GOVT AP­POINTS NEW ARMY COM­MAN­DERS

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

FOR­MER Air­wing Com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mo­jalefa Ex­av­ery Let­soela, has been ap­pointed the new com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) as the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues with ef­forts to re­struc­ture the se­cu­rity sec­tor and weed out el­e­ments as­so­ci­ated with de­tained for­mer com­man­der Tlali Kennedy Kamoli.

Lt-gen Let­soela re­places Ma­jor Gen­eral Li­neo Poopa who has been act­ing com­man­der since the 5 Septem­ber 2017 as­sas­si­na­tion of Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo by his sub­or­di­nates, Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

Gov­ern­ment also made fur­ther sig­nif­i­cant changes to the LDF top brass, ap­point­ing sea­soned sol­dier Matela Ma­to­bakele as Deputy Com­man­der. He has also been pro­moted to the rank of Ma­jor Gen­eral.

Maj-gen Poqa Mo­toa, who pre­vi­ously held the rank of Bri­gadier, has also been ap­pointed as Chief of Staff for Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Hu­man Re­source af­fairs while Ma­jor Gen­eral Ra­manka Mokaloba, (pre­vi­ously a Bri­gadier) was ap­pointed In­spec­tor Gen­eral of the LDF.

The Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity, Colonel Tanki Mothae (Re­tired), this week con­firmed Lt-gen Let­soela’s and other ap­point­ments. Lt-gen Let­soela’s ap­point­ment is with ef­fect from 23 Jan­uary 2018 while the other ap­point­ments are with ef­fect from 24 Jan­uary 2014. Colonel Mothae added that Ma­jGen Poopa had been re­tired with im­me­di­ate ef­fect pend­ing re­de­ploy­ment else­where in gov­ern­ment. The na­tion will be in­formed of Maj-gen Poopa’s new as­sign­ment in due course, he said.

Colonel Mothae said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing, that more changes would be made at the LDF in the com­ing months.

He said His Majesty King Let­sie III, act­ing on the ad­vice of Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, had de­cided to ap­point Lt-gen Let­soela as the new LDF head with ef­fect from 23 Jan­uary 2017.

He de­scribed the ap­point­ment as “crit­i­cal in the re­struc­tur­ing of the LDF”.

The de­fence prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary said Ma­jGen Poopa’s re­tire­ment fol­lowed dis­cus­sions the out­go­ing com­man­der had with the Prime Min­is­ter.

“The Prime Min­is­ter held dis­cus­sions with Maj-gen Li­neo Poopa and he has since been re­tired. The na­tion will be in­formed of his next ap­point­ment as agreed with the Prime Min­is­ter,” Col Mothae said.

Maj Gen Poopa was ap­pointed act­ing com­man­der fol­low­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of LtGen Motšo­motšo, who was gunned down by Bri­gadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi , at his Ratjo­mose Bar­racks of­fices in Maseru.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, the two killed Lt-gen Motšo­motšo after ac­cus­ing him of “sell­ing them out” after his de­ci­sion to hand over var­i­ous mem­bers of the LDF ac­cused of var­i­ous crimes dur­ing Lt-gen Kamoli’s reign to the po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tion.

Lt-gen Motšo­motšo, who had served as Lt-gen Kamoli’s deputy, dur­ing the lat­ter’s reign of ter­ror pe­riod, had made an about turn and started fully co­op­er­at­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s coali­tion which took power after the June 3 snap plebiscite.

“The po­lice have an in­ter­est in some se­nior army of­fi­cers who can­not be in­ter­ro­gated at the mo­ment be­cause of their po­si­tions. There­fore, some dras­tic changes will have to be made in the LDF to fa­cil­i­tate in­ves­ti­ga­tions

Lt-gen Motšo­motšo had told Messrs Hashatsi and Sechele that he had no op­tion but to co­op­er­ate in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a SADC com­mis­sion of in­quiry re­port which rec­om­mended the pros­e­cu­tion of all LDF of­fi­cers in­volved in var­i­ous atroc­i­ties un­der Kamoli.

Two ju­nior LDF of­fi­cers, Cor­po­ral Tjekane Se­bo­lai and Pri­vate Selone Ratšiu, had al­ready been handed over to the po­lice for in­ter­ro­ga­tion over the fa­tal shoot­ing of Lisebo Tang near Lt-gen Tlali Kamoli’s res­i­dence in Ha Le­qele in May 2014.

Ms Tang, who was in the com­pany of her part­ner, was shot after be­ing in­ex­pli­ca­bly mis­taken for a per­son in­tend­ing to cause harm to Lt-gen Kamoli.

Sev­eral for­mer LDF of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing LtGen Kamoli him­self, are now in de­ten­tion over var­i­ous other atroc­i­ties in­clud­ing the mur­der of for­mer army com­man­der, Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, the shoot­ing of Le­sotho

Times Editor Lloyd Mu­tungamiri, the bomb­ings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Mae­sa­iah Tha­bane and the Ha Abia res­i­dence of for­mer Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Khothatso Tšooana, among other cases.

