Ma­hao fam­ily de­mands an­swers from SADC

Lesotho Times - - News - Keiso Mohloboli

THE fam­ily of slain for­mer army com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, is de­mand­ing an­swers from SADC af­ter the re­gional bloc failed to re­lease Jus­tice Phumaphi’s re­port last month as ex­pected.

Re­gional lead­ers ap­pointed the Botswana judge to head an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the killing of Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Ma­hao out­side his Mokema farm on 25 June this year. The ex-army boss was shot dead by Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers who had come to ar­rest him for sus­pected mutiny.

How­ever, SADC is yet to re­lease the Phumaphi re­port de­spite the judge com­plet­ing in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses on 23 Oc­to­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to a let­ter writ­ten to SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax by the Ma­hao fam­ily lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Haae Phoofolo (KC), the de­lay in re­leas­ing the re­port had be­come cause for con­cern.

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo’s let­ter reads: “The Com­mis­sion of In­quiry was due to sub­mit a re­port of its find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions to the ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of the SADC Troika on 20-21 Novem­ber 2015 in Ma­puto.

“Ac­cord­ing to scanty in­for­ma­tion at our dis­posal, the said meet­ing did not con­vene, thus leav­ing us in the dark as to its sta­tus and the com­mis­sion’s re­port. This let­ter is an ex­pres­sion of our se­ri­ous con­cerns in our ca­pac­ity as such over the fol­low­ing is­sues: The ab­sence of in­for­ma­tion and our ap­par­ent ex­clu­sion in the ex­changes be­tween the Sec­re­tar­iat and the Le­sotho govern­ment con­cern­ing the re­lease of the com­mis­sion’s re­port and or hur­dles that have be­dev­illed its timeous re­lease. There is a cloud of con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the fail­ure of the re­lease of the re­port on the above cited dates be­cause the po­si­tion of the govern­ment as stated by its spokesper­son is that the sum­mit did not sit on ac­count of the pend­ing case in the High Court of Le­sotho where the com­mis­sion has been sued, when on the other hand, an agent of the sec­re­tar­iat who con­versed with our At­tor­ney T Mosotho in­formed him that the sum­mit failed to con­vene on ac­count of not meet­ing the req­ui­site quo­rum of lead­ers from the re­gion.

“In any event, it is our re­spect­ful view that it would be fun­da­men­tally ir­reg­u­lar should the pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port be sus­pended pend­ing the Hashatsi mat­ter. You will be aware, madam, that there is no op­er­a­tive or­der of court against the pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port. It is our re­spect­ful view that as a rel- evant stake­holder in the con­duct of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, there is a need to ap­prise us of all the rel­e­vant and per­ti­nent is­sues sur­round­ing the is­suance of the re­port and to date, there has been no cour­tesy of com­mu­ni­ca­tion of any form that has been di­rected to us on be­half of our client.”

Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo fur­ther points out that the pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port is of pub­lic in­ter­est.

“It is clearly com­mon cause that the is­suance of the re­port to rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers cou­pled with its pub­li­ca­tion for con­sump­tion by mem­bers of the pub­lic in the King­dom of Le­sotho is a mat­ter of great pub­lic con­cern. It is our hum­blest view that the cloud of un­cer­tainty and se­cre­tive man­ner with which the is­suance and pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port by your good in­sti­tu­tion is treated over an is­sue of pub­lic im­por­tance yields ‘na­tional preju-

dice’. It is clearly in this spirit that we urge your good in­sti­tu­tion to ad­vise us on all the rel­e­vant de­vel­op­ments per­tain­ing to the is­suance of the re­port.”

Speak­ing to the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day, Ad­vo­cate Phoofolo said the Ma­hao fam­ily had the right to know what could have hap­pened to their son.

“The Ma­haos are the in­ter­ested and im­por­tant party to iden­tify the killers of their son. The SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry came here to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances of their child’s death and all we are say­ing here is what­ever the rea­sons for the de­lay, SADC should at least give the fam­ily cour­tesy and in­form them. The Ma­haos must not hear things through ru­mour,” Adv Phoofolo said.

Asked if his of­fice had re­ceived any re­sponse from Dr Tax, Adv Phoofolo said he had not, “not even ac­knowl­edge­ment of re­ceipt from Dr Tax.”

Re­peated at­tempts by the Le­sotho Times to seek a com­ment from Dr Tax failed yes­ter­day.

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