THE police have completed investigations into some of the high profile criminal cases, including the assassinations of former army commanders, Lieutenant Generals Khoantle Motšomotšo and Maaparankoe Mahao.
However, as reported last week by the Lesotho Times, some of the cases including the attempted coup of 2014 against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and the murder of the Former First Lady, Lipolelo Thabane and the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla on 14 June 2017 are yet to be completed.
The latest developments come against the background of collaboration between the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and the police component of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) standby force which was deployed to Lesotho on 2 December 2017.
The standby force also known as the SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) Force is made of 217 soldiers, 15 intelligence personnel, 24 police officers and 13 civilian experts.
The police component of SAPMIL has conducted re-training programmes including in ballistics and forensic investigations to help the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) become a more efficient and professional force.
In its recent progress update to SADC, the government revealed that the investigations into the assassination of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo were complete and a suspect, Major Pitso Ramoepane was arrested and is currently in custody.
“The investigations into the assassination of the Lt- Gen Motšomotšo have been completed and one suspect, Major Ramoepana has been remanded in custody,” the government said in its report.
“The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) submitted to the police the firearms used in this case and they were submitted to forensic section for ballistic testing. The ballistic report of 12 April 2018 showed that all the firearms submitted tested positive. The other two suspects, namely Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi died during the shooting which culminated in the death of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo. A Court Martial to hear the matter has been convened and is scheduled to sit on 9 May 2018 (yesterday).”
The government also said it had completed investigations into the June 2015 assassination of Lt-Gen Mahao, adding that eight soldiers have since been charged with his murder.
The eight are Captain Haleeo Makara, Captain Litekanyo Nyakane, Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi, Sergeant Motsamai Fako, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi. They will appear in the High Court tomorrow.
“What is pending (in the Mahao investigation) is the ballistic report as the firearms used in this case were submitted by the LDF and sent to ballistics section for testing on 19 March 2018,” the government said.
Investigations into the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesaiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana are almost complete.
Seven suspects including the former army commander, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli have been formally charged and they remain in custody at the Maseru Central Correctional Institute.
However, a ballistics report on the firearms used in this case is still pending after the firearms were submitted for ballistic tests on 19 March 2018.
The government indicated that progress on some of the investigations has been stalled by the fact that some of the firearms used in the commission of the alleged crimes were not handed over to the police by the LDF. This is because the LDF could not identify them as they were not registered at the army’s the Special Force Armoury.
One such case is that of the 2012 Mafeteng case in which four soldiers allegedly murdered five civilians in Ha Motanyane in Mafeteng.
The four suspects are Captain Nyakane, Lance Corporal Makoae, Private Sebilo, Private Tshephe, and Private Tlakeli.
Commenting on the case, the government said, “This incident occurred in April 2012 and it could not be investigated timeously as LDF authorities were not cooperative”.
“The firearms that were used in this case have not yet been handed over to the police for ballistic testing. However a request has been made to the LDF Command to hand over such firearms but a response given to the police was that the LDF could not identify the firearms used in that killing since such firearms were not registered from the Special Force Armoury.”
Besides these cases, the government said that investigations into the attempted coup of 2014 against the first government of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane are almost complete and arrests will soon be made.
The government also reported progress in its investigations into the fatal shooting of the Former First Lady, Lipolelo Thabane and the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla on 14 June 2017.
Ms Thabane was shot dead by an unknown assailant as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before Dr Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.
A female companion of Ms Thabane also sustained serious injuries in the shooting.
According to the government report, a special team was set up on 16 June 2017 to investigate murder and the attempted murder.
“The team (of investigators) has conducted interviews with individuals, friends, relatives and possible witnesses. A post-mortem was also carried out and a ‘lead’ was discovered from the deceased body and was also submitted to the ballistics. Another ‘lead’ was discovered from the lady (Ms Sibolla) while she was hospitalised and was also submitted to the ballistics. Investigations are on-going,” the government said in its report.