Army hunts soldiers

Army hunts soldiers

MASERU – THE army says it is hunting down soldiers involved in the plot that killed Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo last Tuesday.
That bold declaration by Brigadier General Ramanka Mokaloba seems to indicate that the army believes that Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, both killed in the shootout, were part of a much bigger group in a plot to destabilise the army and the government.

The statement seems to be at variance with earlier statements by the government that Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were desperate soldiers who went on a suicidal mission after realising that the net was closing in on them over their alleged crimes.

The government has said the two were about to be handed over to the police in connection with their alleged role in the killing of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015 as well as several other crimes.

At Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s memorial on Monday, Brigadier General Mokaloba painted a picture of an elaborate mutiny plot that only collapsed because some alleged conspirators failed to respond as planned.
“What was their overall plan? Who were they going to meet? Those who were part of this plan know themselves. Some of them arrived late (presumably at the Ratjomose Barracks),” Brigadier General Mokaloba said.

His emotional eulogy serves to shed new light on what could have happened on the day the commander was killed. Yet is also raises new questions that are screaming for answers.
“They should surrender. It is imperative for them to surrender. It is unfortunate for them if they thought God was on their side. God does not support traitors. He is God who saves and protects the loyal ones. Their act is demonic,” he said.

“There are some who do not want me to talk about these things because they know what they did.”
The general said the person who masterminded the attack on the commander is now on the run.
“There is someone who is the mastermind and is running away somewhere, running away from his acts. He will finally come and appear before the courts. Just like Jonah who ran away and was swallowed by a fish, something like that, he will come and account for his acts. How many people must he kill?”

Brigadier General Mokaloba said Lt Gen Motšomotšo was killed because he could not back down on his plan to implement the SADC commission recommendations.
“These ones who killed him (Lt Gen Motšomotšo) were exerting pressure on him to undo the decision. They took him for granted.”
“We are aware at what stage the general left the army. He was stabilising the security. He was at the operational stage, a strategic level.”
The General said some of those who were part of the plot were now feeding Brigadier Sechele’s and Colonel Hashatsi’s parents with lies.
“Parents are being fed lies. A parent of one of them is talking – they creepily go to her and tell her lies, some of these soldiers. They will not succeed. This country will be governable,” he said.

Colonel Hashatsi’s mother, Matsepo Hashatsi, has questioned the government’s version of what happened to her son.
She told a local radio station and later thepost that she does not believe that her son went into the general’s office to fight.
This, she said, was because the government has said Colonel Hashatsi was not armed when he entered the office.

Brigadier General Mokaloba said the conspirators should know that their time is up and should surrender.
“They are treacherous. Unfortunately the commander had to sacrifice his life. They have to know that the army is a system not an individual. Time is up for them – you should surrender quickly.”

“You human rights activists you should bear with us when we chase these armed rebels. We will apply self-defence. The SADC standby forces will just come because they have been invited. Otherwise we have means to deal with this by ourselves.”
Defence Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Colonel Tanki Mothae, also said those “who are hiding in holes” somewhere should be nabbed.

Acting commander Major General Lineo Poopa said there were already some threats when Lt Gen Motšomotšo came from the August 14 meeting of SADC Defence and Security chiefs in Pretoria.
Major General Poopa said Lt Gen Motšomotšo had said the implementation of SADC decisions was not meant to harm anybody because the law would be followed.

He said despite that assurance “there were some who made soldiers afraid by insinuating that there was malicious intent”.
He said there were covert meetings in which these unfounded allegations were made.
Lt Gen Motšomotšo, Major General Poopa said, was merely enforcing the law.

“We are sorry because we failed to protect our commander.”
“We failed the nation, we failed the whole continent, we failed Basotho and we are very sorry,” Major General Poopa said.
Former army commander Lieutenant General Thuso Motanyane said each commander in Lesotho, starting with Major General Metsing Lekhanya, experienced some kind of rebellion. “All of us had our way of dealing with them,” Motanyane said.

Staff Reporter

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