How army boss was killed

How army boss was killed

MASERU – Army commander Lt Gen Khoantle Motšomotšo was accused of “selling out” to the police and the government before he was shot dead.
Astounding details are emerging of what happened moments before the Tuesday morning shootout that led to the death of Lt Gen Motšomotšo, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Lieutenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

Hashatsi was the commander of the Special Forces while Sechele was the legal adviser and chief prosecutor of the army.
Although the army and the police are still investigating the matter, it is now known that it was Brigadier Sechele who fired the shot that instantly killed the commander.
Apart from the three there was another officer who was in the commander’s office and witnessed the whole incident. His identity is being protected because he is most likely to be a key witness.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lesogo Makgothi told thepost last night that in a brief exchange of words Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi accused Lt Gen Motsomotso of abandoning them.
Makgothi said earlier some three officers accused of various crimes had been summoned by the police.

And a few days earlier, the minister said, Lt Gen Motsomotso had dismissed four officers who were on contract and had passed their retirement age. He said it was not clear whether those officers were still in the army. Makgothi said on Tuesday morning Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi went to the general’s office block, a double storey building.
They were put through a metal detector and Brigadier Sechele was found to have a firearm, the minister said, adding that he was however allowed to proceed because it is not unusual for officers of his rank to have a gun.

The minister could not corroborate information that the two had told guards at the building that Lt Gen Motsomotso had called them.
He however said once inside the office the two officers asked Lt Gen Motsomotso why he was handing them over to the police.
“We gather that Lt Gen Motsomotso said if the two had any concerns they should wait outside so he could explain further,” Makgothi said.
“He told them that this had to be done but if they are apprehensive about certain issues then he could explain.”

Makgothi said it was at that moment that Brigadier Sechele pulled his gun and shot the commander, killing him instantly.
First to come out of the office was Colonel Hashatsi, who the minister said was caught in a hail of bullets near the office block. Brigadier Sechele followed moments later with his gun in the air.
“He too was shot dead by soldiers on the ground floor of the building.”

Makgothi said one grenade suspected to belong to Brigadier Sechele was found in a corner in the commander’s office.
Colonel Hashatsi, the minister revealed, also had a hand grenade that was partially covered in the ground.
He said Brigadier Sechele died on the spot while Colonel Hashatsi was taken to hospital where he later died.
Makgothi was quick to dispel fears and allegations that Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele had a political motive.
“This was an act by two desperate people who knew that the net was closing in on them. Remember these are two people who are alleged to have played a central role in the killing of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.”

In their testimonies to the SADC Commission in 2015, Colonel Hashatsi and Brigadier Sechele refused to admit that they were part of the operation that killed Lt Gen Mahao. They also refused to give the names of the soldiers who took part in the operation, citing military regulations and constitutional protections against self-incrimination.
Yet despite their evasive statements speculation has been rife that they were part of the operation.

Makgothi told thepost that it was sad that Lt Gen Motsomotso had died at a time he was about to start making progress on the implementation of the SADC recommendations.
He said in August Lt Gen Motsomotso had attended the SADC Double Troika Summit of Defence and Security Chiefs in Pretoria.
“At that meeting he presented a report on how he was going to help with the smooth implementation of the SADC commission’s recommendations.”

“He was every much committed to subjecting himself to civilian rule. If he was not then he would not have attended that meeting and presented that report.”
Although probably not linked to any political plot, the killing of Lt Gen Motsomotso has triggered fears of a fresh round of instability in the army and the country.
But at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon Prime Minister Thomas Thabane said “fortunately there is a still calm in the army after the incident”.
“The army authorities have briefed me and they told me that the situation will not change.”

He said Major General Lineo Poopa is now the acting commander as he is the most senior officer.
“The government is still intact and the people should not be confused. I have reported to the King about these totally illegal killings,” the prime minister said.
He said the army, the police and the National Security Service are working together to ensure stability in the country.
The incident has triggered an immediate reaction from SADC. South African president Jacob Zuma is reported to have expressed revulsion at the “senseless and regrettable killing” of Lt Gen Motsomotso.

The government is expected to brief the SADC Oversight Committee, already in the country, about the incident.
The first team of officials of the SADC Double Troika of Defence and Security arrived in the country last night to understand the security situation and help with the reforms.
SADC’s Ministerial Double Troika is also expected in the country this week. Makgothi also revealed that there will be a standby army from SADC countries during the implementation of the reforms.

“They will probably come from South Africa. Angola and Mozambique are ready to help,” he said.
Meanwhile thepost has been told that the police had summoned four other soldiers accused of the killing Lisebo Tang at former army commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli’s residence in 2015.

Staff Reporter

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