Assassinated Lieutenant General Khoantle Motsomotso. Zimbabwe Herald

A brigadier and four other soldiers in Lesotho have been charged with attempted murder for the 2016 shooting of an editor whose newspaper was seen as critical of the military commander at the time, AP reports.

The five suspects are due in court next Wednesday after being charged last Friday for the attack on Lesotho Times editor, Lloyd Mutungamiri, whose jaw was shattered in the shooting and required reconstructive surgery.

Former military commander at the time of Mutungamiri’s shooting, Tlali Kamoli, has been charged with crimes which include the murder of a police official during the attempted coup in 2014.

Also on trial are eight suspects alleged to have been involved in the killing of Lesotho’s top army commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motsomotso in September. Their trial kicked off on Friday as they faced court in the capital Maseru.

While most of Southern Africa has been spared the military coups that have plagued the African continent post-colonialism, Lesotho has been the exception with several coups, and periods of extreme political unrest, since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.

Due to fears of growing instability in the landlocked southern African country the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional force deployed in Lesotho over the weekend.

SADC’s Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) was officially launched by the Representative of the Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Admiral Gasper Rufino on Saturday at the VODACOM Park Grounds in Maseru.

The 258-strong regional force SAPMIL comprises 269 personnel: 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers; and 12 civilian experts in different fields.

The force will be on the ground for an initial period of six months, subject to extension. It is drawn from Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho Honourable Monyane Moleleki and SADC's Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Jorge Cardoso, representing the regional body's executive secretary, attended the launch.

In delivering his remarks remarks Cardoso expressed his gratitude to the acting prime minister and the government of Lesotho for their commitment shown towards the implementation of SADC decisions that aim at assisting that country to return to stability.

- African News Agency (ANA)