‘Mahao’s blood shaped Lesotho’s history’

‘Mahao’s blood shaped Lesotho’s history’

MASERU – THE family of the late army commander Maaparankoe Mahao says they believe the blood of their son played a major role in shaping the history of Lesotho. Mahao’s elder brother, Professor Nqosa Mahao, said the family is now at peace almost three years after their son was murdered.
He was speaking at a function to mark what would have been Mahao’s 49th birthday in Mokema.

For the first time, several senior Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers attended the ‘birthday’ celebrations in what could be a sign of the thawing of relations between the army and the Mahao family.
Prof Mahao told the gathering that the family, which barred the army from Mahao’s burial, is now prepared to work with the LDF to ensure justice for the family.

“We are here to celebrate a real man’s birthday. I talked to him during his last days telling him to stay indoors but he refused saying if his death could rescue Basotho he would be a happy man,” Prof Mahao said.

He said organisations such as the African Union (AU) and SADC had stood up to investigate their brother’s death.
Mahao was gunned down on June 25, 2015 during an operation the army said was meant to clamp down on mutiny. His killing infuriated the international community.

SADC also sprang into action and set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of Mahao’s death.
The SADC commission ruled that there was no mutiny and that Mahao’s killers must be arrested and prosecuted.
The then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili however declined to implement the SADC recommendations.

Things only began to move after Mosisili was ousted in last June’s general election and was replaced by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Former army commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli and several other senior army officers were arrested late last year in connection with Mahao’s killing.
The SADC commission also recommended major constitutional, public service, judicial and security sector reforms to address Lesotho’s perennial political challenges.

Prof Mahao said Lesotho would not be talking of any reforms if his brother had not been killed.
He said because of his brother’s death, Lesotho is today being ruled by a government that does not chase its own people like Thuso Litjobo.
Litjobo is a youth league leader of the Alliance of Democrats, one of the key coalition partners, who was once locked up by the police for his activism.
“We are being ruled by a government that does not throw people in Mohale Dam,” he said.

Mahao was referring to an incident that saw three men being thrown into Mohale Dam by rogue elements of the Lesotho Defence Force. The three were retrieved from the dam by Lesotho and South African divers.

The suspects, who include a Brigadier, have been remanded in custody in connection with the murder.
Mahao said the family has now opened their doors to the army “because the rebels are being arrested”.

“Here is the place where your Commander was killed and this place belongs to the army. We are going to hand it over to the LDF to inform other soldiers that a true soldier lives a real life and does not take bribes to be a mercenary,” Mahao said.

He also said they are going to write a proposal to the Prime Minister requesting him to gazette “the real Phumaphi Report”, not the one Mosisili tabled in Parliament with expunged pages.

At the time of the tabling of the report, the Mosisili-led government denied that it had tampered with the report.
Prof Mahao said they are also requesting a decent military burial for their brother on June 25, the date he was murdered three years ago.
He added they only want foreign judges to preside over the case of their brother.

The families of the late Sub-inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko, Mohau Qobete, a security guard who was shot in Maseru, and of four Mafeteng young men who were shot by the soldiers were also in attendance.

“We are here to support Mahao’s family as victims of the previous government. We have been working together for so long now,” Mosito Ramohloko, the brother of the late Mokheseng, said.

Meanwhile, Transformation Resource Centre director Tsikoane Peshoane urged all Basotho to work for peace so that history does not repeat itself.

Nkheli Liphoto

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