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Set up Commission of Enquiry



The shooting at the Lesotho military headquarters on the 5th September 2017 has left Basotho bewildered. We are not exactly sure how the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lieutenant General Motsomotso, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were fatally shot.
The Prime Minister called this shooting a heinous crime, which it is. The Prime Minister also assured the nation that the government was in full control of the LDF.

The Prime Minister when announcing to the nation about these deaths further said that he had appointed Major General Lineo Poopa as acting commander.  The PM went further to inform the nation that SADC would send a Ministerial Fact-Finding Mission to Lesotho.
Conversely, Lesotho’s Foreign Minister Makgothi pointed an accusing finger at the two senior officers who were shot with the Commander.
He said that the Brigadier was armed and he was the one who shot the Commander while the Colonel was not armed. The two were later shot by the Commander’s guards.

He further stated that they went to fight the Commander and they even accused him of being a sell-out.
He concluded that both Sechele and Hashatsi were fingered by the Phumaphi Report as suspects in the killing of Brigadier Mahao.
It is this explanation that left us wondering what is going on. Maybe investigations will reveal the truth.

But we expect our government, as the Prime Minister promised, to inform the nation about what really took place.
It is because of these conflicting government statements and the fact that the three who were killed were senior army officers that a Commission of Enquiry must be established.

Why the need for a Commission of Enquiry

Immediately after the unfortunate and fatal shooting of Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015, the government moved very swiftly to establish a Commission of Enquiry. The government wrote to SADC for assistance.
This was presumably after realising that the people deserved to know the truth about what had actually happened.
In order to establish credibility over this investigation, SADC was seen as the only neutral body that could come up with a credible explanation hence the establishment of the Justice Mphaphi Phumaphi Commission of Enquiry.

One of the motivating factors for that commission was to ensure that the outcome was not going to be politicised and would be neutral and acceptable to everybody.  However, we now know that the government failed in its endeavor to shield the commission’s results from politicisation. The question is, why has no commission of enquiry been set up to investigate the deaths of these three senior officers?
The Prime Minister promised the nation that an investigation would be launched but up until now, no commission whether local or regional, has been established to ascertain what really transpired during that day.

I am of the strongest view that the nation has the right to know what really happened on September 5, 2017. We have since learnt from our Foreign Minister that the Commander’s Office is a one story building, mounted with cameras.
No visitor to the Commander is allowed to get into this office armed. He further said, “When the two officers went in only Brigadier Sechele was armed with a sidearm while Colonel Hashatsi was unarmed”.

The mother of Hashatsi has also corroborated the Minister with a similar explanation of the chain of events.
She said she was told by some senior officers who worked with Hashatsi that her son was unarmed and he was not even wearing a bulletproof vest, suggesting that he was not ready for any combat operation.

The Foreign Minister also stated that “Sechele was led in armed only on account of his senior rank of Brigadier”. He said after Sechele fatally shot the Commander, he came out first with his hands and gun raised in the air and Hashatsi also did the same.
The two were subsequently gunned down by the Commanders guards, the Minister told the SABC. He said Sechele died instantly while Hashatsi died from his wounds at the hospital.

The Minister further stated that “Hashatsi was found with his hand clinching to a hand grenade on the ground where he had fallen outside the Commander’s office but a few meters away on the ground”.
If these allegations made by the minister are true then the investigators have their work cut out.
We expect the PM to establish a Commission of Enquiry that would get to the bottom of the matter.

The only solution to this conundrum is a Commission of Enquiry to establish what really happened on that fateful Monday. The government is in a better position to inform the nation as to what happened.  This matter is too serious to be taken lightly. It is also too delicate and sensitive for the stability of this nation and the discipline of the army itself.

The current conflicting narratives from different quarters are not helping. We need to have a transparent investigative process that will inspire confidence not only in the LDF but in the current political leadership. Serious questions must be asked and answers must be procured.
The establishment of a Commission of Enquiry is the only solution to solve this matter.

Dr Fako Likoti

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