When a soldier is buried

When a soldier is buried

Colonel Tefo Ellington Hashatsi was a hard worker, always went the extra mile and would knock off as late as 12am and sometimes would go a week without sleep; and it was with this kind of attitude that he quickly rose through the ranks, from being a captain in 2010 and to the high rank of full Colonel at the time of his death on September 5, 2017.

His former high school mates at Kingsgate remember him as a very brave character that stood up for what he believed in, and would not agree to any matter unless clear facts were presented in opposition or proposition of the matter being discussed.
A former fellow student states that Tefo had a clear vision of where he wanted to go after school, “the fact is that most of the youth do not exactly know where they will go after school due to the economic circumstances we live in, such as scarcity of jobs, poverty and others.”
The late army officer is thus remembered as a man that was very clear about his intended goals, and in his high school years was very committed to his work, and his goal was to end up an army officer.

His diligence in pursuit of the goal was seen in the fact that he would encourage classmates to ‘cross-night’ and would be the companion they looked up to on those late night study excursions to and from school.  One of the speakers at the funeral service delivered a question to the masses of mourners gathered.

The question was related to the issue of crime and punishment, that is, how one’s criminality can only be proven after they are tried in a legal court of law, but it seems in the case of Tefo and Bulane, the court of public opinion took precedence over the legal court of law; Tefo was ‘decolonelled’, was posthumously stripped of his rank, all these done without a fair hearing and trial.

The speaker made reference to God’s judgement of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden: it was delivered after a fair hearing between God and Adam.
It was on the 23rd of September at Wepener Road, Mafeteng that I mentally quoted from the Book of Genesis chapter 3 verse 18:

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

A retired army colonel who was instructor to Tefo in the late officer’s early days referred to the story of Jesus’ garment being divided, the soldiers stood up against the idea that the Messiah’s garment should be rent into four quarters.
Instead they decided that lots should be cast for it, that is, they stood up for what they believed was right for this is the credo the army has stood by until the moment.

That the man being buried on the day had had both his esteem and raiment torn to shreds by the masses of unqualified judges was seen as not right; for he felt that Tefo and his comrade-in-arms deserved a full military funeral.
Psalm 103 was his favourite psalm in life and it is inscribed as the epitaph on his tombstone.

Councils of public opinion judges on social media websites have ostracised this soldier who, according to the eulogies delivered at his funeral, was a man who stood up for those he loved.  A niece states that he loved them unconditionally, but he loved the country more, the absence of officials at the funeral proves otherwise; that the country he loved may not have loved him as much as he did it.

Criminality and proving it before judgement by the appropriate court of law is wrong, and it seems, political influence had a large hand to play in how the day began and ended.  A political figure present questioned as to how long the children of Lesotho will go and die for the interests of unscrupulous politics.

Tefo is described as a staunchly apolitical figure in his life, and his defence was that soldiers should serve every government in power loyally, in short, his belief was that a soldier could not afford to take sides; for a soldier has the responsibility to protect all the citizens of the land ignorant of their political affiliation.

In the last days, he attended a training course in Zimbabwe where he went for three months without the regular stipend, and this forced him to quit the course.  In-laws confirm this story of how he had to get away from the training exercise, after which he got no answers from high command as to why he was not provided with the regular stipend.

There are statements that he had hinted at resigning a few months before the fateful end. It seems, that until right at the end of the day, Col. Tefo Hashatsi could not get satisfactory answers to all the questions he asked.  For a man who is said to have been firm and who could not give in unless satisfactorily convinced, the unanswered questions still remain.

Tefo Hashatsi was born on January 26, 1981 at Marian Hill, the fifth child of Ntate Lefali Charles Hashatsi and ‘Me ‘Mamosa.
He got his primary education at Mafeteng L.E.C and then moved on to Kingsgate High School after which he did a BA Humanities degree at NUL majoring in Philosophy and Development Studies.

He enlisted in the LDF in 2003 and was raised to the rank of Lance Corporal after completing the mandatory recruitment training.
He was then sent to a Cadet Officer Training Course in the Republic of Germany for five years and upon return was raised to the rank of Lieutenant in 2008.

He then attended Special Forces Training course in the Republic of South Africa and a Junior Command course in India.
He was then elevated to the ranks of Captain in 2010, Lieutenant Colonel in 2015, and then full Colonel in 2017.
Honours he received include the Military Long Service Medal (10 years), Meritorious Service Medal, and the SADC Support Operations Medal.

He served in the army for 14 years. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, parents, two sisters, two brothers and other family relatives.
However judgemental the world may be, Psalm 103 that is also his epitaph vindicates him:

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever;

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

As a friend bade him farewell on the 23rd of September 2017 said, “Tsela tšoeu Lekhololokoe.”
Perhaps the silence that followed his internment leaves him at peace. There was no 21 gun salute when this soldier was laid to rest.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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