None of the sol­diers in­volved in the atroc­i­ties had been pros­e­cuted un­der the Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led seven party coali­tion regime, with the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) leader say­ing SADC rec­om­men­da­tions were not bind­ing.

How­ever, Dr Tha­bane, whose All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) and its coali­tion part­ners had born the big­gest brunt of Lt-gen Kamoli’s ex­cesses, moved fast to im­ple­ment SADC rec­om­men­da­tions after as­sum­ing power in June 2017.

Even though Dr Tha­bane had the grace to ap­point Maj-gen Poopa as act­ing com­man­der in the wake of Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s mur­der, sources said that Maj-gen Poopa would never be con­firmed to be­come sub­stan­tive head of the LDF.

This was be­cause his name had loomed large in some of the Kamoli era atroc­i­ties. Maj-gen Poopa’s name looms large in LtGen Kamoli’s at­tempted coup of 30 Au­gust 2014 dur­ing which the LDF raided po­lice sta­tions, seized arms and the killing of po­lice of­fi­cer, Sub In­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko.

The sources said more se­nior sol­diers would be in­ves­ti­gated and ar­raigned in line with the SADC rec­om­men­da­tions. So far noone has been ac­tu­ally charged over the 30 Au­gust 2014 coup at­tempt which was con­demned widely as an il­le­gal act.

Maj-gen Poopa is also sus­pected of hav­ing a hand in the es­cape of for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice, Colonel Tumo Lekhooa, whom the po­lice wanted to in­ter­ro­gate. Col Lekhooa is al­leged to have fled the coun­try and has not been seen or heard of since. It is un­der­stood that the po­lice had ap­pealed to Maj-gen Poopa to as­sist in the ar­rest of Tumo Lekhooa to no avail.

“The po­lice have an in­ter­est in some se­nior army of­fi­cers who can­not be in­ter­ro­gated at the mo­ment be­cause of their po­si­tions. There­fore, some dras­tic changes will have to be made in the LDF to fa­cil­i­tate in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” one of the sources said.

Another source also added: “Not so lon­gago, SADC spoke of some rogue sol­diers who were likely to cause trou­ble, and that these sol­diers needed to be iso­lated. We are likely to see the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of these high-rank­ing sol­diers by the po­lice now that the po­si­tion of the com­man­der has been sub­stan­tively filled by a pro­fes­sional man.”

Lt-gen Let­soela’s Bi­og­ra­phy

Lt-gen Let­soela joined the army in March 1987. He en­rolled in the Pi­lot Pupils Course at Dun­no­tar Cen­tral Fly­ing School in Pre­to­ria, South Africa in 1992. He re­ceived his fly­ing wings in Novem­ber 1992 and pro­ceeded to the Multi-en­gine Fly­ing School (MEFS) for an Op­er­a­tional Con­ver­sion Course at Bloem­spruit Air Base in Bloem­fontein, South Africa in 1993.

There­after, he re­turned to Le­sotho as full time op­er­a­tional pi­lot for sub­se­quent type rat­ings on ser­vice Casa 212 and Cessna 182Q air­craft. He at­tended sev­eral aviation train­ing cour­ses and mil­i­tary staff ap­point­ment preparatory train­ing pro­grammes.

He rose through the ranks hold­ing dif­fer­ent staff ap­point­ments in­clud­ing Fly­ing In­struc­tor, Base Flight Safety Of­fi­cer and Di­rec­tor: Air Op­er­a­tions and Train­ing. He en­rolled for a two-year diploma non-res­i­dent train­ing pro­gramme on Air­craft Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der the aus­pices of the Sin­ga­pore Aviation Academy (SAA) from 2006 to 2008.

Upon grad­u­a­tion from Sin­ga­pore Aviation Academy, he at­tended the Joint Com­mand and Staff Course (Se­nior Divi­sion) at the Zim­babwe Staff Col­lege in 2009, in Harare, Zim­babwe.

Con­cur­rently, he pur­sued a part-time Diploma in De­fence and Strate­gic Se­cu­rity Stud­ies and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe. He was ap­pointed Deputy Air­wing Com­man­der in 2011, oc­cu­py­ing the rank of Ma­jor.

He was pro­moted to Air­wing Com­man­der in Au­gust 2013, oc­cu­py­ing the rank of Bri­gadier. In 2014, he at­tended the Ex­ec­u­tive Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pro­gramme at the South African Na­tional De­fence Col­lege in Pre­to­ria be­fore he was pro­moted to the rank of Ma­jor Gen­eral as the Air­wing Com­man­der in Novem­ber 2016.

He was awarded sev­eral medals for ex­cel­lence, in­clud­ing the Mil­i­tary Gal­lantry, Mil­i­tary Brave Deeds, Mil­i­tary Mer­i­to­ri­ous and Mil­i­tary Ser­vice Medal.

LT Gen Mo­jalefa Ex­av­ery Let­soela

NEWLY ap­pointed LDF Com­man­der Lt-gen Mo­jalefa Let­soela.

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