Former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao knew about a plot to assassinate him and had since prepared his family for that painful moment which came at the hands of the army on Thursday last week.
This revelation was made by the slain soldier’s family during a media briefing in Maseru on Tuesday this week.
A day before his fatal shooting by LDF members who had come to arrest him for allegedly being part of a plot to overthrow the army command, Brigadier Mahao and his wife ’Mamphanya, received cellphone messages from “sources” informing them that night was the last they would spend together, the family said.
Their phones were “cut off” afterwards and this, according to the family, suggested indeed the moment had come for Brig Mahao to be assassinated.
“The couple was informed through their phones that they were spending their last night together that day. Very ironically, their phones were subsequently cut-off from communication the same night around 9pm. They were convinced now that day had come,” Professor Nqosa Mahao, who was speaking on behalf of the family, said.
According to Professor Mahao, his brother had frequently received information from his LDF colleagues about the plot to kill him. The family advised him to flee the country when he told them about this, but the 47-year-old soldier refused to leave, insisting “if I should be killed, it better be on my home country’s soil”, Professor Mahao said.
He continued: “People from as far as the United Kingdom and Rwanda had always insisted that General Mahao should join them there so that he could be safe from the assassination which he knew was coming.
“This is very interesting because if people that far could sense that General Mahao was in danger, what more of the national intelligence agencies which should have protected him?
“There was also a link on the internet which listed several names of people to be assassinated. The national intelligence agencies should have made a follow-up on such information. It is a constitutional entitlement, not only to a person at the level of General Mahao, but also even an ordinary citizen, that they be protected by the State.
“Members of the family residing outside the country have also always wanted to take him with them to protect him. Our family extends to Botswana and South Africa. We tried to advise Ntate Maaparankoe to leave, and he told us repeatedly that we should accept the fact that he was not going to run away from the Kingdom of Lesotho because he had done nothing wrong.
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“He so much believed in the rule of law that if he had done something wrong, he should be dealt with procedurally by the law. He once remarked about the soldiers who were being abducted, tortured and forced by some army elements to admit that there was a mutiny plot they had planned with him.
“He said because those soldiers were being tortured in his name, he would therefore, not run away. And eventually he found out that yes, there were plans to assassinate him. Last week, there was a funeral for one of our relatives in Ha-Makhoathi. This was shortly after he briefed me about the plan to have him assassinated. And I asked him to keep a low profile and not come to the funeral where he would be exposed to his attackers, but he refused and came alone in his truck.”
Professor Mahao said he was directly told by his late brother that the reason he travelled alone was because he knew he was going to be attacked anytime and that when that happened, he did not want other people to be injured and die because of him.
“He said he would rather die alone. By the surprise of God, and against his will, Maaparankoe was fatally shot in the company of his two nephews and because of that, we were able, as a family, to know how the events unfolded, hence the evidence that we are able to provide to you today.
“It was solely God’s decision that Maaparankoe’s last moments had to be witnessed, otherwise the only version you would have now is that which is fabricated. The long and shot of this is that Maaparankoe knew his death was imminent. He therefore, prepared his wife and the rest of the family for this moment. We expected it anytime,” Professor Mahao said, weeping.
- Born at Paray Hospital in 1968—the sixth child of Mphanya and ‘Manqosa.
- Attended Mokema Primary School from 1976 to 1982 and wrote his COSC exams at St Joseph High School in 1987.
- Graduated from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with a law degree in 1994.
- Obtained a Master’s Degree in Managing Peace and Security in Africa at the Institute of Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012.
- Attended several military courses in Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.
- Started his work experience as a volunteer for Community, Legal, Resource and Advice Centre in Maseru. He practised with S Mphutlane & Co. Law Firm after graduation in 1994.
- Joined the LDF in 1996.
- Appointed LDF Special Forces boss in 2002 and held the position until 2007. He held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the time.
- He was subsequently appointed Brigadier and then Lt Gen and LDF Commander on 29 August 2014.
- Survives assassination attempt on 30 August 2014 when unknown gunmen attacked his home. He hid in the outside toilet until the gunmen had gone.
- On 21 May 2015, he was removed as head of the LDF and demoted from Lt Gen to Brigadier after government argued his appointment and promotion had been illegally made by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
- Married to ‘Malechesa Matela (now ‘Mamphanya Mahao) on 28 February 1998. The couple was blessed with three sons: Mphanya now 16 years of age, Lehloenya (12) and Setlokoane (Six).