Mahaos attack ‘truth and reconciliation’ bid

Mahaos attack ‘truth and reconciliation’ bid

MASERU – THE family of Maaparankoe Mahao has warned that setting up a “truth and reconciliation process” could scupper attempts to bring to justice those guilty of perpetrating human rights violations.
In a letter addressed to South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the SADC Chairperson, the Mahao family said they are deeply concerned about moves to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Lesotho.

The letter, which was signed by Lehloenya Mahao and Ntjolo Leuta, on behalf of all victims of rights abuses, was also copied to President Joao Lourenco of Angola who is the chairperson of the SADC Double Troika, SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Tax and Moussa Faki, the African Union Commission chairperson, among others.

The letter says they have heard it on good authority that representatives of political parties in Lesotho have been meeting in secret talks where the idea of a reconciliation commission has been discussed.
They say leaked information emanating from these meetings indicates that the government and opposition may be on the brink of reaching an understanding on a Truth and Reconciliation process.

The Mahaos also understand that the proposed reconciliation commission will stop the prosecution of suspects accused of serious human rights violations during Mosisili’s reign.

The commission could also get the murderers of their brother, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, off the hook.
Lt Gen Mahao was killed by soldiers in what the Lesotho army said was a mission to arrest him for mutiny.
His family insists he was assassinated.

“We are deeply concerned that this so-called Truth and Reconciliation is intended to scupper the on-going trial of suspects in cases outlined above,” the letter says.

The letter said former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader Mothetjoa Metsing are behind the new push for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission “to subvert accountability for serious crimes” that happened during their reign.
They said what is surprising is that in 2016 when Ramaphosa informed them that he had proposed a Truth Commission, Mosisili had categorically rejected the idea.

Former army commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli is in detention awaiting trial over the killing of Mahao. He has also been charged over the killing of Police Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko on the night the army attacked the police headquarters on August 30, 2014.

Several soldiers are also awaiting trial at the Maseru Central Maximum Security Prison over a spate of crimes that took place during Mosisili’s reign.
“It is our wish to inform Your Excellencies that as bereaved or affected families in the crimes specified above, we have not been consulted about the so-called Truth and Reconciliation Process,” the letter says.

“We reject the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as nothing but a ruse to avoid accountability by perpetrators of serious human rights crimes in Lesotho.” They said the “Truth and Reconciliation is neither part of the Constitution of Lesotho nor the Penal Code and is patently a calculated maneuver to deny families of victims closure founded on justice”.

The Mahao family earlier this year wrote a letter to the government asking for international judges to preside over heinous cases committed by the army during Mosisili’s tenure in government.

Nkheli Liphoto

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