THE wife of slain army commander, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, says the killing of her husband, strained the military-civilian relationship and left the nation “severely fragmented”.
‘Mamphanya Mahao, the wife of the slain army commander, made the remarks at the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) People’s Forum in Pretoria, South Africa.
Lt Gen Mahao was gunned down in June 2015 by his colleagues, with the army saying he was resisting arrest for orchestrating a mutiny plot against the army command.
Twenty-two soldiers were arrested and detained at the maximum prison for their involvement in the plot while 23 others fled the country.
The 22 have since been put on open arrest while government is in talks with the exiled soldiers to see how best they can return and be reunited with their families. The 23 have an option to return to the army or take an early retirement with full benefits.
The SADC Commission of Inquiry that was established at the recommendation of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Lt Gen Mahao –fingered the army in his death.
The commission further said there was no mutiny plot and recommended an amnesty for the detained and exiled soldiers but said those responsible for killing Lt Gen Mahao and other human rights violations must be prosecuted.
Addressing the recent SADC People’s Forum, Ms Mahao said it was frustrating that no one had been prosecuted for her husband’s death.
“A soldier told the court that he was commanding the operation that killed him but to date nothing has been done about that, so much for democracy,” Ms Mahao said.
“This has led to a severely fragmented nation and the military-civil relationship have been tarnished greatly. Every time people in my country see a soldier, they see killers, not their protectors,” Ms Mahao said.
She said there were more killings associated with the army and relatives of the deceased were still waiting for justice.
Ms Mahao said the previous seven parties’ coalition government that was headed by Pakalitha Mosisili had turned a deaf ear to their pleas.
“To date nothing has been done about those who killed the civilians. My husband was denied the right to life. Other soldiers have been denied their freedoms, they were arrested without prosecution for a very long time and subjected to torture while others remain in exile,” Ms Mahao said, adding such incidents negatively affected the children of the deceased.
She also cited the killing of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng as an example of the past regime’s failure to protect basic human rights.
PC Khetheng was stationed in Mokhotlong and last seen being arrested by his colleagues at a traditional feast in Sebothoane, Leribe on 25 March 2016.
This prompted his father, Thabo Khetheng, to lodge an application before the High Court on 18 July 2016 for the police authorities to produce him dead or alive.
PC Khetheng had been arrested and charged on allegations that he torched the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.
He was allegedly last seen with Inspector Mofolo, PC Ntoane, PC ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko and Senior Inspector Matona.
The LMPS had argued that PC Khetheng had left the Hlotse police station without permission and they did not know where he was. For its part, the Khetheng family argued that the police should know where he was because they arrested him.
A body believed to be that of PC Khetheng was exhumed at Lepereng Cemetery in the Maseru district on 11 August after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court in light of the ongoing investigations into his disappearance and suspected murder.
He was buried on Saturday in Mokhotlong and the funeral attracted a massive attendance including Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki, Acting Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, ministers, Tefo Mapesela (Trade and Industry), Thesele Maseribane (Public Service), Joang Molapo (Communications), Keketso Rantšo (Labour), Chalane Phori (Small Business), Mokoto Hloaele (Energy), deputy ministers, Nthabiseng Makoae (Agriculture) and Machesetsa Mofomobe (Home Affairs).
Senior Superintendent Thabo Tšukulu (51), Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona (39), Sub Inspector Haleokoe Taasoane (44) and Inspector Mothibeli Mofolo (49) have since been arrested and charged with murdering PC Khetheng.