Mahao court martial postponed
THE court martial trying suspended Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Brigadier, Maaparankoe Mahao, has been postponed by one week as one member of the tribunal was out of the country.
The trial, which is nearing completion, was scheduled to proceed on Monday this week, with submissions by prosecution and defence lawyers.
Major Bulane Sechele is prosecuting the case, while Advocate Patrick Tšenoli is representing Brigadier Mahao, who was suspended on 15 January this year for allegedly “behaving in an unbecoming character of an officer”.
However, the case was postponed to Monday next week after it emerged Colonel Sechaba Kaibe, who is a member of the panel of LDF officers presiding over the trial, could not attend the proceedings as he was out of the country on duty.
Major General Lineo Poopa is presiding over the case, assisted by Brigadier Poqa Motoa, Colonel Kaibe, Lieutenant Colonel Mohale and Lieutenant Colonel Lebabo.
Waiting members of the court are Brigadier Letsoela and Major Kebane, while Lieutenant Colonel Matobo is the Judge Advocate.
Brigadier Mahao is charged with “behaving in an unbecoming character of an officer, contrary to Section 75 of the Lesotho Defence Force Act 4, 1996”, after having a confrontation with Commando Captain Tefo Hashatsi on 13 January 2014, over the change of the LDF command.
He is also alleged to have acted in a manner prejudicial to discipline when he threatened Captain Hashatsi. In his testimony, Captain Hashatsi told the court said he was strongly opposed to discussions, in the media, of issues concerning the LDF. He was referring to a 12 January 2014 facebook-post by Mo-Afrika FM owner, Ratabane Ramainoane, in which it was alleged LDF Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli would soon be served with a letter of dismissal.
Captain Hashatsi told the court that the next day, 13 January, he convened a meeting of 38 Special Force Company colleagues to discuss the facebook-post, which then led to his confrontation with Brigadier Mahao.
Brigadier Mahao was then suspended on 15 January by Major General Khoantle Motsomotso for the exchanges with Captain Hashatsi.
In his defence, Brigadier Mahao said he had the responsibility, as a senior army officer, to reprimand his subordinates whenever he thought this action was necessary.
But reads the charge Brigadier Mahao is facing: “The accused did not follow the chain of command in addressing his concerns to the Captain, neither was he granted permission by his superiors to utter such views which sought to influence or victimise the Captain.”