A SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) Security Technical Assessment Mission, made of regional security experts, is set to arrive in the country today.
This comes against the background of the fatal shooting of army commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo, on 5 September this year.
Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot and killed at his Ratjomose Barracks office allegedly by his subordinates – Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.
Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were subsequently shot dead by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards.
In the wake of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s assassination, SADC convened an urgent summit in Pretoria, South Africa on 15 September to map the way forward.
The summit approved Lesotho’s request for a stand-by force consisting of military, security, intelligence and civilian experts to assist the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in managing the security crisis in the country.
The summit further directed regional defence chiefs to convene a technical assessment mission (TAM) to Lesotho ahead of the deployment of the regional stand-by force.
SADC’s Acting Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Brigadier Michael Mukokomani, subsequently wrote to the government of Lesotho, informing it that the Technical Assessment Mission would arrive in Lesotho on 24 September and remain in the country until 28 September.
Part of the letter dated 20 September and copied to acting LDF commander, Major General Lineo Poopa, states that: “The Double Troika Chiefs and Defence Security Technical Assessment Mission to Lesotho will arrive in Lesotho on 24 September and stay until 28 September and this is pursuant to the decisions of Double Troika Summit held in Pretoria, South Africa where the summit directed the chiefs of defence and security to conduct a technical assessment mission to Lesotho by 22 September 2017”.
Brigadier Mukokomani said the mission’s duties included assessing requirements, determining the appropriate size of the contingent force and preparing the modalities for the deployment which should be done by 1 November 2017.
“The SADC secretariat requests the government of Lesotho to provide critical support to ensure the successful conduct of the technical assessment mission,” Brigadier Mukokomani said.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s Press Attaché, Thabo Thakalekoala, on Friday confirmed the developments, telling the Sunday Express that “it is true the mission will arrive in Lesotho on Sunday in preparation for the deployment of a stand-by force to Lesotho”.
On the morning of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s assassination, he had ordered three junior army officers implicated in the fatal shooting of Lisebo Tang to report themselves to the police- a decision that allegedly angered Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi.
The officers stand accused of murdering Ms Tang and face another charge of the attempted murder of Tsepo Jane who was with her in the car near former army commander, Lt-Gen Tlali Kamoli’s residence in Ha Leqele, Maseru.
The army, working together with the police, have since opened investigations into Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s assassination and more army officers have been arrested.
Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were fingered by the 2015 SADC Commission of Inquiry in the assassination of former army commander, Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao, in June 2015.
The commission recommended that all soldiers suspected to have committed serious crimes – including the killing of Lt-Gen Mahao –be suspended from the army and prosecuted in line with international best practices.