Mahao’s trial finally takes off



MASERU – Slain Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant General Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Maaparankoe Mahao’s murder trial finally commenced in the High Court on Thursday this week.

Zimbabwean judge, Justice Charles Hungwe heard how Mahao was followed and his movements monitored in the time preceding his death on June 25, 2015. The army’s Lance Corporal Mokete Halahala told judge Hungwe that he was part of a team constituted to spy on the murdered army boss.

He said they had been given instructions to monitor the Mahao, mainly his meeting with policemen and any other people of interest but had to stop the exercise when he became aware of the moves.  Halahala says this is when he got to know about Mahao’s place of residence in Koalabata and his Mokema home. On August 29, 2014, Halahala says he was called by one Hlehlisi to report for duty and was picked by one Private Mosothoane from home. He states that upon arrival, he found other colleagues in possession of weapons and also had to take the remaining weapons with Mosothoane.

Halahala told the court that Hlehlisi announced to them that there are reports to the effect that police were going to arm an All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth brigade to attack those symphathisers and officials of the congress-leaning political parties. He said Hlehlisi later him that he had to show one Hashatsi and Sechele Mahao’s place of residence and was indeed driven to the Makoanyane football ground wherein he found Hashatsi.

He says him, one Private Posholi, Hashatsi and Sechele eventually drove to Koalabata on a mission to show his superiors (Sechele and Hashatsi) the late Mahao’s home. Upon the arrival he states that they saw a vehicle which they later noticed was branded POLICE leaving the yard.

The vehicle was peppered with a hail of bullets but managed to escape, according to the witness. “The car was branded police and I could hear my superiors whispering as to what was the next move,” he continued.

He narrated that when they got to the gate it was locked, but Hashati shot at the gate several times; and that a dog was shot in the process. He told the court that the two men shot at the house and cars several times before leaving.

When they left, he says, they went to the police headquarters where they met numerous military vehicles and it was clear that the soldiers had taken control of the premises. This, he said, was the case with other police stations they visited – such as the Maseru Central Charge Office and the Pitso Ground Police Station.

Halahala is the first state witness to testify and will testify along with 57 others. Fomer Prime Ministers Motsoahae Thabane and Pakalitha Mosisili have also been roped in as witnesses. In the case, retired army commander, Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli along with eight other soldiers have been charged in relation to the murder.

The other soldiers 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 trial has been postponed to today for purposes of continuing with evidence.


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