Following the assassination of Lesotho army commander Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has moved swiftly to deploy a fact-finding mission to get to the bottom of the killings that sent shockwaves to the nation on Tuesday.
Apart from Motšomotšo, Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has confirmed that the other two Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi have also died after they were shot in an incident that occurred between 9 and 10 am on Tuesday.
He said the investigations are in progress to find out exactly what happened in this “unfortunate, untimely and totally illegal deaths”.
Thabane said that his government has already reported to the SADC and that he is sure they will respond in their characteristic manner when a tragedy like this occurs in a member state.
Immediately after his briefing, the Minister of Public Service Thesele Maseribane who is also a partner in a quartet coalition revealed that the SADC had already responded, indicating the regional body would dispatch ministerial Double Troika in defence and security chiefs’ fact-finding mission to Lesotho.
SADC Double Troika comprises of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia.
“They will arrive in Lesotho from September 6 to 7 and will start convening meetings from September 8 and return to report to the regional body on September 10,” Maseribane said.
Meanwhile, Thabane assured the Basotho nation and development partners that the army is still under control of the civilian authority adding that the command structure that is remaining has given him an assurance that “they will keep control during this very troublesome period”.
“In control of the acting commander Major General Lineo Poopa, the army has shown its full allegiance to government and as Prime Minister and constitutional Minister of Defence, it is my responsibility to ensure that it happens.”
He said the army is working in concert with other security establishments in Lesotho, police and national intelligence, and are continuing to manage the situation.
“I have not yet got into the full story and quite clearly it is a very complicated issue because these are people who have trained, worked and have been gaining promotions together in the army. All I can express is a sense of shock,” said Thabane.
The Premier further said the situation of a military in Lesotho has been a problem for a while and still remains a major problem for the nation.
“The SADC is fully engaged in this matter, but I can assure the nation and everybody else that the situation is under control. These could be a setback to the very vigorous efforts that have been made to re-establish peace and stability in Lesotho,” said Thabane.
– MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism