RAKUOANE TO SUE MA­HAO’S WIDOW

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Bongiwe Zih­langu

HOME Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane is con­tem­plat­ing le­gal ac­tion against ‘Mam­phanya Ma­hao for al­leg­ing he was privy to a plot to kill her hus­band.

Ms Ma­hao told the on­go­ing SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry that Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane al­legedly ad­vised her hus­band to ac­cept his de­mo­tion from head­ing the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) if he wanted to be “spared” from Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing.

‘Mam­phanya’s hus­band, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, was fa­tally shot in June this year by sol­diers who had come to ar­rest him for al­legedly plot­ting to lead a re­bel­lion in the LDF.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili had re­moved him as LDF com­man­der the pre­vi­ous month but he was chal­leng­ing the dis­missal in court, ar­gu­ing it was illegal.

Fol­low­ing his mur­der, gov­ern­ment claimed Lt-gen Ma­hao was re­sist­ing ar­rest when he was killed, but his fam­ily dis­putes this ver­sion of events, in­sist­ing it was a care­fully planned as­sas­si­na­tion by jeal­ous col­leagues.

A 10-mem­ber SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana is cur­rently in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses to es­tab­lish what hap­pened to Lt-gen Ma­hao and other se­cu­rity-re­lated is­sues af­flict­ing Le­sotho.

Last week, Ms Ma­hao was be­fore the com- mis­sion when she made the stun­ningng al­le­ga­tion against Ad­vo­cate Ra Rakuoa­nee and Mr Mets­ing.

The claim sent shock shock­waves across the na­tion as it sug­gested two of the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal heavy­weight­sheavywe could ould have known of the as­sas­sin as­sas­si­na­tion which took place on 25 June th this year in Mokema, just out­side Mas Maseru.

How­ever, soon af­ter­afte the tes­ti­mony, es­ti­mony, Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane said hee was not yet in a po­si­tion to co com­ment,, but yesterday an­nounced he was con­sid­er­ing on­sid­er­ing tak­ing the mat­ter to cou court. Ad­dress­ing a presspres con­fer­ence er­ence in Maseru, the Pop­u­larPopu Front nt for Democ­racy (PFD (PFD) lead­err said the ac­cu­sa­tion had come as a shock to him, adding he wanted a courtt of law to test the claim..

The PFD also lso ral­lied be­hind its leader,ader, and vowed to re­por­tort the is­sue to the po­lice olice and then the courts s of law.

“My party, my fam­ily and I would uld rather I seek le­gal re­course. ecourse. I would like to take this mat­ter to court rt be­cause these are very se­ri­ous al al­le­ga­tions ns by ’M’e ‘Mam­phanya,”‘Mam a,” said Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane, whose party formed a coali­tion gov­ern­ment with Dr Mo­sisili’s Demo­cratic Congress, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) led by Mr Mets­ing, Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress, Na­tional I nde­pen­dent Party, Ba­sotho Congress Party and Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party af­ter the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions.

“I am yet to make a de­ci­sion; I will only do so fol­low­ing le­gal con­sul­ta­tions. I might also re­spond to her on the same plat­form, which is the com­mis­sion, if I am called to tes­tify.

“But I pre­fer go­ing the le­gal route be­cause the courts are more re­li­able as they as­sess the depth of ev­i­dence put be­fore them. The com­mis­sion, on the other hand, does not have the time to do so.”

The PFD, on the other hand, de­fended its leader and ac­cused Ms Ma­hao of be­ing used by the op­po­si­tion to tar­nish the min­is­ter’s rep­u­ta­tion, as well as that of Mr Mets­ing.

In a state­ment read by the party’s deputy leader, Tha­bang Kholumo at yesterday’s press con­fer­ence, the PFD noted: “This is a ploy to di­vide gov­ern­ment. ’M’e ‘Mam­phanya’s tes­ti­mony seems to sug­gest that Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane was privy to the plan to kill Bri­gadier Ma­hao.

“That clearly shows this was some­thing cob­bled up re­cently; a new way of think­ing to vil­ify our leader and Ntate Mets­ing.”

Mr Kholumo, who is also Deputy Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, added it was “sus­pi­cious” the Ma­hao fam­ily worked with Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane dur­ing prepa­ra­tions for Lt-gen Ma­hao’s burial, even ac­cept­ing his con­tri­bu­tion of a cow and gro­ceries “only to say this about him now”.

“How are we then ex­pected to view ‘M’e ‘Mam­phanya’s tes­ti­mony now, when the fam­ily never shunned Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane, or ac­cused him of any wrong­do­ing be­fore?” Mr Kholumo asked.

“Why can’t we en­ter­tain the sus­pi­cion that she is be­ing used by the op­po­si­tion?”

The PFD also urged Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane to re­port the mat­ter to the po­lice for a docket to be opened and wit­nesses sum­moned “so that a law­suit can be filed”.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Kholumo, there was no way the ac­cu­sa­tions could go un­chal­lenged due to their grav­ity.

“The al­le­ga­tions are very se­ri­ous and tar­nish our leader’s im­age. We call for him to take le­gal ac­tion so that the true facts of the mat­ter can be es­tab­lished.

“We want peace and jus­tice; we are not happy that the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion is be­ing used to ped­dle un­founded lies against some peo­ple,” Mr Kholumo said.

“As the PFD, we are say­ing let’s open a case with the po­lice; we will push our leader to take ac­tion. We need all politi­cians in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties and mur­der to be held ac­count­able.”

Con­tacted for com­ment on Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane’s state­ment, as well as the PFD’S ac­cu­sa­tions, Ms Ma­hao said she was not aware of the media brief­ing in ques­tion.

“I can­not com­ment un­til I have stud­ied the con­tents of the press brief­ing you are re­fer­ring to. I will re­spond at a later stage,” Ms Ma­hao said.

On the other hand, the Ma­hao fam­ily lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Haae Phoofolo (King’s Coun­sel) told the Le­sotho Times it was “legally right” to sue a per­son for defama­tion even if the state­ment was made be­fore a com­mis­sion of in­quiry or court of law.

Adv Phoofolo told the Le­sotho Times last night: “If Ntate Rakuoane feels he was de­famed by ‘Mam­phanya’s tes­ti­mony, he can sue her for defama­tion. Even peo­ple who tes­tify be­fore courts of law can be pros­e­cuted for defama­tion if need be.

“That is why peo­ple must al­ways be care­ful of what they say be­fore the courts or com­mis­sions of in­quiry like the one we are cur­rently hav­ing in Le­sotho.”

‘MAM­PHANYA Ma­hao

HOME Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lekhetho rakuoane

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