Opposition pays tribute to ‘selfless’ lawyers
The opposition alliance is today holding a ‘fun walk’ in Maseru aimed at raising funds for lawyers representing 23 Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members on trial for suspected mutiny.
The soldiers were arrested between May and June this year and are detained at Maseru Maximum Security Prison. LDF authorities accuse the group and the now late former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, of plotting a mutiny between September 2014 and May 2015. Lieutenant-General Mahao was shot dead by the LDF on 25 June this year just outside Maseru, allegedly as he resisted arrest for the mutiny.
On the other hand, the 23 LDF members have been appearing before a Court Martial since last month and are being represented free of charge by Advocate Tumisang Mosotho, Attorney Khotso Nthontho, Advocate Christopher Lephuthing, Advocate Koili Ndebele and Advocate Haae Phoofolo (King’s Counsel).
But the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) have decided to raise funds for the “selfless” lawyers as a show of appreciation.
BNP spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe said the lawyers had “abandoned” their businesses and volunteered to assist the soldiers, their families and other members of the LDF and opposition parties living in exile in South Africa, hence the alliance’s decision to raise funds for the solicitors.
“These selfless lawyers need money to pay office rent, their employees and support their families. That is why we came up with this fundraising plan. We will start very early Sunday morning from Maqhekung in Khubetsoana, and walk past Lesotho Agricultural College, Setsoto Stadium, Thabong, Lakeside and back to Maqhekung.
“Ticket to take part in the walk will be M50 each and when we return to Maqhekung, there will be food and drinks on sale, which is also part of the fundraising initiative.
“After the walk, our leaders in exile will address us via teleconference,” said Mr Mofomobe.
BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, ABC leader and former prime minister Thomas Thabane and RCL leader Keketso Rantšo fled for South Africa in May this year after claiming some LDF members were planning to kill them.
Mr Mofomobe added the opposition did not only need money to support the lawyers but also for their colleagues when they travel outside the country seeking assistance from the international community.
“The opposition has been advocating for peace and stability in this country. But since government does not want to work with us in achieving this goal, we have representatives who interact with international bodies such as the Commonwealth, SADC and African Union for intervention. Those people need financial support to reach out to these organisations hence this fundraising initiative,” Mr Mofomobe said.
RCL Secretary General ‘Mamolula Ntabe echoed Mr Mofomobe’s sentiments on the need to make sure the lawyers’ businesses are not negatively affected because of their decision to help the detained soldiers and exiles.
“These five lawyers offered their expertise free of charge and abandoned their law firms to help. Basotho must understand that they worked long hours during the SADC Commission of Inquiry to assist exiled opposition members and soldiers.
“They still had clients to represent before the courts but they chose to be there for the soldiers and exiled opposition party members. We understand they lost out on business; that is why we will be raising some money to support their efforts,” Ms Ntabe said.