LDF receives fallen soldier’s remains
MASERU – The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has welcomed home the flag-draped case bearing the remains of the second soldier killed in the SADC-sponsored military mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). The casket bearing Commando Corporal Lebohang Solomon Mofoka’s remains emerged from an LDF military airplane to full military honours on Wednesday afternoon at the army’s Mejametala Airwing in Maseru.
Mofoka died on the evening of Friday July 22 in the Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province where the LDF is deployed. Present to welcome the soldier’s remains was Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the Commander LDF Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela. Mofoka is the second LDF serviceman to die in Mozambique since deployment in August 2021. Commando Private Moalosi Joseph Khoaele succumbed to malaria on November 27, 2021.
In a statement announcing Mofoka’s demise the head of SAMIM revealed that seven members of the LDF were injured in a car accident in which Mofoka died while on duty in Chibau village of the Nangade district. The statement said the other LDF members with whom Mofoka was are currently receiving medical attention and are in stable condition in Pemba.
The statement further noted that in a separate incident, another member of the LDF is currently receiving medical attention at the Pemba Level II Hospital after his rifle accidentally discharged when he was returning from a patrol. He shot himself in the foot, as a result. In an interview with Public Eye, the LDF Public Affairs Officer Captain Sakeng Lekola confirmed that Mofoka died in a car accident that occurred when they were patrolling to protect civilians who were cultivation their farms.
“Since it is harvest time, the soldiers were on duty escorting the residents and protecting them from insurgents who would likely steal from them as they are running out of food,” Lekola explained. Lekola further noted that the car accident occurred when the driver was trying to avoid a motor cyclist. He said only Mofoka died in the accident while others sustained injuries.
Lekola would not be drawn into discussing expected benefits for these LDF soldiers who died while on duty outside the country. He referred this publication to the Ministry of Defence, whose minister, Halebonoe Setšabi, said there will be benefits for the families of the deceased soldier though he could go into details because “this is confidential information.” Setšabi further revealed that soldiers of the contingent still deployed in Mozambique would receive trauma counselling.
He further said that immediately upon completion of the postmortem, Mofoka’s corpse will be released to his family and send home for burial. Both the head of SAMIM and the government of Lesotho have passed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. SADC countries are active contributors in United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) peace support operations with contributions ranging from military observers, civilian police and the peace keeping ‘blue helmets’.
A significant number of civilians are also serving in both the UN and AU operations – individually recruited. According to international reports, attacks in Cabo Delgado province have been staged since October 2017. This coastal province is said to be rich in natural gas reserves. Thousands of residents in Cabo Delgado fled their homes for safety while many other residents have died since this conflict resurfaced early 2021.