Witness says he was tasked to spy on Mahao



MASERU – A witness in the murder trial of the late army boss Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao has said he was part of a team of soldiers mandated to spy on the commander.

Lance Corporal Mokete Halahala of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)’s Special Forces told the High Court last Thursday that at the time he was temporarily attached to the Military Intelligence (MI) he was tasked to spy on Mahao.

He said part of his duties was to find out who Mahao was meeting and when, adding that the job entailed tailing Mahao wherever he went. Halahala told the court how he was part of a team of intelligence operatives who went to Mahao’s Koalabata residence on the night of August 29, 2014.

Halahala said he was in the company of other soldiers, including one Posholi, along with the late Tefo Hashatsi and Bulane Sechele. He said they had earlier been told by Lieutenant Hlehlisi that the police were going to give weapons to All Basotho Convention (ABC) youths which they would use to attack their Congress counterparts.

On the way to Mahao’s home, he said they met a police vehicle and Hashatsi together with Sechele fired at it, but the car sped away. The witness said when they arrived at Mahao’s residence Hashatsi, who was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, fired at the gate while Sechele, who was armed with a galil rifle, shot the family dog dead.

Minutes later, he said Sechele jumped over the fence and started shooting at Mahao’s house and vehicles. The court heard how the shooting which had lasted a couple of minutes was interrupted by a phone call that Hashatsi had received.

They, thereafter, drove to the Police Headquarters where army personnel had taken control of the building, he said. The witness also narrated how they later attacked and captured several police stations in Maseru, including the Maseru Charge Office, the Mabote Police Station and Pitso Ground Police Station.

He said during that operation, he heard over army radio that Mahao had taken command of the LDF from Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli.

Meanwhile, the trial was last Friday postponed to June 16, after one of the defence lawyers, King’s Counsel Zwelakhe Mda withdrew from the case.

His replacement, Advocate Napo Mafaesa had, therefore, asked the court for time to consult his new clients.

When the matter resumes next week the Crown, represented by Senior Counsel Shaun Abrahams from South Africa, is expected to continue leading its evidence.

The other accused in the matter include Motsamai Fako, Motšoane Machae, Tšitso Ramoholi, Litekanyo Nyakane, Haleo Makara, Lekhooa Moepi, Marasi ’Moleli and Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

They face multiple charges including attempted murder, theft, obstruction of justice, damage to property, aggravated assault and risk of injury or death.

Most of these crimes allegedly occurred in Ha Lekete on the outskirts of Maseru and at the Ratjomose Army Headquarters in Maseru on June 25, 2015, the day Mahao was killed execution style. The case continues before Justice Charles Hungwe.

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