Min­is­ter de­nies SADC rep­ri­mand

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohlob Mohloboli

FOR­EIGN Affairs Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane on Tue Tues­day de­nied re­ceiv­ing a let­ter from SA SADC re­mind­ing govern­ment of its obliga obli­ga­tion to sup­port the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion Com­mis­sion.

The let­ter was writ writ­ten on 20 Oc­to­ber 2015 and fol­lowed an ap ap­pli­ca­tion lodged in the High Court by Spe­cial Forces Com­man­der Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo H Hashatsi.

The of­fi­cer was chal­leng­ing the Com­mis­sion’s au­thor au­thor­ity to in­ves­ti­gate the fa fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Maa Maa­parankoe Ma­hao on 2 25 June 2015 by his mil mil­i­tary col­leagues. Th The case is still be­fore th the High Court and govern­ment says it is the rea­son why the Phumaphi re­port has still not b been made pub­lic.

How­ever, SADC has since warned against in­ter­fer­ing with the Com­mis­sion whose in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan on 31 Au­gust and ended on 23 Oc­to­ber. Min­is­ter Sekhamane de­nies re­ceiv­ing such com­mu­ni­ca­tion from SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax.

The Le­sotho Times has how­ever, ob­tained a copy of the let­ter, which is ad­dressed to Mr Sekhamane.

Reads the SADC let­ter signed by Ms Tax: “With con­cern, we have been in­formed that one Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi of the Le­sotho De­fence Force is su­ing the Right Honourable Prime Min­is­ter and the SADC In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of Bri­gadier Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, in the High Court of Le­sotho. In his pa­pers, he dis­putes the Com­mis­sion’s au­thor­ity to in­ter­view him and craves that it be dis­banded.”

“The Honourable Min­is­ter may wish to re­call that on 3 July 2015 in Pre­to­ria, South Africa, the SADC Ex­tra­or­di­nary Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit es­tab­lished and adopted the Terms of Ref­er­ence of the Com­mis­sion. Sub­se­quently, at the meet­ing held from 1718 Au­gust 2015 in Gaborone, Botswana, the SADC Sum­mit reaf­firmed the Com­mis­sion’s Terms of Ref­er­ence.”

The let­ter fur­ther high­lights “Para­graph 7 (a)(i) of the Com­mis­sion’s Terms of Ref­er­ence”, which obliges govern­ment to co­op­er­ate with the probe “and en­sure un­hin­dered ac­cess to all places, per­sons or sources of in­for­ma­tion rel­e­vant to its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

But Min­is­ter Sekhamane said he was not aware of the let­ter and also told the Le­sotho Times that SADC would not make such de­mands.

Mr Sekhamane also spoke about govern­ment’s stance on the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion whose re­port was ex­pected to be un­veiled in Mozam­bique on 21 Novem­ber.

“Maybe the let­ter came last week while I was away in Malta, and be­sides, there is sim­ply no way SADC would rep­ri­mand Le­sotho over the Com­mis­sion.

“SADC called us to Mozam­bique to be part of the tabling of the re­port and we de­clined. In­stead, we wrote them a let­ter and told them that there was still a case in court ques­tion­ing the Com­mis­sion’s au­thor­ity. We in­formed SADC that we were still wait­ing for the court’s rul­ing on the au­thor­ity of the com­mis­sion,” Mr Sekhamane said.

For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane.

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