THE body of the late ambassador to Italy, Sempe Lejaha, arrived in Lesotho on Friday, Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Tlohang Sekhamane has said.
The 72-year-old, who was also the chief of the Phororong and Majaheng villages in Berea district, passed away on 25 August 2015 in San Marino while on a business trip.
Chief Lejaha had been based in Rome since his appointment in 2013, and was among four diplomats recalled by government last month and expected to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Headquarters on 9 November 2015.
Other envoys who were ordered to cut short their tour of duty for “redeployment” alongside Chief Lejaha, were Bothata Tsikoane (India), Felleng Makeka (United Kingdom), and Nkopane Monyane (Switzerland).
Lesotho’s High Commissioner to South Africa, ‘Malejaka Letooane, Johannesburg Consul-General, Mophethe Sekamane, Durban Consul-General Lerato Tšosane and High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr ‘Mabaphuthi Moorosi Molapo were also instructed to return home in the middle of their contracts through letters written by Mr Sekhamane on 6 August 2015.
No reasons have been given for the mass recalls.
In an interview with the Sunday Express yesterday, Mr Sekhamane said Chief Lejaha’s remains arrived from Italy via South Africa.
“On Friday, Chief Lejaha’s body arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa from Italy and was transported by hearse from Johannesburg to Lesotho,” said Mr Sekhamane.
“Chief Lejaha’s body was welcomed by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister (Mothetjoa Metsing), other ministers and top government officials at Maseru Border Gate.
“He was then taken to the MKM mortuary and will be given an official funeral on Friday 11 September 2015. I must emphasise that it is not a state funeral because state funerals are only given to His Majesty the King and the Right Honourable the Prime Minister only. Top government officials are given an official funeral.”
Mr Sekhamane added that the diplomat would be laid to rest in his home village of Majaheng in Berea district.
Chief Lejaha was born on 24 June 1943 in Phororong, Berea District, and was of the Matšekha chieftainship.
Before he was posted to Italy in 2013, Chief Lejaha worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security as well as the Ministry of Finance.
He also worked as district administrator for Berea, Quthing and Butha Buthe districts, and was once deputy president of senate and then president of senate before he retired in January 2013.
Chief Lejaha is survived by his wife and three children.