Tha­bane ‘lucky to be alive

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

THABA ‘ NCHU- Le­sotho Defence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli hated former prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane so much he tried to kill him on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, the SADC in­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity heard this week.

Dr Tha­bane’s wife, ‘ Maisiah, told the 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion in Thaba ‘Nchu that her hus­band had a tor­rid time from the LDF chief, and was lucky to be alive.

Ms Tha­bane cited the 27 Jan­uary 2014 bomb­ing of her home, the failed coup of Au­gust 2014 and an evening visit to State House by Lt-gen Kamoli the same month when she found Dr Tha­bane on the floor barely con­scious while the LDF chief sat calmly on a chair nearby, among some of the at­tempts on her hus­band’s life.

Nar­rat­ing events lead­ing to the Jan­uary bomb­ing of her Moshoeshoe II home, Ms Tha­bane said the at­tack­ers were tar­get­ing Dr Tha­bane but hit her chil­dren’s bed­room by mis­take.

“Ntate Tha­bane was go­ing to have a meet­ing at my home in Moshoeshoe II some­time in Jan­uary last year, and asked me to pre­pare him lunch. I de­cided to cook him some mush­rooms but didn’t have the recipe so I asked a friend by the name of ‘ Mampe, to come and help me,” Ms Tha­bane told the com­mis­sion which moved to South Africa last week from Maseru to hear the tes­ti­monies of ex­iled LDF mem­bers, op­po­si­tion party sup­port­ers and op­po­si­tion lead­ers.

‘Mampe, she added, obliged but came with “a stranger” Mr Tha­bane later dis­cov­ered was a mem­ber of the LDF.

“I didn’t like it, so I put a frown on my face to show that I was not happy with the pres­ence of this other woman. When ‘Mampe saw my ex­pres­sion, she asked to talk to me in pri­vate. We went to the chil­dren’s bed­room where she told me the woman was her friend called Moleleki, and that they went to the same church. She also told me the woman was a soldier. I told her I was not happy with her pres­ence at my house.

“We went back to the kitchen to pre­pare the mush­rooms but I didn’t change my ex­pres­sion, and this clearly of­fended Moleleki. I also saw she couldn’t wait for ‘ Mampe to fin­ish help­ing me.

“Then she asked to as­sist in the cook­ing and I flatly re­fused. I told her I couldn’t al­low her to touch my food be­cause I didn’t know her. She again tried to help clean-up the ta­ble and I told her to sit down,” Ms Tha­bane said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Tha­bane, her hus­band was at the house dur­ing this drama.

“They both saw him, and when the two left, I re­ceived a phone call from a soldier named Molumo, who is pop­u­larly known as ‘Sound’. He told me the woman who came with ‘Mampe was very dan­ger­ous. ‘Sound’ then came to my place soon af­ter and was with an­other soldier named Fako. They told me Moleleki was Ka- moli’s spy and had come to see where the bed­rooms were in or­der to kill Ntate Tha­bane,” Ms Tha­bane tes­ti­fied.

How­ever, Ms Tha­bane said when she told Dr Tha­bane about the plot to kill him, he did not be­lieve her and said Lt-gen Kamoli would never do such a thing.

“He said I should stop lis­ten­ing to such in­for­ma­tion, and when I re­alised he did not want

do any­thing about it, I de­cided to re­port the is­sue to ‘Makhotso Matiease, who is with the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice. I also told po­lice com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana about the is­sue. Ntate Tšooana promised that the po­lice would be alert to en­sure Ntate Tha­bane’s safety.”

On 26 Jan­uary 2014, Ms Tha­bane said her hus­band ad­dressed an ABC rally on the out­skirts of Maseru.

“Ntate did not come to my place that day be­cause he had to at­tend a med­i­cal checkup in Jo­han­nes­burg the next morn­ing.

“Then in the early hours of 27 Jan­uary 2014, my house was bombed and my chil­dren badly in­jured.

“I was ad­vised not to al­low sol­diers into my house while the po­lice were in­spect­ing it. I was told the sol­diers would be there to tam­per with ev­i­dence. I fol­lowed the ad­vice and never al­lowed them in un­til the po­lice were done with their in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Ntate Kamoli also came to the scene and I was hes­i­tant to al­low him into my house. But I ended up let­ting him in, and he said he was not happy with the in­ci­dent and would deal with it.

“My sus­pi­cion was since I had taken ‘Mampe to my chil­dren’s room, she thought it was my bed­room hence it was bombed as the at­tack­ers mis­tak­enly be­lieved it was mine and Ntate Tha­bane would be in since he was their tar­get.”

Med­i­cal re­port Ms Tha­bane also told the com­mis­sion that some­time in Au­gust last year, Dr Tha­bane went for med­i­cal checkup in South Africa but on his re­turn, could not find the doc­tor’s re­port — only to hear it be­ing read on ra­dio.

“Ntate left with his body­guards and when he re­turned, I asked to see his med­i­ca­tion. I asked about his progress and he asked a soldier by the name of Rankhone to bring the doc­tor’s re­port from the ve­hi­cle they had trav­elled in to South Africa. But the pa­pers were nowhere to be found. And to my shock, I heard the re­port be­ing read on one ra­dio sta­tion.

“My opin­ion is the body­guards were com­manded to leak the re­port to the sta­tion to em­bar­rass Ntate Tha­bane.

