Police investigate Mahao killers

Police investigate Mahao killers

Staff Reporter

MASERU

POLICE have resumed investigating soldiers allegedly involved in the killing of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao last June, says Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Mosisili told parliament on Monday that government “wholly supports” the SADC Commission’s recommendation of a criminal investigation into the death of Mahao, who was gunned down by unidentified soldiers.

The army has refused to release the names of soldiers involved in the operation, citing operational procedures. Also, officers who appeared before the commission refused to give names of those involved or admit that they were there during the killing.

Investigations into Mahao’s killing had stalled amid allegations that the army was refusing to comply with the police on the release of crucial evidence.

That evidence includes Mahao’s vehicles, clothes, gun and phone. It could also include the guns used to kill him.

Mosisili however told parliament that government is complying with the recommendation to facilitate the investigations, not because the commission said so “but more importantly because it is the right thing to do in pursuance of the rule of law”.

He said the government has already submitted the commission’s report “together with the report of the pathologist, to the police”.

“The police have resumed their investigations. It is expected that the procedure described above will be followed to its logical conclusion. The importance of prompt and decisive action on this matter has been duly communicated to both the police authorities and the DPP,” Mosisili said.

By “procedure” he meant the process the police investigating an alleged crime and giving its findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether there is enough evidence to take the matter to court.

This comes as the government is preparing to present a report on the progress made in implementing the commission’s recommendation to the SADC Double Troika Summit in Gaborone next week.

That report will pretty much be along the same lines as the statement Mosisili presented to parliament.

It remains to be seen whether his revelation that the police are already investigating Mahao’s death will appease SADC which has been clamouring for justice together with local civic organisations and the international community.

The commission dismissed almost the entire explanation by the army on the events surrounding the death of Mahao.

The army claims that Mahao was shot whilst resisting arrest and had pulled out his gun, ready to fire at the soldiers who had come to arrest him.

Colonel Bulane Sechele

Colonel Bulane Sechele

 

 

Colonel Bulane Sechele, who confirmed he was the commander of the operation, told the commission that Mahao drew his gun, cocked it and pointed at the two soldiers who were in front of his car.

The commission however said apart from Sechele’s testimony there is no other evidence to support the allegation that Mahao had pulled his gun.

Sechele also said after being shot Mahao fell with the gun still in hand. The commission however said this evidence is disputed by the testimony of the pathologist who indicated that the right hand was completely broken and “that it would have been improbable to hold such an object”.

“The evidence is also disputed by some eye witnesses who indicated that the Brigadier had his hands on the steering wheel during the short episode”.

The commission said the “sequence of shots as described by the ballistics expert and the nature of injuries as described by the pathologist are consistent”.

“The suggestion that the Brigadier resisted arrest is improbable looking at the scientific evidence. The suggestion that he had aimed a gun is not supported by any evidence including that of eye witnesses,” the commission said.

It further said the evidence from the ballistics expert and the pathologist did not support Sechele’s allegation that Mahao had his arms raised in an aiming position when he was first shot.

The commission also pointed out that the fact that a “heavily armed team went after him could be a manifestation of an intention to kill him”.

Brigadier 3 MahaoIt also appointed to the fact that Mahao was shot at point-blank to support that the intention was to kill him.

“If one was to accept that indeed the deceased was wielding a pistol in a threatening manner, one would come to same conclusion that excessive force was used particularly after the first shot which immobilised his right arm”.

“The degree of force used towards the deceased was not commensurate to the danger he posed with a pistol.”

The commission also dismissed the army’s assertion that Mahao was still alive when he arrived at Makoanyane Military Hospital. It said the pathologist had concluded that it is improbable that Mahao was walking when he got to the hospital “looking at the nature of the wounds “he had sustained”.

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