Spies booted out of meeting

MASERU — Officers from the National Security Service (NSS) were on Tuesday ordered out of the home of All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Tom Thabane, where a party meeting was being held.

The two NSS agents had attended the ABC meeting at Thabane’s home in Ha-Abia.

Thabane was briefing his supporters on the stay-away called by the opposition this week.

The meeting, which was held in Thabane’s yard, was a precursor to a press conference where the ABC leader told reporters that the stay-away had been called off to give dialogue a chance.

The meeting had barely started when ABC supporters demanded that the government spies leave the venue.

The supporters told the NSS officers that their presence was “unnecessary because nobody was threatening national security”.

The NSS men obeyed and left.

When the Lesotho Times crew arrived at Thabane’s home, the NSS men were already leaving.

They did not attend the press conference.

Thabane, who is known for protecting NSS officers when members of his party clash with them, did not intervene on their behalf this time.

Thabane said he did not bring his followers to order because he realised that they were angry at the government.

“The government’s act of intensifying security when we launched a peaceful stay-away has angered many ABC followers,” Thabane said.

“The people felt like they were being treated like enemies of their own people and country and their emotions rose.

“I felt it was proper not to intervene but to let them expel the NSS boys from my home. After all, I had held a press briefing at my private home and there was no need for the NSS to spy on me because I am not a security threat. We were not going to do anything illegal.”

Thabane said he did not think the expelled officers took offence at being ordered out.

“They know I always come to their rescue when I realise that things are likely to get out of control,” he said

Thabane said he did not fear that there were possibilities that the ABC members might be prosecuted for 

obstructing the duty of the NSS.

The National Security Service Act states that anybody persuading an NSS officer to omit to carry out his duty or doing any act in conflict with his duty is liable to a maximum fine of M20 000 or 10 years imprisonment.

The main function of the NSS is to protect the state from actions of persons intended to overthrow or undermine democracy by political, industrial or violent means.

Prior to the stay-away, the police arrested two men suspected to be ABC members who were driving Thabane’s car and allegedly threatening to harm people who would defy the stay-away.

The police also raided homes of some prominent ABC members including famo musician, Lebajoa Lephats’oe.

The NSS director general, Thuso Thaha, said he believed Thabane did not intend to expel the officers from his home.

He said Thabane had a good record of protecting the NSS officers whenever they became the subject of attack by ABC members.

“I believe he had good reasons for allowing their expulsion,” Thaha said.

“We had been invited to attend like anybody working in the press. However, our expulsion from there does not make Thabane a bad person. We took no offence.”

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