Peace walk a pathway to justice
THE peace walk held last Saturday in honour of the late Lieutenant-general Maaparankoe Mahao was a strong affirmation of the long healing process and emotional therapy that some members of the family, friends and the general public still need to undergo. It started with Maaparankoe’s youngest sister literally breaking down as the long procession snaked through the village of Koalabata that morning.
The painful memories of her brother’s final journey from there to his home village of Mokema on Friday, 10 July 2015 flooded her mind like a raging storm. The rivulets of tears on her face symbolised a powerful message depicting the cold-heartedness of those who planned and executed General Mahao’s assassination. Theirs was an act of beasts, sadists and savages, not humans who would do all in their power to protect a life.
Upon arrival at the scene of the murder at noon, the travellers’ choice of song and the circle they formed around the growing pile of stones that mark the General’s end welled up more tears from some of us. The song was a tribute to both the General and his 85-year old mother who was also present at the occasion.
The lyrics went: Mosali ea tsoetseng Ntate Mahao a bokoe (the woman who gave birth to Ntate Mahao should be honoured). I am not sure what was going through the mind of Nkhono ‘Manqosa as she listened to this powerful rendition but I want to believe she got solace from the martyrdom of her much beloved son and the immeasurable adoration and support that Basotho have shown since his demise.
This is only the beginning of a long road ahead to immortalize this son of Mokema (and now of the nation) with the hope that his death will one day dig this cursed country out of the flames of hell. Those responsible for his killing falsely think they have signed an unbreachable contract with their creator to spare them from meeting their death one day. The unfortunate reality facing them is that a large majority of this nation will want to quickly forget they ever existed in stark contrast to the accolades showered on the man they murdered.
The Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led commission has left our shores and Basotho have already had a lot to say through all forms of media in relation to its work and what the likely outcome of the report could be. We all keenly await its findings though there is probably a certain section of our nation who wish there will be enough sand on the ground to bury their faces when it is made public.
While the commission was still in session, Justice Phumaphi made a remark that shows just how politically damaged this country is. Justice Phumaphi asked how the leadership of this country would plead ignorance on matters a normal government would know.
This commission gave him the answers he was looking for; he heard for himself – through the different testimonies — that this is not a normal country. It is sick and rotten to the very core of its soul. The worst part is that the cancer Lesotho is suffering from is man-made not natural. With the right leadership, the ailments of this country are curable. But the “doctors” trying to provide this cure lack proper diagnostic equipment and are bungling even the basics of good accountable governance.
This is a country where the word “justice” has no meaning otherwise those who murdered Lt Gen Mahao, police Sub-inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko and Mohau Qobete would have long faced it. When the Mahao family wrote a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him to intervene in identifying General Mahao’s murderers, it was with the understanding that he has the power and authority to handle the matter. His continued silence, however, speaks much louder than he may think.
This army is clearly beyond reproach and even those it reports to seem scared to engage it in ensuring the rule of law and accountability are not infringed upon at will. Even the failure to release the detained soldiers to afford them the opportunity to testify conveys a definite message that there are individuals who are presumably above the law in this country and will do as they wish right under the noses of government. We might as well disband the courts of law. If their decisions are not respected, they have no reason for existence in a country where the wheels of justice have been clamped and cannot move.
We are in an era where many brutal dictatorships (especially in regions like South America) have long fallen and civil liberties have become the norm. Lesotho, on the contrary, appears to be developing new skills of dictatorship and sharpening its weapons to decimate Basotho through brute force and outright contempt for the rule of law.
This, at a time when the world now frowns upon such barbaric methods. Amazing still is for some in government to question the pres- ence of SADC in Lesotho over the death of “one person” (as they put it) when all over Africa there are similar or worse problems. If they think so casually about life, I challenge them to commit suicide and deprive themselves of the chance and privilege to raise their own children.
While the commissioners were here, they heard of the hit-list that had been drawn up and resulted in two people on that list losing their lives at the hands of (known) murderers. Once again a new hit-list has emerged bearing (among others) the names of Advocate Tumisang Mosotho and National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao. Those who seem to get a fix out of human blood are probably already hovering above their heads and once again the relevant government departments will fold their arms and wait until all the rivers of this country overflow with human blood.
This is the Lesotho we are watching with horror and disbelief as it turns into a murder capital of the world. If those who planned and executed the assassination of Lt Gen Mahao have children of their own, they are greeted by the joyful sounds of those children each time they get home and soon family discussions will centre around new Christmas toys and presents for the kids. Maaparankoe no longer has that opportunity to find out which Christmas gifts would be preferred by his three boys. But a humble reminder to those who seem to claim ownership of life and the power to decide who amongst us has to be stripped of this God-given life; we cannot be intimidated and we shall overcome, no matter how long it may take.