MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on Friday said he was concerned with the slow process to extradite suspects accused of taking part in last year’s attacks at State House and Makoanyane barracks.
Mosisili was speaking in parliament in response to a question by the deputy leader of the Lesotho Workers Party, Sello Maphalla, who wanted to know if relations between Lesotho and South Africa were not affected after the insurgents entered the Kingdom from South Africa.
Mosisili assured the MP that relations between the two countries were still intact but decried the slow process in extraditing the suspects from South Africa.
“The only serious problem we have is that the process of extradition in South Africa takes too long,” he said.
“The extradition treaty between Lesotho and South Africa is very important but we face a problem when criminals who have crossed into South Africa are supposed to be extradited so that they can face justice at home.”
Mosisili spoke as he presented a report on the findings of a commission of inquiry set up to probe the April 22 attacks.
The commission was headed by former Lesotho Court of Appeal president, Jan Steyn.
Mosisili said the Steyn Commission had found that the insurgents were led by the late Makotoko Lerotholi, a former Lesotho Defence Force officer.
He said the commission had also found that the insurgents had been sponsored by a local businessman, Jessie Ramakatane, who fled the country after the 2007 post-election disturbances.
Ramakatane and Lerotholi were accused of spearheading the June 2007 attacks at the homes of government ministers that led the government to declare a curfew.
Ramakatane, Lerotholi and seven other suspects fled to South Africa but the government of Lesotho failed to have them extradited home.
Three of the fugitives came back home voluntarily last year.
Mosisili said the fact that the April 22 attackers entered Lesotho from South Africa was enough to make the two countries strengthen their border security.
Mosisili said he had already held a meeting with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma to discuss ways to tighten border security and the issue of extradition.
He said the two countries had agreed to raise the level of security along the border.
Mosisili said South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was expected in Lesotho last week to discuss border security issues but she had to postpone her visit due to other commitments.
It was not clear when Dlamini-Zuma would visit Lesotho to discuss the matter.
Mosisili added that Chapter Three of the Steyn report had been expunged because of the sensitive security issues raised in that section of the report.
“I want to emphasise that this inquiry was not an ordinary one in that certain parts had to be held in camera for the sake of national security,” he said.
“Honourable members will realise therefore that some parts do not appear in this report.
“The parts that have been deleted are mainly those that have names of members of the police and the army who fought against the insurgents.
“It was found befitting to protect the identities of those police officers and soldiers.”
Mosisili said he took great comfort in Steyn’s remarks regarding the professionalism of Lesotho’s defence forces despite some small weaknesses that can be rectified through training.
“I was very much pleased by the way the commission explained how the Lesotho Defence Force is professional,” he said.
The Steyn Commission report said although some soldiers had aided the insurgents to enter the Makoanyane barracks there was no evidence that the attacks were organised by the army.