“From that day, my re­la­tion­ship with the body­guards be­came very tense; I made sure they no longer han­dled Ntate Tha­bane’s food and drinks be­cause I did not trust them any­more.”

Lt-gen Kamoli vis­its State House Ms Tha­bane also told the com­mis­sion of a visit to State House by Lt-gen Kamoli some­time in Au­gust 2014.

“One of Ntate Tha­bane’s body­guards came to the bed­room one evening in Au­gust to in­form him that he had a vis­i­tor. And that vis­i­tor was Kamoli.

“I con­tin­ued watch­ing TV, and af­ter about one hour and Ntate Tha­bane had not re­turned, I de­cided to look for him.

“I went up­stairs be­cause that’s where he had gone with Kamoli. I knocked on the door of the lounge where they were sup­posed to be hold­ing the meet­ing and no­body re­sponded. I didn’t hear any voices in the room, so I de­cided to en­ter. I saw Kamoli sit­ting on a chair fac­ing the en­trance, but there was no Ntate Tha­bane. I looked around but he was not there. Kamoli didn’t say any­thing to me and I didn’t ask him where Ntate Tha­bane was.

“I came closer to where he was sit­ting — only to see Ntate Tha­bane on the floor with bub­bles com­ing out of his mouth. I be­came ter­ri­fied be­cause he was with Kamoli who was just sit­ting there and not as­sist­ing him al­though he was barely con­scious.

“I helped Ntate Tha­bane to sit and then stand. I sup­ported him out of the room even though it was very dif­fi­cult for him to walk. When I was try­ing to save Ntate Tha­bane, Kamoli was silent and just look­ing at us as if noth­ing was hap­pen­ing. Be­fore we reached the bed­room, Kamoli passed us and went down the stairs with­out say­ing good­bye and left.

“When I got to the bed­room, I im­me­di­ately called Ntate Tha­bane’s son Pot­lako, and one Dr Tha­bane but their cell­phones were on voice­mail. Then I re­mem­bered I had holy wa­ter. Ntate Tha­bane’s eyes were closed, and I forced him to open his mouth and drink the holy wa­ter. And by the grace of God, he opened his eyes and I saw that his strength was com­ing back.”

Ms Tha­bane said the fol­low­ing morn­ing, she took her hus­band to hospi­tal in South Africa.

“Af­ter ex­am­in­ing him, the doc­tor gave us a re­port of what had hap­pened and I would kindly like to give the med­i­cal re­port to the com­mis­sion­ers in cam­era,” Ms Tha­bane said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Tha­bane, she asked her hus­band what had hap­pened in that room with Lt-gen Kamoli, but he would not tell her.

“When he re­fused to tell me what had hap­pened, I threat­ened to leave him and he ended up telling me. I would also like to tell the com­mis­sion what he told me in cam­era.”

At­tempted coup Ac­cord­ing to Ms Tha­bane, an LDF mem­ber by the name of Ma­jor Mosak­eng called on 29 Au­gust last year and in­formed her he had been given a task he was not will­ing to per­form.

“He also said the sit­u­a­tion at State House was not look­ing good, and I ended up wakingup Ntate Tha­bane. We looked through the win­dow and saw many sol­diers pa­trolling the yard. Ntate Tha­bane said I must not be afraid be­cause State House was pro­tected by the army.”

How­ever, Ms Tha­bane said af­ter both re­alised the sit­u­a­tion was far from nor­mal, Dr Tha­bane asked her to pray with him “so that we could die af­ter hav­ing prayed”.

She then ex­plained how they later es­caped in Dr Tha­bane’s daugh­ter’s ve­hi­cle on the morn­ing of 30 Au­gust. That morn­ing, LDF mem­bers took over three Maseru po­lice sta­tions fol­low­ing a shootout with Dr Tha­bane later call­ing the army ac­tion that day an at­tempted coup led by Lt-gen Kamoli.

LDF ten­ders and po­lice re­cruits Asked by the head of the in­quiry, Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana, about al­le­ga­tions that she was get­ting LDF ten­ders be­cause of her po­si­tion, Ms Tha­bane said she was never awarded a con­tract by the mil­i­tary.

“I am not in busi­ness and don’t even have a li­cence to do so. It is a lie that I was ever awarded ten­ders by the LDF. My brother named Tsebo Ramo­holi is the one who was awarded a ten­der and the only thing I did was bor­row him my car and as­sist him with money to buy uni­form he wanted to sup­ply to the LDF. The ten­der was never mine,” she said.

Ms Tha­bane also said she never forced the po­lice to re­cruit un­qual­i­fied trainees.

“I don’t know any­thing about the re­cruit­ment of po­lice trainees.”

One of the com­mis­sion­ers, Noel Ndlovu, wanted to know if the po­lice had is­sued a re­port on the bomb­ing of her res­i­dence.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions were done but I heard that the dock­ets dis­ap­peared when Ntate Tšooana was on spe­cial leave in Al­ge­ria. I wrote a let­ter to the act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner at the time, Ntate Ma­supha, for an ex­pla­na­tion but I didn’t get it.

“But still, I am con­vinced my house was bombed by Kamoli be­cause of his ha­tred of Ntate Tha­bane.”

Former­premierthomas­tha­bane(right)and­hiswife,‘mai­sa­iah­fol­lowsad­c­com­mis­sionofin­quirypro­ceed­ingsinthaba‘nchu,southafrica.onfri­day.

‘Maisiah Tha­bane is sworn in to tes­tify.

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