Lesotho: the madness continues

Dikarabo Ramadubu
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
(L) Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso (R) Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations – Hon Lesego Makgothi (L) Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso (R) Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations – Hon Lesego Makgothi

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers who shot and killed Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso on Monday before they also were killed by the Commander’s bodyguards, were accorded the necessary respect in accordance with military protocol.

They were saluted from the ground floor all the way to the top of a two-storey military headquarters building.

Little did their colleagues realise that in between the smiling faces and acknowledgement, were murderers in waiting determined to execute a well thought out plan to assassinate the Commander. 

Now with another dark cloud having befallen the Basotho nation, Lesotho government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tom Thabane is committed to adhering and implementing decisions aimed at finally bringing peace and stability to the Mountainous African Kingdom, which has earned the badge of the region’s headache.

Speaking to BG News in a telephone interview, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Lesego Makgothi said nothing will stop them from implementing the SADC recommendations not even an act of hooliganism that has led to the murdering of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander, who was shot dead by the Mutineers two days ago. 

The two mutineers who have since been killed have been named as Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Lt. Colonel Tefo Hashatsi who had been under criminal investigation.

Currently the situation is calm in Lesotho, but security has been beefed up at the prime minister’s residence and office, respective Ministerial offices and residences and the radio station. Military personnel has also been deployed on the streets to ensure the safety of all, he said.

At its 37th head of states and government summit in Pretoria last month, SADC gave Thabane’s administration until November 2017 to formulate a roadmap aimed at implementing SADC decisions, provided that he is not assassinated. Part of the SADC recommendations and decisions instructed Thabane to fire Lesotho’s Defence Force Commander, Lieutenant General Tladi Kamoli. 

The latter is believed to have been involved in the death of former LDF Commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao who was shot by fellow members of the LDF. Amongst the first step that the government took as part of implementing SADC recommendations was writing dismissal letters for five soldiers who were still working despite being above the mandatory retirement age limit of 55 years old.

Speaking to BG News and revealing what happened, Makgothi said LDF Commander Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso was gunned down in his office at the Lesotho Defence Force’s headquarters in Maseru.

“The murder took place on Monday just a day after I held a meeting with him to pave way for a meeting with the open arrest soldiers commonly referred to as mutineers. We met after reading the letter that was delivered to us by the Civic Society who wanted to have a meeting with Motsomotso. 

“I had asked the military hierarchy to formulate a position, because the mutineers are against the SADC recommendations. Key amongst their dispute is that the court marshal should not be dissolved. Further that it should not appear that they have been given amnesty as they went to the court marshal to clear their names,” said the minister. 

He added that, “As government, we told them that their demand cannot succeed as that forms part of the SADC resolution. Those guys also wanted to use the LDF Act selectively looking at only sections that favour them. They said they are not happy with Section 100 of the Act, while they were fine with section 2 which states that the prime minister can dissolve the court marshal.

“Their recommendation was that the court marshal should be repealed in the LDF Act. Their argument is that it should be used at administration level and not to appoint the president as the move legalises whole court.”

He said that based on the above, he asked the commander to go back and look at the demands and formulate his opinion. “We had agreed that we should have a follow up meeting on 7th September. On the same day I proceeded in the company of other ministers to have a meeting with the mutineers.”

He revealed that this week Monday a letter was delivered to the bodyguards of former LDF commander general Kamoli. These are the guys that shot a couple which parked their car near Kamodi’s residence. The letter was requesting them to appear before the police as the police have opened a case for the dead girl and injured male companion. “It appeared more like Hashatsi and Sechele were involved in the brutal killing of General Mahao,” the minister noted.

Makgothi said that on Monday at around 9am both Sechele and Hashatsi went into the LDF headquarters and went to the commander’s office which is a two-storey block building. “As they passed through their colleagues they were given complimentary salute as they are senior members of the army. Upon reaching the commander’s office the two found him having a meeting with the Public Relations Officer of LDF. The two exchanged words with the commander and the officers. 

Realising that they were not going anywhere, the commander requested them to wait outside his office in order to give him chance to complete his ongoing meeting. But instead of going out, Sechele took out the firearm and shot the commander to death”.

Makgothi said at this stage Hashatsi bolted outside the office caused and a bit of confusion. As he was running out Sechele also came out with his gun in the air but was shot and killed. 

At that stage Hashatsi had managed to run for a distance of 15 metres but was shot and badly injured. 

He later died in the hospital. Makgothi pointed out that at the time when the police were inspecting them they found hand grenades hidden and covered under the soil something that clearly shows that this was a planned assassination. 

Deputy Commander Major General Lineo Poopa has since taken over the command of LDF and is working hand in hand with the Air Wing Commander, Major General Letsoela. Makgothi told BG News that he immediately informed the SADC Executive Sectary Dr Stergomena Tax as well as all his regional counterparts, while Prime Minister Thabane spoke to President Jacob Zuma in his capacity as SADC chairman. 

SADC has since decided to deploy the Double Troika, Ministerial Double Troika and Defence Security Chief composed of both the Police and the army in a fact finding mission to Lesotho. 

The respective teams were scheduled to arrive in Lesotho by Wednesday and hold meetings with all stakeholders on the 8 to 9th.September 2017.

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