How Hashatsi, Motšomotšo fell out

How Hashatsi, Motšomotšo fell out

MASERU – LIEUTENANT General Khoantle Motšomotšo and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi had a nasty fallout a few months leading to their tragic deaths on September 5. This is according to Colonel Hashatsi’s brother, Mokone Hashatsi, who paints a picture of a soldier who had been frustrated to the point of resigning before the incident that led to his death, that of his commander and colleague, Brigadier Bulane Sechele.
Both Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele were buried without military honours last Saturday.

The government has portrayed them as rogue soldiers who killed their commander in a botched attempt to take over the army.
The army has since arrested several soldiers who are accused of being part of the plot and is pursuing others, with more arrests expected in the next few weeks.

Mokone tells thepost that relations began to fray sometime this year over unpaid per diems. Mokone says this was after the army had allegedly stopped paying Colonel Hashatsi’s stipend when he was on a special course in Zimbabwe.
“As you might have heard or seen, in Zimbabwe people make long queues at ATMs. He (Colonel Hashatsi) would go to the ATM and queue there since morning and he would find that there was no money in his account,” Mokone says.

“When he called his boss (Lt Gen Motšomotšo) at home he would just say they were processing payments until he no longer took his calls. The last call he made was answered by a bodyguard who said the General was in a meeting and he told him to ask the general to call him, which he never did.”
Mokone says as the most senior officer in the course his brother “felt it would be embarrassing seek financial help from juniors” and thought it would embarrass his country if he begs.

Colonel Hashatsi made plans to secretly leave the training and come to Lesotho because he had already written the main tests.
“He asked his brother who was working in South Africa to buy him a single bus ticket from Zimbabwe to South Africa where he would seek further help to get to Lesotho.”

“Since their passports as the military trainees were kept at a certain office and would be released to them when they go back to their countries, Colonel Hashatsi got his passport by lying that he was going to use it as identification to receive some money from home”.
Mokone says when he arrived back home his brother asked Lt Gen Motšomotšo why his stipend had been stopped.

He revealed that Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s reaction was to insist that Colonel Hashatsi should go back to Zimbabwe to complete the course but he refused.
He says Lt Gen Motšomotšo then accused Colonel Hashatsi of insubordination and allegedly punished him with a demotion from the special forces’ command to the human resources office.

“A few days before his death my brother had applied to resign from the army after realising that he was no longer wanted”.
Mokone says on the day that his brother was killed he had been called to Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s office.
He says as he looks back to the events of September 5 he feels that Colonel Hashatsi had a sense that he was going to die.
On the fateful morning, Mokone alleges, Colonel Hashatsi had told his nephews “to pursue education so that you can raise my daughters in case I die”.
Hashatsi also allegedly texted one of his friends before he went to Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s office saying “I don’t believe I will come back but if I do, we will talk”.

Mokone says what that message meant only became clear “when we learned that he had been killed outside the commander’s office”.
Mokone tells how on the evening of September 4 Colonel Hashatsi had arrived at his home at around midnight saying he was from a meeting.
His brother, Mokone explains, said he was preparing to go to a case of a woman who was killed by soldiers in 2015 by soldiers near former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s house.

Colonel Hashatsi, who was the direct commander of the bodyguards as the special force boss, allegedly said “I will see if I will come back”.
Details of what exactly happened inside Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s office remain vague but government claims there was confrontation over the commander’s plan to hand over the two soldiers to the police investigating the murder of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015.

The army alleges that Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele entered the office after convincing the general’s receptionist that they had been invited. It says Sechele was carrying a hidden gun. Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele were shot by Motšomotšo’s bodyguards once outside the office.
Mokone however says the pathologist’s report had revealed that Colonel Hashatsi was “not fighting or running when he was shot”.

He says the report the army gave the family soon after the incident was that Colonel Hashatsi “was left there lying on the ground after he was shot”.
Mokone adds that the army’s explanation was that they were waiting for its paramedics “and they could not just handle him lest they worsened his condition”.

“However, when we went there later the HR officer told us that he had forgotten to tell us that one of the reasons they could not attend him immediately was that he had a hand grenade and they were afraid that it would explode.” Mokone says Hashatsi was later taken by the police to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital where “the family was denied access to him until later when he was declared dead”.

“My wife who is a soldier went there as a member of the family and she was denied access to him. She could not see him and later she was brought news that he had died,” Mokone says.

Staff Reporter

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