‘Motsomotso’s killing not a ‘planned act’’

‘Motsomotso’s killing not a ‘planned act’’

MASERU – AN army captain who has been in military detention for a month in connection with the murder of Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo says the commander’s death was not a “planned act”.
Captain Boiketsiso Fonane makes the allegation in his replying affidavit in a case in which he wants the High Court to order the army to immediately release him.

In his application Captain Fonane had alleged that the army has been holding him without a charge. He said the police, into whose custody he was briefly released before the army locked him up again, had not charged him with any crime. He has been in military custody since September 17.

Acting Commander Major General Lineo Poopa has responded to the application by insisting that Captain Fonane has been charged for mutiny.
Major General Poopa says apart from mutiny Captain Fonane is also charged with inciting other soldiers to join mutiny and failing to promptly report munity.

To his answering affidavit Major General Poopa has attached a charge sheet showing that the captain was charged on September 18, a day after his arrest.  The charge sheet alleges that Captain Fonane, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi plotted the mutiny and the killing of Lt Gen Motšomotšo at a meeting around 7pm on September 4.

It says the meeting happened at Colonel Hashatsi’s house at Makoanyane Barracks.
Captain Fonane is also alleged to have incited Corporal Sebolai, Private Ratsiu and Private Matsoso – who are all members of the Special Forces – to defy the Deputy Commander’s orders to report to the police.

But Captain Fonane insists all the charges are “false and unfounded”. The charge sheet, Captain Fonane says, is “only full of defamation”.
He says he is the one who ensured that Corporal Sebolai, Private Ratsiu and Private Matsoso reported to the police as ordered by Lt Gen Motšomotšo.
“The current commander (Major General Poopa) has been given false information about me that is why he has deposed to this kind of affidavit,” Captain Fonane says.

He says the LDF (Lesotho Defence Force) knows that the death of Lt Gen Motšomotšo did not come as a result of a planned act”.
The army is also aware that there were no soldiers who planned to kill the commander, he adds.
“That is why there is no single soldier arrested in relation to the issues surrounding the death of Lt Gen Motšomotšo apart from me”.
The army, he further alleges, also knows that he did not take part in any mutiny and no “soldiers planned and took part in any mutiny”.

Captain Fonane also insists that by the time his case is heard in the High Court “there will still be no soldiers arrested (in connection with the commander’s killing)” unless “further trumped up charges will be preferred to other soldiers who are unlucky like me”.
He explains that when Lt Gen Motšomotšo was killed on September 5 he was dealing with a case in which a civilian had requested the army’s intervention in a dispute with a low ranking soldier.

He says if at all he was involved in a mutiny he would have joined his alleged fellow co-conspirators instead of dealing with the civilian’s issue.
Eleven days after his arrest a senior officer requested permission from the acting commander to keep Captain Fonane in custody, saying they were still investigating the alleged mutiny.

The officer said it was highly possible that more soldiers would be implicated and charged with mutiny.
“I anticipate a high possibility of joint trial,” the officer said.

Captain Fonane however says it is not true that there are further investigations. “The LDF is simply continuing with my detention to simply avoid embarrassment and a possible claim for damages from me,” he says. “I have not been charged before a court martial. LDF is afraid to charge me before court martial.” “There is no justification for my detention at all. My continued detention serves no purpose.”
The case will be heard on October 26.

The army and the government have alleged that Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi went to Lt Gen Motšomotšo to confront him about his plan to hand them over to the police for interrogation. They say during the confrontation that ensued Brigadier Sechele shot the commander.
Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi, so goes the official version, were shot by the commander’s bodyguards.

Both the army and the government have already said the two were part of a bigger plot to kill the commander and take charge of the army and then topple the government. But other observers have said the whole explanation raises more questions than answers.

Staff Reporter

 

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