SADC probe team arrives



Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi
Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi

Bongiwe Zihlangu

Botswana Judge Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi arrives in Maseru today to lead a 12-member team appointed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to investigate circumstances surrounding the assassination of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015, among a host of other suspected criminal acts.

Other members of the team— Brigadier General Charles Tarumbwa (Zimbabwe), Colonel Dave Mtachi (Malawi), Brigadier General Noel Ndhlovu (South Africa), Brigadier Helena Ras (South Africa), Deputy Commissioner of Police Silvanus Lineekela Nghishidimbawa (Namibia); Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Douglas Jabulani Nyakutsikwa (Zimbabwe), Mr A Wale (country and first name not established) , Justice George Mogotsi (SA), Herman Elbrink (SA), Phumlani Dlamini (country not established) and  Christopher Shongwe (SA)—arrived on Monday this week for the much anticipated probe which is expected to take 60 days.

A special SADC Double Troika Summit held in Pretoria on 3 July after the fatal shooting of Brigadier Mahao by LDF members decided to set-up the Commission to get to the bottom of what really transpired on the fateful day.

The Prime Minister’s Press Attaché, Motumi Ralejoe, yesterday confirmed the arrival of the group, adding investigations would begin as soon as the Commission of Inquiry has been gazetted in line with the country’s laws.

Mr Ralejoe further said Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili would formally introduce the Commission once it has been regularised “as required by the Public Inquiries Act”.

According to official government documents seen by the Lesotho Times, the Commission’s terms of reference include probing Brigadier Mahao’s death, as well a review of investigations into the alleged kidnapping of former soldiers and the alleged murders of members of the opposition by the LDF.

Additionally, the body would investigate the legality and manner of the removal of Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as LDF Commander in August 2014 and his reappointment in May this year.

The probe team would also look into allegations made by opposition parties and civic society that Lt Gen Kamoli’s reinstatement had resulted in divisions in the military as well as political and security instability in Lesotho.

The Commission would also probe former premier Thomas Thabane’s decision to increase police salaries allegedly without cabinet approval and to the exclusion of the other two disciplined forces namely the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and LDF; his constant change of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service leadership and indefinite suspension of LCS Commissioner Napo Sefali; the reason  behind the LCS go-slow which has been on-going since December last year; the simultaneous bombings of three Maseru homes by unknown assailants in January 2014; the LDF operation of 30 August 2014 which resulted in the death of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko as the army took over three Maseru police stations, as well as claims by Dr Thabane that the police attacks were part of a coup attempt.



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