SADC mis­sion makes Shock Claims

As­serts that Sechele, Hashatsi met Kamoli just be­fore Motšo­motšo as­sas­si­na­tion States that Motšo­motšo had no sup­port from Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Re­porters

THE govern­ment sus­pects that the al­leged as­sas­sins of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo, met two days be­fore his shoot­ing death at the res­i­dence of for­mer army chief Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli along with for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (NSS) boss, Colonel Tumo Lekhooa.

The govern­ment also as­serts that Lt-gen Motšo­motšo had no sup­port from the Col Lekhooa-led Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence — which could have an­tic­i­pated the as­sas­si­na­tion plot. The al­leged as­sas­sins, Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, had also been slapped with “sus­pen­sion or dis­missal” let­ters prior to their fa­tal al­ter­ca­tion with Lt-gen Motšo­motšo.

Th­ese are some of the ex­plo­sive find­ings of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) Min­is­te­rial Dou­ble Troika factfind­ing mis­sion which was in Le­sotho ear­lier this month af­ter Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s as­sas­si­na­tion.

For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter, Le­sego Mak­gothi, would not be drawn to com­ment on the al­leged 3 Septem­ber 2017 meet­ing yes­ter­day, say­ing the mat­ter was part of on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the as­sas­si­na­tion.

While Mr Mak­gothi con­firmed the fact-find­ing mis­sion’s as­ser­tion that Lt-gen Motšo­motšo did not have the back­ing of the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence, he rub­bished its claim that Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi had been dis­missed.

Led by An­golan For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Ge­orges Re­belo Pinto Chikoti, the fact-find­ing mis­sion con­ducted an as­sess­ment of the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho and held meet­ings with key stake­hold­ers in the coun­try “in order to es­tab­lish the root causes of the as­sas­si­na­tion and sub­se­quently rec­om­mend the ap­pro­pri­ate cour­ses of ac­tion”.

Lt-gen Motšo­motšo was fa­tally shot on 5 Septem­ber 2017 by Brig Sechele at his Ratjo­mose bar­racks of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment’s ac­count of the in­ci­dent. Brig Sechele had been ac­com­pa­nied by Col Hashatsi on the fate­ful day.

Ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment’s ac­count, the two se­nior of­fi­cers had con­fronted Lt-gen Motšo­motšo over the po­lice’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of three army of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in the killing of a woman near the home of for­mer LDF com­man­der, Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli.

Lisebo Tang was shot dead on 10 May 2014 when the car she was sit­ting in with Tšepo 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-gen Kamoli’s premises.

Lt-gen Motšo­motšo had ex­plained that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­ing con­ducted in the spirit of im­ple­ment­ing SADC de­ci­sions to probe LDF mem­bers im­pli­cated in acts of crim­i­nal­ity. Upon hear­ing this, Brig Sechele al­legedly pulled out a firearm and fa­tally shot the army com­man­der.

Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi were mor­tally wounded in a hail of bul­lets from Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s body­guards who re­tal­i­ated out­side the of­fice com­plex. Three other LDF of­fi­cers were re­port­edly in Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi’s “en­tourage”.

One of the three, Ma­jor Pitso Ramoepane, was last Thurs­day charged with Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s mur­der in the Mag­is­trate’s Court. He is ex­pected to reap­pear be­fore the same court on 28 Septem­ber for a fol­low-up re­mand. Cap­tain Fo­nane was ar­rested this week, while Col Phaila is still on the run.

Last Fri­day, SADC held a one­day Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Pre­to­ria, South Africa to map the way for­ward fol­low­ing Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s as­sas­si­na­tion.

The agenda of the sum­mit, which was at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the gov­ern­ments of An­gola, Mozam­bique, Namibia, South Africa, Swazi­land and Tan­za­nia, was to con­sider the rec­om­men­da­tions of the SADC Min­is­te­rial Dou­ble Troika fact-find­ing mis­sion.

SADC also ac­qui­esced to Le­sotho’s re­quest for a standby force com­pris­ing mil­i­tary, se­cu­rity, in- tel­li­gence and civil­ian ex­perts to as­sist the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) in man­ag­ing the se­cu­rity cri­sis in the coun­try.

How­ever, the bloc man­dated de­fence and se­cu­rity chiefs from the re­gion to de­ter­mine the size, ten­ure and scope of the con­tin­gent force be­fore its de­ploy­ment to the Moun­tain King­dom.

The Le­sotho Times has seen a copy of the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit’s draft an­no­tated agenda, which states that Lt-gen Motšo­motšo and Act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Holomo Moli­beli had been man­dated with im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of a SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry which in­cluded the ap­pre­hen­sion of sol­diers who had com­mit­ted var­i­ous crimes.

The SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry was es­tab­lished in the af­ter­math of the fa­tal shoot­ing of for­mer LDF com­man­der Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao in June 2015 by his erst­while col­leagues.

The 10-mem­ber com­mis­sion led by Botswana judge, Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, car­ried out its in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­tween 31 Au­gust and 23 Oc­to­ber 2015. Among its rec­om­men­da­tions was crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the death of Lt-gen Ma­hao lead­ing to pros­e­cu­tion, 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.

Reads part of the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit’s draft agenda: “Just be­fore Chief of the De­fence Force was shot dead, he had given in­struc­tions to hand over the three mem­bers of the LDF sus­pected of the mur­der of one Lisebo Tang and at­tempted mur­der of Tšepo Jane to the po­lice. Even as that was done, there was an in­di­ca­tion of re­sis­tance by some se­nior LDF of­fi­cers who were fin­gered in the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry Re­port namely Brig Bu­lane Sechele end Col Tefo Hashatsi.”

De­spite ef­forts by Lt-gen Motšo­motšo to no­tify se­nior LDF of­fi­cers of the em­pha­sis of an Au­gust 2017 SADC Sum­mit on im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­forms, “it was clear to the govern­ment that the com­man­der did not have the full co­op­er­a­tion of some LDF se­nior of­fi­cers in par­tic­u­lar those who were fin­gered by the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry”.

“The govern­ment also noted that the chief of de­fence force had no sup­port from the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence (Ml) which was sup­posed to be his eyes and ears on the ground that could have served as the early warn­ing to the de­fence chief,” states the draft agenda.

The MI’S di­rec­tor is Col Lekhooa, who was fired as NSS di­rec­tor­gen­eral by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane in July this year and sent back to his old job. Col Lekhooa has since chal­lenged his re­de­ploy­ment in a case still be­fore the courts of law.

“Prior to all this, there have been re­ports that some mem­bers of the LDF have taken arms and am­mu­ni­tion from the ar­moury un­der the pre­text of con­duct­ing mil­i­tary exer- cises. It has been found out that the LDF com­mand could not ac­count for the said weapons and am­mu­ni­tion,” fur­ther reads the fact-find­ing mis­sion’s find­ings.

The mis­sion cites the train­ing of 300 mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Ox Bow “which was shrouded in se­crecy and which the govern­ment was not aware of”.

How­ever, act­ing LDF com­man­der Ma­jor-gen­eral Li­neo Poopa told the fact-find­ing mis­sion that the Ox Bow train­ing was stan­dard prac­tice for re­cruits.

The mis­sion also re­ported that the govern­ment sus­pected that se­cret meet­ings were con­tin­u­ing to take place.

“There is sus­pi­cion of meet­ings that con­tinue to take place, in­clud­ing on Sun­day the 3rd of Septem­ber at the res­i­dence of the for­mer com­man­der (Lt-gen Kamoli), that in­cluded the de­ceased as­sas­sins and the for­mer Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of In­tel­li­gence whose in­ten­tions is not known.

“There is need for clear de­ci­sive ac­tion by the govern­ment in order to be seen to be com­mit­ted to the pro­vi­sion of se­cu­rity for Le­sotho go­ing for­ward. The rule of law must be seen to be ap­plied in order to re­gain the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple of Le­sotho and SADC as a whole.”

The fact-find­ing mis­sion also dis­cov­ered that Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi had been given their march­ing or­ders by Lt-gen Motšo­motšo prior to the fa­tal al­ter­ca­tion.

“The two de­ceased of­fi­cers had re­ceived sus­pen­sion or dis­missal let­ters is­sued by the LDF com­man­der in a move to im­ple­ment the SADC Phumaphi Com­mis­sion rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at restor­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho.”

De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­istry Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Colonel Tanki Mothae, re­ferred this pub­li­ca­tion to For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Le­sego Mak­gothi when asked to com­ment on the re­port.

For his part, Mr Mak­gothi con­firmed that the govern­ment told the fact-find­ing mis­sion that Lt-gen Motšo­motšo did not have the back­ing of the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence.

“We said in our re­port to the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit that Gen­eral Motšo­motšo would not have died if he had the sup­port of the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence. With the sup­port of the Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence, some­thing like that would not have hap­pened,” he said.

The min­is­ter rub­bished the mis­sion’s claim that Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi had been dis­missed.

“Sechele and Hashatsi were not given let­ters of ter­mi­na­tion. They were not on con­tract and would not have been dis­missed like that. Due process would have been fol­lowed for them to be dis­missed,” he added.

THE late LDF com­man­der Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo

THE late Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo.

THE late Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

THE late Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele.

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