How Motšo­motšo was killed

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Writer

THE Lesotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS)’S in­ves­ti­ga­tion of three army of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in the killing of a woman near the home of for­mer Lesotho De­fence Force ( LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, was the “spark” that ig­nited the brazen Tues­day morn­ing gun bat­tle which re­sulted in the killing of LDF com­man­der Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo, the Lesotho Times can re­veal.

Con­trary to wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s killers, Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Brigadier Bu­lane Sechele, mus­cled their way into the army com­man­der’s of­fice at Ratjo­mose bar­racks, they were al­lowed to en­ter while armed by the LDF com­man­der’s se­cu­rity de­tail ow­ing to their sta­tus as se­nior of­fi­cers who en­joyed reg­u­lar ac­cess to their boss.

This is ac­cord­ing to For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Le­sego Mak­gothi, who also re­vealed that Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele had come to con­front Lt-gen Motšo­motšo on the is­sue of the three LDF mem­bers who were be­ing in­ter­ro­gated by the po­lice over the 10 May 2014 shoot­ing of Lisebo Tang and Tšepo Jane near Lt-gen Kamoli’s Ha Le­qele res­i­dence.

Ms Tang was killed when the car she was sit­ting in with Mr Jane was pep­pered with bul­lets by LDF mem­bers guard­ing the home of Lt-gen Kamoli. She died on the scene of shoot­ing, with Mr Jane sus­tain­ing se­ri­ous in­juries and taken to the Makoanyane Mil­i­tary Hospi­tal. A po­lice re­port stated that the ve­hi­cle in which they were sit­ting was shot 123 times by the sol­diers guard­ing Lt-gen­eral Kamoli’s premises.

Po­lice spokesper­son, In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli, yes­ter­day con­firmed that the three LDF mem­bers were be­ing in­ter­ro­gated at the time of the at­tack and were re­leased there­after.

Mr Mak­gothi said Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele ex­pressed con­cern that they were not be­ing “pro­tected” from pros­e­cu­tion by Lt-gen Motšo­motšo.

“The three of­fi­cers who were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the po­lice for some crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties sparked the whole thing. It was the spark be­cause the al­leged killers (Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele) ac­tu­ally went to Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s of­fice over the mat­ter,” the For­eign Min­is­ter said in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

Mr Mak­gothi said the duo did not strug­gle to en­ter Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s of­fice, which is in a two-storey com­plex, ow­ing to their sta­tus as se­nior of­fi­cers.

“Be­ing se­nior of­fi­cers, they (Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele) went in and were given the com­pli­men­tary salute and went through the scan­ning process which de­tected that one of them had a firearm.

“But since they were high rank­ing of­fi­cers, the ju­nior of­fi­cers (man­ning the scan­ning ma­chine) did not ask them to leave their firearms be­hind. So they went in, and when they en­tered the gen­eral’s of­fice, they ex­changed a few words with him.”

The min­is­ter said Lt-gen Motšo­motšo was with a pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer “who saw ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing”.

“And they (Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele) said to the gen­eral why are you leav­ing us in the hands of the po­lice? We are not feel­ing safe, so we have told those three guys not to go to the po­lice.

“The gen­eral re­sponded say­ing if you still don’t un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing, please wait out­side a bit so that I call you in to clar­ify why we have to do this.”

Mr Mak­gothi said Lt-gen Motšo­motšo ex­plained to the duo that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in line with the de­ci­sions of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) which had called for a probe of LDF mem­bers im­pli­cated in acts of crim­i­nal­ity.

The SADC de­ci­sions stem from rec­om­men­da­tions made by a Com- mis­sion of In­quiry es­tab­lished by the re­gional bloc fol­low­ing the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer LDF com­man­der, Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, by his for­mer col­leagues in June 2015.

Led by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi of Botswana, the com­mis­sion probed the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Lt-gen Ma­hao’s killing and the root causes for Lesotho’s peren­nial in­sta­bil­ity.

The Phumaphi Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended that the gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­gate Lt-gen Ma­hao’s killing and pros­e­cute those found re­spon­si­ble.

It also rec­om­mended the sus­pen­sion of LDF of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in cases of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der and trea­son while in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the al­le­ga­tions pro­ceeded in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice.

“This (in­ves­ti­ga­tion) is in ful­fil­ment of a man­date by SADC. We can­not, this time around, over­look it. We have to fol­low it through,” LtGen Motšo­motšo had told Messrs Hashatsi and Sechele, ac­cord­ing to Mr Mak­gothi.

“How­ever, ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be done ac­cord­ing to the book. But if you don’t feel safe, just wait out- side and I will call you.”

The m min­is­ter said one of the two offic of­fi­cers (Brig Sechele) then took outou a firearm and fa­tally shot Lt-genLtMotšo­motšo.

“The oth­ero one (Col Hashatsi) went ou out quickly af­ter the gen­eral waswa shot and did not have a firearm with him. The (Lt-gen Motšom Motšo­motšo’s) body­guards were a lit­tle bit per­plexed be­cause they ha had heard gun­shots.

“And when the sec­ond one (Brig Sechele)S came out with his firea firearm up in the air, that is when theyth re­alised that some­thing hadh hap­pened and ex­change fire and he was shot and he died on the spot.

“The oth­ero one (Col Hashatsi) was aboutab 15 me­tres away and got caught­cau in a hail of bul­lets. But he did not die im­me­di­ately ately. They took him to the hos­pit hospi­tal to sta­bilise him.” Mr Mak­gothi con­tin­ued: “The one who died on the grou ground floor (Brig Sechele) had a hand grenade with hi him. They also found a h hand grenade on the s sec­ond one, but it was cov­ered in stones at the cor­ner of the gen­eral’s of­fice.”

Mean­while, Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Tanki Mothae, told the Lesotho Times yes­ter­day that an LDF of­fi­cer was de­tained in con­nec­tion with the Tues­day at- tack.

“The LDF of­fi­cer was not part of the at­tack­ers, but was seen in the vicin­ity. So he has been de­tained to help the po­lice es­tab­lish ex­actly what hap­pened,” he said.

The Lesotho Times is in­formed by other sources in the LDF that Col Hashatsi and Brig Sechele had been brand­ing LtGen Motšo­motšo a “sell out” for co­op­er­at­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

Lt-gen Motšo­motšo had re­placed Lt-gen Kamoli in De­cem­ber 2016 af­ter sus­tained pres­sure from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity for his re­moval in line with SADC rec­om­men­da­tions.

Since Dr Tha­bane’s re­turn to power, af­ter the 3 June 2017 elec­tions, Lt-gen Motšo­motšo had been co­op­er­at­ing with the premier. He was now fa­cil­i­tat­ing the LMPS in­ves­ti­ga­tions of nu­mer­ous mem­bers of the LDF in­volved in atroc­i­ties un­der LtGen Kamoli’s ten­ure in­clud­ing those who bombed the homes of Dr Tha­bane’s wife Maisiah Tha­bane and the LMPS com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana in Jan­uary 2014.

the late Colonel tefo hashatsi (left) and brigadier bu­lane Sechele

The late LDF com­man­der Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo

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