Friends of General Mahao seek justice

They say his towering sacrifice shall not be in vain

TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI

MASERU – Solidarity movement Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS) has called government to find courage to put its foot down to remove hurdles to a prompt, swift, transparent, and complete prosecution of the killers of slain army boss Lieutenant (Lt Gen) Maaparankoe Mahao.

The APS is an association formed by friends, comrades and peers of Lt Gen Mahao after his brutal gunning down by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in June 2015 to promote his legacy of the defense of the rule of law and human rights.

Mahao was murdered in cold blood by operatives of the LDF at Ha Lekete, outside his home village of Mokema outside the capital Maseru, an incident that came on the heels of an acrimonious termination of his commission as Commander of the soldiers at whose hands he met his tragic end.

He was on the way from his farm in Mokema, in the company of two young nephews who witnessed this gruesome onslaught, when he was ambushed and killed.

“We wish to salute all the citizen organisations and individuals who in their different ways contributed to the realization of our country’s emergence from the dark years of the reign of terror that took the life of Comrade Mahao, and vow to ensure that as we dip our banners in celebration of his illustrious life of defense of human rights and the rule of law, his towering sacrifice shall not be in vain,” the APS said in a statement issued in Maseru on Monday.

The association has called on all citizens of good conscience to prevail on their leaders in politics and government not to submit to a temptation to deviate from the covenant struck to “cleanse ourselves of the vices of greed, moral degeneration, lawlessness, and impunity whose recycling has not only reduced us to a laughing stock of other nations but also made wanton deprivation of people’s lives a regular sport of the mighty and powerful among us.”

The APS appealed to the Basotho nation to never allow the government to slide back on this course in its name.  

“We call upon the prime minister and government to remain vigilant to their ultimate responsibility and obligation to the nation for a demonstrable restoration of the rule of law, without which we shall never have a stable government and attain our potential for a shared prosperity.

As the many international appeals and Southern African Development Community (SADC) communiqués’ have indicated, it is the responsibility of government to ensure that justice is meted to those who have erred against community and the laws of the country,” reads the statement in part.

Other eminent victims of state-sponsored murders the APS wants government to hastily bring to closure issues surrounding the killing of the Matholeng, Mafeteng, boys who were allegedly killed by elements of the LDF – the trio, Thabang Mosole,  Monyane Matsie, and Pakiso Ntala Letatabe were brutally shot in cold blood by five LDF soldiers outside their home village of Ha Motanyane,  after following them from a public entertainment outlet in Matholeng, Mafeteng.

Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko who was murdered by LDF raiders of the Police Headquarters on the night of August 29, 2014; the night the army also attacked the official residence of former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane and the home of Lt Gen Mahao, upon his commissioning as Commander LDF.

Mohau Qobete was killed in March 2015 in a shootout while on duty at the Ministry of Education and Training when rogue elements of the Special Forces of the LDF Thabane’s bodyguard convoy.

Police Constable Mokakakale Khetheng was abducted after arrest and murdered by his fellow officers of peace in Hlotse in March 2016, and his body dumped at Ha Mokhalinyane, later and secretly buried as unidentified in Maseru. His body was exhumed with his killers’ help but was dismissed as fake by former Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, and his party the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.

There are also the Mohale Dam murders which saw three men Khothatso Makibinyane,  Paseka Pakela, and Lekhoele Noko abducted and killed by LDF thugs, and thrown into the Mohale Dam in May 2017; and retrieved with international help after change of government in 2018. Their retrieval was similarly dismissed as fake by Metsing and his party.

The APS contends the establishment of a current grand coalition government, that absorbs the most significant parties in the land, imposes on organisations for human rights, rule of law and clean government, and individual advocates and campaigners to redouble their efforts in compelling government to unflinchingly ensure that the prosecution of perpetrators and reparations for the bereaved to pass promptly.

“We, therefore, call upon the Government of Lesotho to discharge its obligations accordingly, and use its mandate and authority through all lawful and constitutional levers at its disposal to close the chapter of impunity and bury the evil axis of the state, security forces and violence in our politics,” said the APS.

The APS says they find unsettling reports that the partners in the new All Basotho Convention-led 4th coalition government and some opposition parties have already been in talks to consider deferment of high profile court cases to a time beyond the tenure of the current parliament.

“This would mean that over the five years since the brutish assassination of Comrade Mahao, and through three consecutive coalition governments including the current one, this matter has been casually traded by power brokers for their own selfish ends.

Ironically, if this were to be allowed to happen, it would be a direct assault on the very values and principles that were touted by those who broke from their erstwhile comrades in forming the successive coalition governments including this current one.

These are the values of clean government and eradication of corruption, human rights and the rule of law, and respect for the sanctity of human life. We continue to be disappointed by lack of transparency of our governments about these matters, including the current one where the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro could only make a subtle reference to this latest attempt at strangulation of justice in his answer to the media on an official visit to South Africa on Friday 12th June 2020,” the association said.

The statement reads, “it is yet another irony that lately the rape of justice is often cited by our political elites in government and opposition alike as paving the way for completion of the reforms, while defeating the ends which are sought by those selfsame reforms.

To this is added the often repeated illusion that the SADC family of nations can be roped in to prescribe to the Kingdom of Lesotho and its government the defeat of the same principles of good governance, human rights and the rule of law which are core to the SADC Treaty; whereas indeed the realization of these values is the cornerstone of Lesotho’s acceptability in SADC and the international community, as has been perennially demonstrated, especially in the ambiance of the dereliction of state duty and excesses of the second coalition government, which begot the Phumaphi Commission.

We don’t have any reason to believe that either SADC or South Africa as SADC Facilitator towards realization of the SADC decisions on Lesotho could be amenable to tricks meant to defeat those ends.”

June 25 this year will mark a full five years to the day when Lt Gen Mahao was murdered.

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