Ma­hao fam­ily slams probe

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

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

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