Sechele had che­quered ca­reer

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

BRIGADIER Bu­lane An­drew Sechele’s ( pic­tured) death in Tues­day’s gun bat­tle which also claimed the lives of Lesotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der the LDF Lieu­tenant Gen­eral (Lt Gen) Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi at Ratjo­mose Bar­racks, brought to an end a long and some­what con­tro­ver­sial mil­i­tary ca­reer dat­ing back to 1996 when he joined as a ju­nior sol­dier oc­cu­py­ing a rank of Pri­vate.

Also a lawyer by train­ing, Brig Sechele rose through the ranks and he first gained pub­lic at­ten­tion for his work in the army’s le­gal depart­ment in 2010 where he served as a pros­e­cu­tor in the Court Mar­tial which tries sol­diers on dis­ci­plinary and crim­i­nal cases that are de­fined un­der the Lesotho De­fence Force Act of 1996.

It was dur­ing that time when he ad­dressed some mem­bers of the LDF in ef­fort to win their sup­port to chal­lenge a new law that had been passed to in­tro­duce a con­trib­u­tory pen­sion fund for pub­lic of­fi­cers in­clud­ing sol­diers.

Be­fore then, gov­ern­ment had been the sole contributor to a con­sol­i­dated fund which would ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit pub­lic ser­vants.

Brig Sechele’s ac­tiv­i­ties thus brought him into the spot­light as he be­came un­pop­u­lar with the-then army com­mand, which ac­cused him of caus­ing in­sta­bil­ity within the army.

Un­de­terred, he uni­lat­er­ally filed a con­sti­tu­tional case be­fore the High Court chal­leng­ing the Pub­lic Of­fi­cers’ De­fined Con­tri­bu­tion Pen­sion Fund Act of 2008, ar­gu­ing that the law vi­o­lated his rights be­cause he was not con­sulted be­fore it was en­acted.

He con­tended that his salary was his per­sonal prop­erty and it would be af­fected by the law which pro­vided that pub­lic of­fi­cers should con­trib­ute five per­cent of their salaries into the pen­sion fund.

He cited as the re­spon­dents, among oth­ers, the Pub­lic Of­fi­cers De­fined Con­tri­bu­tion Pen­sion Fund, then LDF Com­man­der, Lt Gen Thuso Motanyane, and for­mer De­fence Min­is­ter, Pakalitha Mo­sisili who was also Prime Min­is­ter at the time.

He lost the chal­lenge and ap­pealed against the judg­ment but lost again be­fore the Court of Ap­peal in April 2011.

How­ever, the Court of Ap­peal or­dered that the clause re­lat­ing to the money a pen­sioner should get should be amended to in­clude that the pen­sion should not be less than what ben­e­fi­cia­ries got be­fore the en­act­ment of the law.

The case set a prece­dent which is of­ten cited by lawyers in cases of com­plaints by for­mer civil ser­vants in pen­sion is­sues.

Brig Sechele pros­e­cuted a case against for­mer army com­man­der, Lt Gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, be­fore the Court Mar­tial.

Lt Gen Ma­hao had been ar­raigned on charges of in­tim­i­dat­ing the now de­ceased Colonel Tefo Hashatsi in 2013.

Col Hashatsi, who at the time was a cap­tain head­ing the Spe­cial Forces depart­ment of the army had warned his sub­or­di­nates at the pa­rade against post­ing is­sues re­lat­ing to the then army com­mand on the so­cial me­dia.

Lt-gen Ma­hao, who was then a brigadier called Col Hashatsi and told him to stop telling his sub­or­di­nates what he had told them be­cause the army was ul­ti­mately un­der “civil­ian con­trol”.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was charged un­der the sec­tions of the Lesotho De­fence Force Act of 1996 for al­legedly in­tim­i­dat­ing Col Hashatsi.

How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, dis­solved the court mar­tial, fired Lt-gen Tlali Kennedy Kamoli and ap­point Lt-gen Ma­hao as army com­man­der.

The ten­sion be­tween what was con­sid­ered the Ma­hao and the Kamoli fac­tions in­ten­si­fied and Brig Sechele, who was be­lieved to be loyal to the lat­ter headed an in­ves­ti­gat­ing team which ar­rested 23 sol­diers on mutiny charges.

The op­er­a­tion to ar­rest those army of­fi­cers re­sulted in the shoot­ing of Lt-gen Ma­hao near his Mokema home on 25 June 2015.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s killing ig­nited in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and then premier, Dr Mo­sisili asked SADC to probe his death.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s death also put Brig Sechele on the spot­light as he com­manded the LDF op­er­a­tion that claimed the life of Lt Gen Ma­hao.

He even tes­ti­fied to that ef­fect be­fore the SADC 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.

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