses government of not cooperating in the matter.
The letter continues: “While the SADC Double Troika directed the government of Lesotho to fully cooperate with the investigation, this directive has not been matched by deeds.
“The family was informed by ballistic experts who had been sent from South Africa to Lesotho to conduct investigations on the vehicles and weapons implicated in General Mahao’s assassination to enable a complete pathologist report, that they were denied access and hurried out of the country by some of the organs of the Lesotho state.
“Moreover, General Mahao’s mobile phones seized by his murderers have been abused to spread psychological terror on members of the family, including the de- ceased’s young children, and to haunt other members of the Lesotho Defence Force.
“We had hoped that these evil deeds would halt while the SADC Observer Mission and the Commission of Inquiry were on the ground if only for the rogues to demonstrate respect for SADC.
“It is quite obvious to the family and the Basotho Nation at large that the endeavours by SADC Troika in Lesotho are fast losing credibility.”
A family spokesperson, Lehloenya Mahao acknowledged the letter yesterday, but said it had not been responded to, while the Lesotho Times’ efforts to get a comment from Mr Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa were fruitless.
Dr Tax was also not available for comment yesterday.
THE late Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao