POLICE don’t believe foul play was involved in the car accident that killed All Basotho Convention (ABC) candidate for Thupa-Kubu constituency in the 3 June 2017 parliamentary election, Afrika Makakane, on Thursday night, amid claims by the former legislator’s son that he might have been shot before losing control of the vehicle in Ha Nchela, Thaba-Bosiu.
Tributes having been pouring in from ABC supporters and officials as well as ordinary Basotho for the outspoken and multi-talented former legislator who was also a poet and former trade unionist.
Police deputy spokesperson, Senior Inspector Lerato Motseki, yesterday told the Sunday Express the accident occurred between 4 and 5pm on Thursday.
She said eyewitnesses at the scene stated that Mr Makakane, who was headed for Maseru, was driving a white 4×4 bakkie alone at a high speed and failed to negotiate a curve.
“Because of the high speed, the eyewitnesses said the driver lost control of the vehicle at the curve and it rolled over a number of times,” said SIP Motseki said.
“We were also told that he was thrown out of the car while it was rolling over before it stopped at the bottom of a valley towards the Phuthiatsana River.”
She said passers-by tried to assist Mr Makakane, who was gasping for breath, before he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police investigations at the scene of the accident, SIP Motseki said, had so far not elicited any signs of foul play although they were continuing.
This was after Mr Makakane’s son, Tsepo, told the Lesotho News Agency the head and body injuries on his father’s body looked like bullet entrance wounds although there were no exit wounds.
Tsepo, who is also National University of Lesotho (NUL) Student Representative Council (SRC) president, said the wounds gave the impression his father had been shot from a distant range.
He said Mr Makakane’s body had since been scanned by doctors which revealed that there were no skull fractures “except for shallow holes”.
Tsepo said his father had another hole on the left rib cage, “which could have been the reason for the internal bleeding to spread to his lungs”.
He said those reasons had convinced the family that his father’s death was not an accident. However, when the Sunday Express contacted Tsepo’s mobile phone, on Friday, it was answered by a woman who introduced herself as his aunt.
When asked about the family’s position on the accident, the aunt said it was too early to make a determination on the matter since it was still being investigated.
Efforts to contact Tsepo again yesterday were fruitless as his phone was unreachable.
Tsepo’s claims ignited speculation on social media and other forums that the accident could have been a hit job in light of rumours the NUL SRC president was the person who had been targeted by the person who shot and killed a female student on 28 April 2017.
Tumelo Mohlomi (24), a fourth-year student from Qacha’s Nek, was shot in the back of the head and died on the spot at a popular night spot just outside the Roma-based university. The suspect, Police Constable (PC) Lefa Phihlela, who was allegedly among the police officers who had come to close the bar that evening, has since been charged with murder.
Ms Mohlomi’s killing happened at a time when the university and the students on one hand and the government on the other were locked in a stalemate over tuition fees.
The stalemate resulted in protests in which several students and NUL staff members were injured. However, the students have resumed attending lectures to enable negotiations between the university and the government over their tuition fees.
Tsepo has been at the forefront of the standoff between the students and authorities over the tuition fees, hence the speculation he could have been the target of the shooting and not Ms Mohlomi. He had reportedly just left her when she was shot dead.
However, SIP Motseki urged the Makakane family and Basotho at large to wait for the results of a post-mortem before making conclusions.
“I urge the family and all the people speculating about the accident to wait for the post-mortem results before making their own conclusions on this issue,” she said.
“The post-mortem is not conducted by the police but by doctors. Only after it has been released can conclusions be made on this issue.
“It is very unfortunate that some people are making baseless claims. We want to assure Basotho that investigations are continuing, but so far nothing has suggested there was foul play.”