Army committed to SADC probe: Mokhosi
Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi on Friday reiterated the army’s commitment to the SADC Commission of Inquiry currently underway in Maseru.
Mr Mokhosi was reacting to a story published on Thursday by the Post newspaper claiming the military would no longer cooperate with the probe into the fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao by his colleagues three months ago.
The article, headlined ‘Army Walks Out’ claimed LDF lawyer, Advocate Salemane Phafane (King’s Counsel) had made the announcement during the commission’s sitting on Tuesday afternoon.
Advocate Phafane has since distanced himself from the story, pointing out he was not even at the State Library that day, where the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led commission is holding public hearings into the 25 June shooting of Lieutenant-General Mahao, allegedly while resisting arrest for suspected mutiny.
The Post has since written to Mr Mokhosi apologising for the story, which the weekly said was “incorrect in all aspects”.
Mr Mokhosi, who was in the company of Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi and senior LDF officials led by Major General Lineo Poopa, said: “As the Minister responsible for the army, I have read with shock and disappointment a news story published in one of the local newspapers, the Post, in its Volume 1 issue 44 of 24 to 30 September 2015 under the headline ‘Army Walks Out’.
“According to the report, the army has reached a decision not to cooperate and work with the commission of Justice Phumaphi anymore. The newspaper goes on to explain that the decision was communicated to the commission by Advocate Salemane Phafane (KC).
“I would like to clarify to the nation that until 25 September 2015, government, which the army is part of, has only been absent during the testimony of one witness (Ms Mahao) because we had advised ourselves it was not really necessary to cross-examine that particular witness.
“Therefore, it is entirely not true that the army has reached a decision not to be cooperative with the commission.”
Mr Mokhosi appealed to all media houses to perform their duties “responsibly”.
The minister concluded by reiterating that government was “still fully committed to supporting the commission and cooperating with it. Anyone summoned to appear before the commission, including the army, will accordingly comply. There is no way the government will reject the commission. After all, you should be aware that although it is called a SADC Commission, it is in fact, a commission of the government of Lesotho because it is government which initiated efforts to convene it.”
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