FAM­ILY DE­MANDS MA­HAO’S RE­IN­STATE­MENT

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Her­bert Moyo

THE fam­ily of the late Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao has writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment re­quest­ing that he be posthu­mously re­in­stated as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

They also re­quested the gov­ern­ment and the LDF to per­form a “mil­i­tary hon­ours cer­e­mony” at his grave­side in Mokema “be­fit­ting a sol­dier and of­fi­cer of his rank”. In an in­ter­view with the Leso

tho Times last night, the newly ap­pointed Le­sotho De­fence Force Com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mo­jalefa Let­soela said the Ma­haos’ re­quest was be­ing han­dled by the Min­istry of De­fence and had not yet been re­ferred to his of­fice.

“I will only know of the de­ci­sion we are go­ing to take when I re­ceive a di­rec­tive from the Min­istry of De­fence. For now, the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of De­fence (Colonel Tanki Mothae) is in a bet­ter po­si­tion to com­ment on the mat­ter,” Lt-gen Let­soela said.

How­ever, Colonel Mothae was not reach­able for com­ment on his mo­bile phone.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was fa­tally shot by his erst­while LDF col­leagues on 25 June 2015 just out­side Maseru. The LDF claimed Lt-gen Ma­hao had re­sisted ar­rest for al­legedly lead­ing a mutiny when he was killed but that claim was dis­missed as a hoax by a re­gional in­quiry into his death.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily ac­cused the army of killing him in cold blood bas­ing on the ac­count of his neph­ews who were with him dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Lt-gen Ma­hao was ap­pointed as LDF com­man­der on 29 Au­gust 2014 af­ter Prime Min­is­ter, Thomas Tha­bane, fired Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion. How­ever, Lt-gen Kamoli re­jected the dis­missal chal­leng­ing its le­git­i­macy and pro­ceeded to launch state a coup at­tempt in Au­gust 2014. The coup at­tempt kick started a chain of events that led to snap elec­tions in early 2015.

Af­ter Dr Tha­bane re­lin­quished power in the wake of the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions, the sev­en­party coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Pakalitha Mo­sisili re­in­stated LtGen Kamoli, ar­gu­ing that his dis­missal and Lt-gen Ma­hao’s pro­mo­tion were all illegal.

Lt Gen Kamoli was re­in­stated in a Gov­ern­ment Gazette dated 21 May 2015 with an­other gazette is­sued on the same day ter­mi­nat­ing LtGen Ma­hao’s ap­point­ment as LDF com­man­der and re­vert­ing him to a bri­gadier.

Lt-gen Ma­hao chal­lenged his de­mo­tion in the High Court with the case not see­ing the light of day af­ter he was killed on 25 June 2015 by his LDF col­leagues.

The LDF claimed that Lt-gen Ma­hao had been shot while re­sist- ing ar­rest over an al­leged mutiny plot.

How­ever, the army’s ver­sion was dis­missed by both the sol­dier’s fam­ily and the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) com­mis­sion of in­quiry headed by re­tired judge Mphaphi Phumaphi.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily ac­cused the army of killing him in cold blood, bas­ing on the ac­count of his neph­ews who were with him dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Jus­tice Phumaphi’s 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion car­ried out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015 and found that Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s ap­point­ment of Lt-gen Ma­hao as army com­man­der was le­gal.

SADC rec­om­mended, among other things, that the gov­ern­ment should in­ves­ti­gate the killing of Lt-gen Ma­hao and pros­e­cute those found to be re­spon­si­ble.

In their 11 Fe­bru­ary 2018 let­ter to the Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary, Moahloli Mphaka, the Ma­haos re- quested that “by a Gov­ern­ment Gazette, Lt-gen Ma­hao must be re­in­stated posthu­mously as LDF Com­man­der and at the rank of LtGen”.

“Such a gazette is the right thing to do to cor­rect the il­le­gal­ity com­mit­ted by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment when it pur­ported to re­move and de­mote him from those po­si­tions without any ba­sis in law.

“The fam­ily is also con­vinced that as part of right­ing the wrongs of the for­mer gov­ern­ment, it is proper for the LDF to per­form the mil­i­tary hon­ours cer­e­mony at Lt-gen Ma­hao’s place of in­ter­ment at Mokema as be­fit­ting a sol­dier and of­fi­cer of his rank.

“While it is com­mon cause that the fam­ily pre­vented the for­mer gov­ern­ment and LDF Com­mand from hav­ing any role in Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fu­neral pro­ceed­ings be­cause we deemed them prime sus­pects in his planned as­sas­si­na­tion, we be­lieve the time is now ripe for the cer­e­mony.

“The changes that have oc­curred in gov­ern­ment and in the com­mand of the LDF pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for Lt-gen Ma­hao’s dignified send­off,” part of the let­ter states.

The fam­ily re­quested that the mil­i­tary send-off be held on and close to 25 June- the an­niver­sary of Lt-gen Ma­hao’s as­sas­si­na­tion.

The fam­ily also thanked the gov­ern­ment for their co­op­er­a­tion with the fam­ily which has thus far seen the ar­rest of eight sol­diers in con­nec­tion with his mur­der among things.

The eight army of­fi­cers are Cap­tain Litekanyo Nyakane, Cap­tain Ha­leo Makara, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Mot­samai Fako, Cor­po­ral Marasi ‘Moleli, Cor­po­ral Motšoane Machai, Cor­po­ral Mohlalefi Seitl­heko and Cor­po­ral Tšitso Ramo­holi.

THE late army com­man­der Gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao

LDF Com­man­der Lt-gen Mo­jalefa Let­soela.

THE late Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

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