LDF Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli apologises for the fatal shooting of Lisebo Tang near his residence last month
THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Tlali Kamoli yesterday expressed regret over the death of 20-year-old Lisebo Tang, who was reportedly shot dead last month by soldiers guarding his Ha Leqele residence.
Lieutenant General Kamoli told scores of mourners who attended Tang’s funeral at the family’s Ha Leqele home that the LDF members had not intended to kill Lisebo as they did not even know who was in the vehicle when they peppered it with bullets.
Tang died on the scene of shooting, which took place in the early hours of 10 May, while her friend, Tšepo Jane, 36, was injured and taken to the Makoanyane Military Hospital. Police reports suggest the vehicle was shot123 times.
But the LDF said the killing of Lisebo, who leaves behind a two-year-old child, was not intentional.
“The shooting was not meant to kill Lisebo, but stop the suspicious movement that had been seen by the officers who were on duty that night.
“I apologise for this loss; the soldiers had no ill-intention whatsoever as they did not even know who was in the car.
“There might be so many casualties in the process of duty, and also considering that the incident took place between midnight and one o’clock in the morning. And like I have said, there was no intention to kill her at all.”
Commander Kamoli also sought to “clear the air” regarding allegations that the soldiers shot at the vehicle after suspecting its passengers were police officers. Relations between the LDF and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) have been strained since the army refused, two months ago, to cooperate with police investigations into the simultaneous bombings of three Maseru homes on 27 January this year.
“I am the Commander of the LDF, as far as I know, and we do not have any reason to attack the police. Why should we shoot the police? The LDF and LMPS are security agencies established legitimately not to fight each other but to protect the lives of Basotho,” he said.
Lt Gen Kamoli also explained why the LDF was building a house, which is now almost complete, for the Tang family.
“The fact that the LDF is building a house for this family is not to buy their silence or make them forget the loss of their child, but to give a helping hand on the plan the family already had in place. It is also an act of apology for the pain the LDF brought to the Tang family.
“But it must be made clear the LDF did not buy the building material as has been speculated since the construction started. The building material was already there; the LDF only supported and implemented what was already in place.”
The LDF boss further indicated he was aware of the “speculation” that the LDF used government funds to help the family.
“I have heard that there are people who have asked around about the money that we used to help in building the house. We did not use government money to help here, we used army resources.”
Lt Gen Kamoli further said he was confident ties between the Tang family and army would continue to be strong as the family had allowed the LDF to show their remorse over the fatal mistake they committed.
He also said Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who is also the Minister of Defence, Police and National Security, knew about the LDF’s act of apology.
“The prime minister came to pass his condolences to the Tang family following the shooting and he also approved our act of apology,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commander Kamoli attacked the media for sensationalising the shooting incident.
“The way some media houses handled the incident was not acceptable as they spread propaganda to sell their stories.
“There was an incident where a female presenter on one local radio station ululated and made a speculative programme about the death and shooting of Lisebo.
“Women are valued because they are our mothers and our wives; they should always respect themselves and avoid making fun about controversial and sensitive issues such as the death of other people,” he said.
“That female presenter is so influential that she has a large following of women; she is not even married but our wives follow her. To all women, I say try to choose your friends wisely and also whom to follow.
“The same female presenter once asked me why I was not staying in a government house in Maseru West. I told her I had built my own house, so why should I stay in a government house? That woman doesn’t even have a house of her own, and like I said, she is not even married.”
Speaking on behalf of the bereaved, Moeketsi Matete said the Tang family had accepted the loss and advised the rest of the
people attending the funeral to also do the same.
“We appreciate how the LDF approached the family and every support they have shown us.
“We are convinced that Lisebo’s death was an accident and that it was her time to pass this world. If it was not God’s intention, she would still be here with us,” said Mr Matete.
He urged the media “and all those people who spread propaganda about Tang’s death to apologise”.
“It was not the army’s intention to shoot her to death; it was simply an accident”.