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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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Lawyer in trouble



A local lawyer, Advocate Molefi Makase, is in soup after he flew into a rage, insulting his wife and smashing her phone at a police station.

It was not possible to establish why Adv Makase was so mad at his wife. He is now expected to appear before the Tšifa-li-Mali Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, he was released from custody on free bail on condition that he attends remands.

Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa granted Advocate Makase bail after his lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Machaile, pleaded that he had to appear for his clients in the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Makase is facing two charges of breaching peace and malicious damage to property.

According to the charge sheet, on October 5, 2023, within the precincts of the Leribe Police Station, Advocate Makase allegedly used obscene, threatening, or insulting language or behaviour, or acted with an intent to incite a breach of the peace.

The prosecution alleges that the lawyer shouted at his wife, ’Mamahao Makase, and damaged her Huawei Y5P cell phone “with an intention to cause harm” right at police station.

During his initial appearance before Magistrate Koaesa, Advocate Makase expressed remorse for his actions and sought the court’s leniency, pleading for bail due to an impending appearance in the Court of Appeal.

His lawyer, Advocate Machaile, informed the court that an arrangement had been made with the police to secure his release the following day, as he had spent a night in detention.

Advocate Machaile recounted his efforts to persuade the police to release him on the day of his arrest.

He noted that the police had assured them of his release the following day, which indeed came to fruition.

Following his release, he was instructed to present himself before the court, which he dutifully complied with.

Advocate Machaile underscored Advocate Makase’s standing as a recognised legal practitioner in the court.

Notably, he was scheduled to appear in the Court of Appeal but had to reschedule his commitment later in the day to accommodate his court appearance.

Advocate Machaile asserted that Advocate Makase presented no flight risk, as he resides in Hlotse with his family and has no motive to evade his legal obligations.

He respectfully petitioned the court for his release on bail, emphasising that he had demonstrated his ability to adhere to the court’s conditions.

The Crown Counsel, Advocate Taelo Sello, expressed no objection to the bail application, acknowledging that the accused had a forthcoming matter in the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court granted Advocate Makase bail without any financial conditions, with the stipulation that he must not tamper with state witnesses and must fully participate in the trial process until its conclusion.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Trio in court for killing ‘witches’



THREE elderly women were all stabbed to death with a spear during a deadly night after they were accused of being witches.

Three suspects, all from Ha-Kholoko village in Roma, appeared in the High Court this week facing a charge of murder.
They are Jakobo Mofolo, Oele Poto, and Pakiso Lehoko.

They accused the elderly women of bewitching one of Poto’s relative who had died.

The stunning details of the murder was unravelled in court this week, thanks to Tlhaba Bochabela, 32, who is the crown witness.

Bochabela told High Court judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, last week that he had been invited to become part of the murder group but chickened out at the last minute.

Bochabela said in March 2020, he was invited by Rethabile Poto to come to his house in the evening.

He said when he went there, he found Mofolo, Poto, and Lehoko already at the house. There were two other men who he did not identify.

“I was told that the very same night we were going to do some task, we were going to kill some people,” Bochabela told Justice Hlaele.

He said he asked which people were going to be killed and was told that they were ’Malekhooa Maeka, ’Mathlokomelo Poto, ’Mampolokeng Masasa.

They said the three women had successfully bewitched Rethabile Poto’s uncle leading to his death.

Bochabela said after he was told of this plot, he agreed to implement it but requested that he be allowed to go to his house to fetch his weapon.

He said Lehoko was however suspicious that he was withdrawing from the plot and mockingly said “let this woman go and sleep, we can see that he is afraid and is running away”.

Bochabela said the only person he told the truth to, that he was indeed going to his home to sleep instead of going to murder the three elderly women was Mofolo who also told him that he was leaving too.

He said he told Mofolo that he felt uncomfortable with the murder plan.

Bochabela said he left and when he arrived at his place he told his wife all about the meeting and the plot to kill the women.

He said his wife commended him for his decision to pull out.

“I told my wife to lock the door and not respond to anyone that would come knocking looking for me,” Bochabela said.

He said later in the night, Rethabile Poto arrived at his place and called him out but they did not respond until he left.

Bochabela said in the morning they discovered that indeed the men had carried out their mission.

The village chief of Ha-Kholoko, Chief Thabang Lehoko, told Justice Hlaele that it was between 11 pm and 12 midnight when he received a phone call from one Pakiso Maseka who is a neighbour to one of the murdered women.

Chief Lehoko said Maseka told him to rush to ’Mampolokeng Masasa’s place to see what evil had been done to her.

“I rushed to Masasa’s place and on arrival I found Pakiso in the company of Moitheri Masasa,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said he found the old lady on the bed, naked with her legs spread wide.

“I was embarrassed by the sight of the old lady in that state, naked and covered in blood,” the chief said.

