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Military send-off, compensation for Mahao

Pascalinah Kabi

The government has resolved to posthumously reinstate the slain army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, to the rank of Lieutenant General and compensate his family.

This follows a request by Lt-Gen Mahao’s family that he be posthumously reinstated to his former position as LDF Commander and at the rank of Lieutenant General.

A statement issued on Friday by the office of the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, indicates that the government decision was made during a cabinet sitting on Tuesday.

Government spokesperson, Nthakeng Selinyane, read the statement on behalf of the government.

Mr Selinyane said that the cabinet resolved to honour the request of the Mahao family and that the “purported defrocking the deceased of his rank of Lieutenant General at the time of his decommissioning by the (former Pakalitha Mosisili-led) government…be nullified and reserved by an act of law”.

Mr Selinyane said the cabinet further directed the Law Office “to set in motion the processes towards the enactment of a gazette to repeal the 22 May 2015 gazette that appointed Retired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli and demoted Lt-Gen Mahao”.

“The law office is directed to set in motion the processes towards enactment of a gazette reinstating Lt-Gen Mahao to the rank and position of Lieutenant General and Commander of the LDF as published in the gazette of 29 August 2014 which the 22 May 2015 gazette purported to repeal.

“The government has already discharged the service gratuities of the late Lt-Gen Mahao at his rank as Lt-Gen and position of former commander, and it is on the course to closing compensation for his tragic death on the same terms,” Mr Selinyane said.

He said the government had also decided to honour the request of the Mahao family and the LDF command that the late Lt-Gen Mahao be accorded a fitting military final send-off in accordance with the LDF traditions.

He further said the government and the Mahao family had agreed that the LDF will perform the burial rituals at Mokena on 7 July this year.

Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by his LDF colleagues on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. The LDF claimed Lt-Gen Mahao had resisted arrest for allegedly leading a mutiny when he was killed but that claim was later dismissed as false by a Southern African Development Community (SADC) inquiry into his death.

Lt-Gen Mahao’s family accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

Lt-Gen Mahao was appointed as LDF commander on 29 August 2014 after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fired the then army commander, Retired Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli for alleged insubordination.

However, Rtd Lt-Gen Kamoli rejected the dismissal challenging its legitimacy and allegedly proceeded to launch a coup attempt on 30 August 2014. The coup attempt kick-started a chain of events that culminated in the snap elections of February 2015 which ushered in the former seven parties’ coalition in place of Dr Thabane’s first government.

Upon assuming power, the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven-party coalition reinstated Lt-Gen Kamoli, arguing that his dismissal and Lt-Gen Mahao’s promotion were illegal.

Rtd Lt Gen Kamoli was reinstated in a Government Gazette dated 22 May 2015. Another gazette that was issued on the same day announced the termination of Lt-Gen Mahao’s appointment as LDF commander and demoted him to his earlier rank as a Brigadier.

Lt-Gen Mahao challenged his demotion in the High Court and the case collapsed after he was assassinated on 25 June 2015 by his LDF colleagues.

The SADC commission of inquiry into Lt-Gen Mahao’s death was headed by retired Botswana judge Mpaphi Phumaphi and it found that Dr Thabane’s appointment of Lt-Gen Mahao as army commander was lawful.

SADC also recommended, among other things, that the government should investigate the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao and prosecute those found to be responsible.

However, the former coalition of Pakalitha Mosisili did nothing to probe the murder and other atrocities perpetrated by the LDF during its reign.

It was only after Dr Thabane’s return to power in the wake of the 3 June 2017 elections that the police investigated and subsequently arrested eight LDF officers in connection with Lt-Gen Mahao’s assassination.

The eight soldiers are Captain Litekanyo Nyakane; Captain Haleo Makara; Sergeant Lekhooa Moepi; Sergeant Motsamai Fako; Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli; Corporal Motšoane Machai; Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi.

While welcoming the government efforts to bring finality to the matter, the Mahao family wrote to the government in February this year and further requested that Lt-Gen Mahao be accorded a military send-off to coincide with the anniversary of his assassination. The family further requested that he be posthumously reinstated to his former position as LDF Commander and at the rank of Lt-Gen.




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