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Thabane vows to remain ‘in hiding’


thabaneBilly Ntaote

All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane, is “heartbroken” that he would miss today’s burial of prominent businessman, Thabiso Tšosane.

Mr Tšosane, a staunch member of the ABC, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Ha Tsolo on the night of 9 May, and would be buried today at his Thuathe Plateau homestead.

However, Dr Thabane would not be at the funeral as he is “in hiding” in South Africa. The former premier—who left office after his coalition comprising the ABC, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho failed to garner enough seats during the 28 February 2015 snap elections to remain in power—fled the country last Monday after receiving information of a plot to assassinate him.

The former premier first went to Botswana, but has since moved to South Africa, and yesterday vowed never to return to Lesotho until his safety is guaranteed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Dr Thabane told the Sunday Express he was having dinner at a local hotel with his wife, MaIsiah, on Monday, when he was tipped off about the assassination plot.

“I was enjoying a meal with my wife at the hotel (name withheld) when I was informed that I would be ambushed by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) on my way home.

“So instead of going home, we fled to South Africa, and proceeded to Botswana on Thursday after I had been joined by ‘Maseribane (BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane) on Wednesday.

“’Maseribane had also been informed that his life was in danger, hence his decision to leave the country,” Dr Thabane said.

The ABC leader claimed his decision, while he was defence minister and premier, to fire Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as LDF commander on 29 August 2014 for alleged insubordination, had created him enemies in the army.

“Our case with Chief ‘Maseribane is now a matter before SADC because we are political leaders who are being targeted by soldiers who are under the control of the government of Lesotho.

“My informants told me that the plan was to ambush me on my way home since I don’t have official government protection after my request to have police security, instead of the army, was turned down by the prime minister.

“I didn’t know what else to do, so instead of going home, we crossed into the Free State together with my wife, and eventually went to the SADC secretariat in Botswana. We were welcomed by the SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax, whom we fully briefed about our case,” Dr Thabane said.

Dr Thabane said before fleeing the country, he had asked his ABC bodyguards to investigate the assassination claims.

“They confirmed that indeed, there were some soldiers waiting for me at a place I can’t disclose at the moment so I had no choice but to flee the country,” said Dr Thabane, who also fled the country on 28 August 2014 claiming some LDF members were out to kill him and topple his government.

Dr Thabane yesterday expressed disappointment that the Lesotho government had not commented on his plight, and was now pinning his hopes on SADC to guarantee his safety.

“So this issue is now being dealt by SADC; I can’t return home without guarantee from SADC that I’ll be safe. I can defend myself as a person, but this is different because the people after my life are too powerful; they are the Lesotho Defence Force.

“When I was prime minister, I worked hard to transform the LDF and ensure it was under  civilian authority, but it is clear that with the re-instatement of Kamoli as LDF commander, I failed on this mission. So it is clear that he has a grudge against me personally for removing him as commander, and I am not safe anymore now that he has been reinstated. That’s why I am saying I need guarantee from SADC that the LDF will leave me alone, before I return to Lesotho,” said Dr Thabane.

Dr Thabane also said he suspected the plot on his life was “somehow connected to the shocking death of Tšosane”.

“I’m heartbroken that I can’t bury Tšosane. He was one of the few gentlemen who dedicated themselves to the ABC from its inception in 2006. He died under very suspicious circumstances and the disturbing thing is no-one has been arrested in connection with the murder. He used to be very outspoken and would criticise any government, including me, when he believed I was out of line.

“I formed the ABC with the assistance of brave men like Tšosane and we are still waiting for government to give us an explanation regarding his death,” said Dr Thabane.

He continued: “When I eventually return home, I will be fighting for democracy and not any individual. I don’t have personal vendettas but only want to see Lesotho being a democratic country.”

On his party, Chief ‘Maseribane told the Sunday Express that he also had no choice but to flee the country because his life was in danger.

“We decided to go to SADC because the bloc is responsible for resolving regional challenges ranging from social, political, economic and security.

“We were referred to the relevant SADC cluster. We tabled our issues before the Executive Secretary and even before the troika on politics, defence and security cooperation.

“We spoke about everything happening in Lesotho at the moment, from the abduction of soldiers by fellow soldiers and the torture of soldiers by their colleagues. We also spoke about the hit-list that we have learnt about, on which we hear there are a number of people ranging from soldiers, police, journalists, and so on. We also made it clear that we believe we are being hunted by the army while the government keeps quiet about it,” said Chief ‘Maseribane from his “hiding place” in South Africa.

Contacted for comment yesterday, police spokesperson Clifford Molefe said: “The police have not received any reports about an attempt to assassinate Ntate Thabane or Ntate ‘Maseribane.

“Each time one is threatened, they must report such threats to the police.”

Senior Inspector Molefe also confirmed no one had been arrested in connection with Mr  Tšosane’s death.

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