He said he went out and asked Maseka what had happened but Maseka referred him to Moitheri Masasa.

Chief Lehoko said Masasa told him that there were people with spears who had threatened to kill him if he came out of the house.

He said Maseka said he knew that Masasa’s neighbour, ’Malekhooa Maeka, was a light sleeper and she could have heard something.

The chief then sent one Patrick Lehoko to Maeka’s house to check if she had heard anything but Patrick came back saying Maeka was not at her house.

“I immediately stood up and went to ’Malekhooa’s place,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said when he arrived, he knocked at her door but there was no response so he kicked the door open, went in and called out ’Malekhooa Maeka by name.

Chief Lehoko said he then lit his phone and saw her lying in bed covered in blankets.

He said he then went closer to her and shook her but she was heavy.

Chief Lehoko said he tried to shake her again one last time while still calling her out but he touched blood.

He said he immediately left and went back to tell others that Maeka seemed to be dead too.

“I decided to go and buy airtime from the nearest shop which I had passed through near ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s home.”

He said on his way he met one Sebata Poto who asked him who he was.

Chief Lehoko said he only replied by telling him that the two women, Masasa and Maeka, had been murdered.

He said Sebata Poto told him that “’Matlhokomelo has been stabbed with a spear too”.

Chief Lehoko said he rushed to ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s house where he found her seated in the middle of the house supported by her children with blood oozing from her chest, gasping for air.

“I stepped out and went to get airtime, but I found her dead when I returned from the shop,” the chief said.

The case continues.

Tholoana Lesenya

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Opposition fights back



THE opposition is launching a nasty fightback after Prime Minister Sam Matekane defanged their no-confidence motion by roping in new partners to firm up his government.

Matekane’s surprise deal with the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has trimmed the opposition’s support in parliament and thrown their motion into doubt.

But the opposition has now filed another motion that seeks to get Matekane and his MPs disqualified from parliament on account that they were elected when they had business interests with the government.

The motion is based on section 59 of the constitution which disqualifies a person from being sworn-in as an MP if they have “any such interest in any such government contract as may be so prescribed”.

Section 59 (6) describes a government contract as “any contract made with the Government of Lesotho or with a department of that Government or with an officer of that Government contracting as such”.

Prime Minister Matekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) has a history of winning road construction tenders. Other Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MPs, most of whom were in business, had had business dealings with the government.

It is however not clear if the MPs were still doing business with the government at the time of their swearing-in.
Matekane’s MGC Park is housing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is a government institution established by the constitution, getting its funds from the consolidated funds.

The motion was brought by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane who is a key figure in the opposition’s bid to topple Matekane.

The motion appears to be a long shot but should be taken in the context of a political game that has become nasty.
Advocate Rakuoane said the IEC’s tenancy at the MGC is one of their targets.

“The IEC is one of the government departments,” Rakuoane said.

“It is currently unethical that it has hired the prime minister’s building.”

“But after the motion, he will have to cut ties with the IEC or he will be kicked out of parliament.”

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said although the IEC is an independent body, it can still be regarded as part of the government because it gets its funding from the consolidated fund.

The Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM)’s Reverend Tšepo Lipholo, who seconded the motion, said the Matekane-led government “is dominated by tenderpreneurs who have been doing business with the government since a long time ago”.

“Now they have joined politics, they must not do business with the government,” Lipholo said.

He said some of the MPs in the ruling parties are still doing business with the government despite their promises before the election to stop doing that.

“Those who will not abide by the law should be disqualified as MPs,” Lipholo said.

“Basotho’s small businesses are collapsing day-by-day, yet people who are in power continue to take tenders for themselves.”

He applauded the Abia constituency MP Thuso Makhalanyane, who was recently expelled from Matekane’s RFP for rebellion because he withdrew his car from government engagement after he was sworn in as an MP.

“He set a good example by withdrawing his vehicle where it was hired by the government,” Lipholo said.

Rakuoane said during the past 30 years after Lesotho’s return to democratic rule, section 59 of the constitution has not been attended to even when it was clear that some MPs had business dealings with the government.

“This section stops you from entering parliament when doing business with the government. Those who are already members will have to leave,” he said.

Rakuoane said they are waiting for Speaker Tlohang Sekhamane to sign the motion so that the parliament business committee can set a date for its debate.

“The law will also serve to assist ordinary Basotho businesses as they will not compete with the executive,” he said.

“There are many Basotho businesses in business these MPs are in. They must get those tenders instead.”

The new motion comes barely a week after a court application aimed at disqualifying Mokhothu.

The government-sponsored application sought the Constitutional Court to declare Mokhothu unfit to be prime minister because he was convicted of fraud in 2007.

Mokhothu has been suggested as Matekane’s replacement should the motion of no confidence pass in parliament.

Nkheli Liphoto

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