Ma­haos ‘cau­tiously wel­come’ Kamoli exit

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

THE fam­ily of slain army com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao has cau­tiously wel­comed the im­pend­ing exit of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, say­ing it was merely the first step in a long jour­ney to­wards grant­ing them jus­tice.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by sol­diers who had come to ar­rest him on al­le­ga­tions that he was part of a group of sol­diers plot­ting to over­throw the army lead­er­ship. How­ever, Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily has ac­cused the army of killing him in cold blood bas­ing on the ac­count of his nephews who were with him dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Af­ter the killing, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili asked SADC to help es­tab­lish the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the tragedy, re­sult­ing in a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana.

The 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion car­ried out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015 and rec­om­mended, among other things, that gov­ern­ment should in­ves­ti­gate the killing and pros­e­cute those found to be re­spon­si­ble.

It also rec­om­mended that “Lt Gen Kamoli be re­lieved of his du­ties as com­man­der of the LDF in the in­ter­est of restor­ing trust and ac­cep­tance of the LDF to the Ba­sotho na­tion and of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and trea­son be sus­pended while in­ves­ti­ga­tions in their cases pro­ceed in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice”.

A pub­lic no­tice re­leased this week by the Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Le­bo­hang Ramohlanka stated that Lt-gen Kamoli would leave of­fice on De­cem­ber 1.

He is ex­pected to hand over the reins to his deputy, Ma­jor-gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of negotiations with gov­ern­ment on his re­tire­ment in line with the Le­sotho De­fence Force Act No. 4 of 1996 sec­tion 23 (2).

How­ever, fam­ily spokesper­son Lehloenya Ma­hao this week told the Le­sotho Times his exit was “just part one and the re­moval of all other sol­diers im­pli­cated in his killing will cre­ate a con­ducive environment for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his killing to take place”.

“The Prime Min­is­ter had ear­lier said they would not im­ple­ment the In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions in their en­tirety and the re­moval of the army com­man­der is one of those that they said would not see the light of day,” Mr Ma­hao said, adding that the fact that the re­moval was only be car­ried out now af­ter sev­eral months was an in­di­ca­tion of the “long jour­ney we have ahead of us”.

He said the long de­lay in act­ing on the rec­om­men­da­tions sug­gested the gov­ern­ment did not want to re­move Lt Gen Kamoli and only did so be­cause of mount­ing pres­sure from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

“Gov­ern­ment was asked to make a road map on how they were go­ing to be im­ple­ment­ing the re­forms but there was a lot of hes­i­ta­tion.

“Af­ter Swazi­land ( SADC sum­mit in Au­gust), they have started im­ple­ment­ing and said he will be step­ping down and they are ne­go­ti­at­ing with him. But this is con­trary to what we saw when the for­mer Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana and Lt Gen Ma­hao were fired by the Prime Min­is­ter within a space of seven days fol­low­ing their re­ceipt of show cause let­ters.

“With Lt-gen Kamoli there has been a lot of hes­i­ta­tion on the part of gov­ern­ment to re­move him,” Mr Ma­hao said.

He said the move could have been prompted by the re­cent visit of US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for African Af­fairs, Am­bas­sador Linda Thomas-greenfield who mounted pres­sure on gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment re­forms as a pre­con­di­tion to re­tain its el­i­gi­bil­ity for the Africa Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA). Tens of thou­sands of jobs would be lost if the coun­try is kicked out of AGOA.

Mr Ma­hao said it was im­per­a­tive for gov­ern­ment to fol­low up Lt Gen Kamoli’s exit with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of all out­stand­ing SADC rec­om­men­da­tions in­clud­ing the re­moval of other sol­diers im­pli­cated in Ma­hao’s killing.

“Po­lice said the army de­nied them ac­cess to make in­ves­ti­ga­tions. And we be­lieve if that group is re­moved, the in­ves­ti­ga­tions will take place,” Mr Ma­hao said.

He said the Ma­hao fam­ily be­lieved that the team of 25 po­lice of­fi­cers and 25 sol­diers lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Ma­hao’s killing could have been com­pro­mised as they had re­ceived train­ing from some of the sol­diers sus­pected in his killing.

“We re­ject (SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tor Cyril) Ramaphosa’s en­dorse­ment of these in­ves­ti­ga­tors as we be­lieve that they were com­pro­mised the day some of the sol­diers im­pli­cated in the killing of our son were brought in as their train­ers.

“We are also aware that the pro­posed amnesty bill is an at­tempt by gov­ern­ment to ab­solve the sol­diers who should be pros­e­cuted for the killing,” Mr Ma­hao said.

The Amnesty Bill 2016 is still be­ing drafted by De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Tšeliso Mokhosi. If passed into law, the bill would see mem­bers of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF), Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice, Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and “any other per­son” be­ing granted amnesty for of­fences com­mit­ted be­tween Jan­uary 2007 and De­cem­ber 2015.

The amnesty would ex­tend to mem­bers of the LDF whom the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity had rec­om­mended should face pros­e­cu­tion.

Mr Ma­hao said al­though there were sev­eral ob­sta­cles, the fam­ily was pre­pared to do ev­ery­thing to en­sure jus­tice was de­liv­ered.

“We have been told that the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions will de­ter­mine whether there is a case against the sol­diers im­pli­cated in the killing and should he give the nod, gov­ern­ment is al­ready pre­par­ing the amnesty bill to free the sus­pects.

But we are ready to face such man-made hic­cups aimed at deny­ing us jus­tice and ab­solve the killers,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.