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Lekhooa dodges police

 

. . . as director of military intelligence summoned for interrogation

Pascalinah Kabi

DIRECTOR of Military Intelligence, Colonel Tumo Lekhooa, has not honoured his promise to report to the police’s interrogation unit to assist with investigations into a number of unresolved crimes.

According to Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, Col Lekhooa had made a commitment to report to the agency’s headquarters in Maseru last Tuesday but did not pitch up.

Speculation has been rife this week that Col Lekhooa — who has been on leave since being dismissed as National Security Service director-general and sent back to the Lesotho defence Force (LDF) in July this year by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane – had fled the country.

However, the Sunday Express was unable to substantiate the rumours. LDF spokesperson, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi, told this publication this past week that Col Lekhooa was on leave and declined a request for the latter’s contact details.

Col Lekhooa was appointed as NSS director-general last September by former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili, leaving his substantive role as Director of Military Intelligence. The senior officer had been appointed on a three-year “secondment” contract, which meant that he would return to the LDF after the lapsing of the period.

Colonel Lekhooa had replaced Lerotholi Seeiso as NSS director-general, after the latter left his job on 31 March 2016.

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However, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane terminated his tenure at the NSS as part of efforts by his government to remove vestiges of the Mosisili era from strategic government agencies.

Col Lekhooa has since challenged his removal from the spy agency barely a year after his appointment and redeployment to the LDF in the courts of law. In his court challenge, the senior officer argues that his dismissal and redeployment was unprocedural.

Commissioner Molibeli said Col Lekhooa had been summoned by the police earlier this month along with other persons of interest in ongoing investigations.

Among the persons of interest was Brigadier Ramanka Mokaloba, who was quizzed on 3 November 2017 over a number of unresolved crimes such as the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of three Maseru residences and 30 August 2014 killing of Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko.

Former LDF commander, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli has since been charged with 14 attempted murder counts in the 27 January 2014 simultaneous bombings of the Moshoeshoe II homes of First Lady Maesiah Thabane, ‘Mamoshoeshoe Moletsane and the Ha Abia residence of former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.

Lt-Gen was also charged with murdering Sub-inspector Ramahloko during a 30 August 2014 predawn LDF raid on three Maseru police stations.

While the military claimed the raid was meant to foil a Lesotho Mounted Police Service plan to arm civilians, it was widely described as an attempt to topple the Dr Thabane-led first coalition government.

 

The raid was conducted soon after Dr Thabane had fired Lt-Gen Kamoli as LDF chief, a decision which the latter resisted.

Brig Mokaloba was also interrogated over the 25 June 2015 killing of former LDF commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao, by his erstwhile army colleagues.

Lt-Gen Mahao was shot dead by his former subordinates in Mokema, who claimed he had resisted arrest for suspected mutiny.

The Mahao family has since dismissed the claim, and instead accused the army of killing him in cold blood.

Brig Mokaloba was released the same day, although the police indicated they could be summon him again since investigations into the crimes were ongoing.

Commissioner Molibeli said Col Lekhooa had requested to report to police headquarters on 7 November since he had other commitments. “It is true that he was asked to report to the police and I know for sure that he requested to report himself on 7 November,” the top cop said.

“He, however, did not report to the police and not give valid reasons for failing to avail himself.”

When asked which cases police wanted to interrogate Col Lekhooa, Commissioner Molibeli would not be drawn to get into detail, saying the issues were sensitive.

The LDF’s Military Intelligence wing has come into the spotlight after the government expressed concern to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) about its failure to anticipate the 5 September 2017 assassination of LDF commander, Lt-Gen Khoantle Motšomotšo, by his subordinates.

Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi had reportedly accused Lt-Gen Motšomotšo of failing to stop the prosecution of LDF members implicated in various crimes before shooting the LDF chief dead.

Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi were eventually killed in a hail of bullets from Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards as they left the office complex.

As a result, the government wants a SADC contingent of military, security, intelligence and civilian experts headed for Lesotho on 20 November 2017 to prioritise overhauling the Military Intelligence since it was integral to the operations of the army.

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