Mahaos take on Mosisili, Metsing


. . . family also wants compensation from Kamoli, Mokhosi

Pascalinah Kabi

THE family of slain former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao wants former premier Pakalitha Mosisili and others to compensate them for his 25 June 2015 assassination by his erstwhile army colleagues.

The family also wants Dr Mosisili and the three others, namely his former deputy Mothetjoa Metsing, former Defence minister Tšeliso Mokhosi and retired LDF chief, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli, to pay for the damage to Lt-Gen Mahao’s property during a 30 August 2014 army attack at his Koalabata home.

Eight soldiers charged with murdering Lt-Gen Mahao will also be co-joined in the lawsuit against the quartet, according to family spokesperson Lehloenya Mahao.

Unknown gunmen, believed to be LDF members, attacked Lt-Gen Mahao’s Koalabata home on 30 August 2014, soon after his appointment as army commander by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Lt-Gen Mahao was appointed soon after Dr Thabane had fired Lt-Gen Kamoli for insubordination with the latter resolutely refusing to vacate the post, arguing that the firing was unlawful.

He retaliated by attempting a coup in which soldiers were deployed early in the morning to raid and seize arms from the police stations around Maseru. Lt-Gen Kamoli justified the attempted putsch by accusing the police of planning to arm civilians for use during a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) street protest that was scheduled for 1 September 2014.

At the time of the raid, Lt-Gen Mahao’s home was attacked by unknown assailants with the bullets damaging his house and three vehicles. One of Lt-Gen Mahao’s dogs was shot dead during the melee, but his wife and three children then aged 15, 11 and five years survived unharmed.

Dr Thabane relinquished power in the wake of the 28 February 2015 snap elections, ushering in a seven-party coalition government led by Dr Mosisili which indicated that Lt Gen Kamoli’s dismissal and Lt Gen Mahao’s promotion, were illegal.

The seven-party coalition government sought to nullify Lt-Gen Mahao’s tenure by backdating Lt-Gen Kamoli’s appointment to 29 August 2014 when he was dismissed by Dr Thabane.

Lt-Gen Mahao was on 25 June 2015 assassinated by his former LDF colleagues who claimed he had resisted arrest for allegedly being the ringleader of a mutiny.

However, Lt-Gen Mahao’s nephews — who were with him during the incident – disputed the army’s version of the vent and instead accused the soldiers of killing him in cold blood.

A SADC commission of inquiry set up soon after the killing also quashed the LDF’s mutiny plot claim, citing lack of evidence.

Family spokesperson, Lehloenya Mahao, told this publication their insistence that there was no mutiny plot had finally been vindicated with the acquittal last week of 22 army officers who were accused of working in cahoots with Lt-Gen Mahao to unseat the army command.

The 22 soldiers are Brigadier Poqa Motoa, Colonel Stemere, Colonel Kolisang, Major Makhetha, Captain Chaka, Sergeant Mokhobo, Sergeant Semakale, Sergeant Lekhabunyane, Corporal Mokhoro, Corporal Letsilane, Corporal Lipoto, Corporal Manaka, Corporal Chele, Lance Corporal Molefi, Lance-Corporal Makhooane, Private Pama, Private Bolofo and Private Ralitlemo.

Mr Mahao said the mutiny charges were just a ploy to neutralise his brother which was hatched years back.

“The plan to kill Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao started way back in 2012 and the 2015 mutiny charges were just an excuse to get to Maaparankoe and kill him under the guise of arrestinghim,” Mr Mahao said.

“His killing was not a coincidence but a plan of the army and the government of the time. We strongly believe that Mosisili, Metsing, Mokhosi and Kamoli hatched a plan together to eliminate Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao to pave the way for Kamoli’s comeback.”

He said the quartet were fully aware that Lt-Gen Mahao was “superior to Kamoli in terms of qualifications, skills, knowledge and training”.

“It was going to be difficult for Kamoli to be reinstated if my brother was still alive and serving in the army.”

He said the case would be filed in court once all the suspects were charged to ensure that no one implicated in the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao was left behind.

DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo’s mobile phone rang unanswered when contacted for comment yesterday.

For his part, LCD spokesperson Teboho Sekata said: “They must go and sue in the courts of law. The courts are where people go and seek justice. No one is stopping them from suing.”

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