Former PS blames RCL infighting
. . . as house, car burnt in arson attack
FORMER Public Service principal secretary (PS) ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie says Friday morning’s arson attack on her Mazenod home was likely in retaliation for her mediation in the infighting-plagued Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
Ms Lemphane-Letsie’s Ha-Motloheloa, Mazenod house and vehicle were set on fire by unknown assailants in the wee hours of Friday. While Ms Lemphane-Letsie, her four children and a woman she stays with were not harmed by the blaze, the house and car were extensively damaged.
The arson attack occurred two days after RCL leaders issued conflicting statements about the status of the party’s exiled leader Keketso Rantšo and her deputy Dr Motloheloa Phooko fueling speculation of a power struggle in the year-old party.
On Wednesday, RCL Secretary-General Mamolula Ndabe announced Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko had resigned from their positions. However, Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko have since denied the claim, saying it was meant to cause divisions in the RCL which is an offshoot of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy.
According to sources, two factions have emerged in the party, with Ms Rantšo, Dr Phooko and RCL youth league leader Retšelisitsoe Lesane pitted against Ms Ndabe and other National Executive Committee members.
Ms Lemphane-Letsi, who is an RCL member, told the Sunday Express yesterday she suspected the people behind the attack were party members irked by her decision to mediate between the two camps.
Narrating her ordeal, the former PS said she and her family woke up to the sight of fire and smoke coming from the kitchen around midnight.
“It was between 12.30 and 1am when a lady I stay with shouted my name saying the house and car were on fire. I was met by huge flames and smoke on my kitchen door,” said Ms Lemphane-Letsie.
“I feared that we would be stuck and get burnt inside the house. When I looked outside, I saw that my vehicle was also in flames.”
Fearful but determined to come out of the house alive, Ms Lemphane-Letsie said they collected water in various containers to put out the fire.
She said after successfully dousing the flames in her kitchen, they proceeded to pour water on the car to extinguish the blaze.
The neighbours also came to help put out the fire, among whom were police officers who called the Maseru Rural Station in Mazenod for assistance.
“We have since reported the case to the police who recovered a petrol container I strongly believe was poured on my home and vehicle before setting them alight,” she said, adding there were droplets of petrol around the damaged properties.
Ms Lemphane-Letsie said the attack was politically-motivated due to her efforts to resolve the impasse in her party.
“I don’t have any reason to believe this was a random crime. It was politically-motivated since it occurred at a time when I am trying to mediate between two factions within my party,” she said, adding the internecine feud had been ongoing “for a long time now”.
“The reason I was working hard to mediate between the two camps was because I didn’t want my party to be bogged down by the infighting rocking political parties in our country. I wanted us to remain strong.”
Asked if she now feared for her life, Ms Lemphane-Letsie said she was now more determined than ever to resolve the factionalism.
“Initially, I was very scared. But after a number of people visited to offer their support, I gained a lot of emotional strength,” she said.
“As an RCL member, I am now more determined than ever to ensure there is peace and stability within the party.”
Ms Lemphane-Letsie added: “This was a direct attack on my life, and since I survived, I hope the damage inflicted on my property will be a peace offering for my party. I will not stop mediating until my efforts pay off.”
Commenting on the issue, police deputy spokesperson Senior Inspector Lerato Motseki said arson and malicious damage to property cases had been opened.
“It is true that we received a report that a 46-year old ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie’s house and vehicle were set on fire between 12 and 1am on Friday morning,” Senior Inspector Motseki said.
“We have opened two cases, namely arson and malicious damage to property as per the Penal Code of 2010’s section 72 and 72 respectively. Investigations are ongoing.”