Thabane meets ex-army officers

Thabane meets ex-army officers

MASERU – PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane held a crisis meeting with some former army officers last Thursday to discuss ways of restoring the army’s credibility in the eyes of the public. Thabane confirmed the meeting to thepost but refused to give details of what was discussed.
“I will organise a press conference where I will meet with all the media houses to tell you about this,” Thabane said.
He said he would not leave the media in the dark when dealing with issues regarding the army.

The press conference is likely to take place next week. According to sources close to the matter, the premier invited the former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers to sit down and discuss what should be done to solve problems rocking the army. The source said Thabane expressed concern over “the soiled reputation of the Lesotho Defence Force”.

The source said the premier wanted inputs from the ex-officers on how to bring the army back to track in light of “the many serious crimes that are alleged to have been committed by soldiers”. The meeting between Thabane and the ex-officers comes at a time when the police have invited divers from the South African Police Service to help in the search of three civilians who were allegedly strangled by some soldiers and thrown into Mohale Dam in May.
The soldiers are suspected to have kidnapped the three men after they were released from detention by the police without any charge.
It is suspected that the soldiers were angry that the men were in the company of another man who shot and killed a soldier and injured another during a gunfight at the Maseru Border Gate in May.

Eight soldiers have since been arrested and charged with the murder. The army has however distanced itself from the murder.

Thabane’s meeting with the former soldiers comes barely a month after three senior army officers, including the commander Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo were gunned down at the Ratjomose barracks in Maseru. The government said Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi were behind Motšomotšo’s assassination after he wanted to hand them over to the police for interrogation.

The army has said it is hunting rogue soldiers who were part of the assassination plot. The Lesotho army has had an uneasy relationship with Thabane following the attack on State House and police stations on August 30, 2014. The Thabane-led government said the attack was an attempted coup.
Other soldiers are still wanted in connection with the bombing of the home of former police commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana, and Thabane’s then girlfriend now wife, Liabiloe Ramoholi, in 2012.

Last Friday three LDF members appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court charged with the murder of Sub-inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko during the August 2014 military raid. The army officers were remanded in custody pending further investigations.
The police are also probing some soldiers for killing a woman near the home of the former commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli.
The Lesotho government last month requested a standby force from SADC to quell mutiny within the LDF.
SADC has already deployed its military intelligence agents in the country to assess the situation on the ground.

Majara Molupe

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