Month: October 2015

Former Lesotho Prime Minister Mentioned in Ritual Murder

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Lesotho Defence Force Brigadier Ramanka Mokaloba, told the SADC commission of inquiry into the murder of the country’s Commander, that the former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane together with a business man Jessie Ramakatane (who died a week ago) were among a group of people who were involved in ritual murder.

Former Lesotho's Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane
Former Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane

Former Lesotho Prime Minister Mentioned in Ritual Murder

Mokaloba told that the commission that amputated human parts were used by some people who wanted to overthrow the government whom some of them, from the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and the Republic of Mozambique were tried, sentenced and serving their jail terms in the prison of Lesotho.

The Brigadier said this morning that he provided the commission with a detailed report in camera last week and today he appeared before the commission to address it in public.

Ritual murder association with politics in Lesotho was featured in the media in 2012 when on Lehlonohonolo Scott murdered a two boys. Scott has since mysteriously escaped from Lesotho prison and found in by police Durban in the Republic of South Africa where is waiting for extradition to Lesotho.

Meanwhile media reports in Lesotho are that the Prime Minister of Lesotho Pakalitha Mosisili found the commission to be out of order as it allows witnesses to address issues outside the set terms of reference.

The leader of Democratic Congress, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili
The Lesotho Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili

Mosisili was reported by Sunday Express over the weekend saying that he had written a letter to the chairperson on His Excellence Filipe Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique asking him to call the commission to order.

In another development regarding the commission this afternoon, the SADC’s legitimacy to hear evidence from exiled witnesses in RSA in the last week, arose argument between King’s Council Salemane Phafane and the Chairperson of the Commission Judge Phumaphi in this regard.

The Judge argues that the commission was correct to hear witnesses from exile as it was constituted in terms of SADC treaty which Lesotho is party to. On the other hand the King’s Council argued that much as the matter was not for debate today, it is not correct to refer to the commission as SADC’s since it was constituted under Public Inquiries Act of Lesotho.

“This is not a Lesotho Commission of Inquiry”, said Judge Phumaphi adding that;”This is SADC Commission of Inquiry constituted by SADC which has jurisdiction and legal standing in all SADC states in terms of SADC Treaty.” He said.

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Lesotho legal reforms initiative starts

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Hardly two weeks following the Lesotho’s Prime Minister address to the United Nations General Assembly that the country is to embark into constitutional reforms process to end political instability, a local non-governmental organisation, Development for Peace Education (DPE) is piloting legal reforms project at two constituencies of Taung and Mekaling in the Mohale’s hoek district.

Community Members at a Public Participation Session at Taung Constituency, seen here with Mookho Mphonyo one of administers of DPE questionnaire.
Community Members at a Public Participation Session at Taung Constituency, seen here with Mookho Mphonyo one of administers of DPE questionnaire.

Pushed by the conviction that; “Law and policies should be informed by community voices,” the DPE’s initiative began with a workshop on legal reform processes attended by local radio stations’ presenters of current and political programmes and their regular caller, as well as representative of political parties.

A public gathering on legal reforms at Taung Constituency, Mohale's Hoek
A public gathering on legal reforms at Taung Constituency, Mohale’s Hoek

According to the DPE’s Peace Education Researcher, ‘Mabataung Secker these are the people who should be the first to understand the process since they are active civic participants through the media with potential to influence general public participation in the reforms.

In the two selected pilot constituencies DPE has circulated a questionnaire with nine themes including security reforms, public service, powers of both the King and the Prime Minister.

The workshop was followed by a public gathering addressed by the Deputy Minister of Home affairs Hon. Phallang Monare.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Thulo Monare, addressing DPE's organised public gathering on legal reforms
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Phallang Monare, addressing DPE’s organised public gathering on legal reforms

In the meantime from the government quarters, legal reforms are top on the agenda with the name of the former President of the Appeal Court of Lesotho, Hon. Mathealira Ramolibeli featured as a chairperson of a fifteen member commission to execute the process.

Two Lesotho NGOs Stance on Mutiny Case

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TRC LOGOJOINT PRESS STATEMENTccjp logo

TRANSFORMATION RESOURCE CENTRE (TRC) AND CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE (CCJP)

TRC-CCJP’s stance and contribution on latest developments in Lesotho

Introduction

On 5 October 5 2015, the High Court of Lesotho ordered that the close arrest of 23 soldiers charged with a mutiny plot by the Lesotho Defence Force is unlawful and set it aside. The effect of this is a legal compulsion for their immediate release.

The Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace (CCJP) have teamed up to address the apparent human rights violations connected to this case, and solicit support from other organisations in Lesotho and South Africa.

In response to the violations perpetrated by the Lesotho Defence Force, TRC and CCJP mobilised a team of lawyers to lead the legal challenges to LDF behaviour towards these detained soldiers; and also mobilised assistance for the families of the detained, exiled and slain soldiers who are also facing human rights violations.

The High Court Case

The legal case that the team initiated was Mareka and 22 Others v the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force and Others.

In this case, the 23 detainees sought

  1. a review from the High Court to set aside the decision to convene Court Martial
  2. facilitation of their participation in the SADC-initiated Commission of Inquiry, which has been established to investigate the mutiny plot allegations and the killing of the former LDF commander Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao
  3. their release from detention.

The Verdict and its Importance

The High Court verdict ordered that LDF must release the soldiers on “open arrest”, a form of military bail.

The Court did not, however, grant other relief sought by the applicants including postponing or setting aside the court martial process until the conclusion of the Commission’s proceedings.

The effect of this judgment is that all those 23 soldiers are considered to be in custody and their movements are restricted, but they are allowed to go about their normal business.

This “open arrest” brings immense relief to their families and ensures that they will be protected from the severe torture and abuse that a number of these soldiers have alleged to have suffered in detention. This will also ensure that these men reunite with their loved ones which is a God given right.

It also means these soldiers will be able to cooperate freely with the SADC Commission in determining the mutiny plot allegations and Mahao’s death

TRC-CCJP and partners perceive this judgment as an accomplishment of justice and have valid reason to celebrate.

We must express that we are immensely shocked that despite the court order setting aside close detention of the soldiers on Monday, October 5th, 2015, the soldiers are still in detention and they still attend Court Martial with their feet shackled. This is an inhumane treatment of human persons.

What is Next?

The next stage is that of the SADC Commission of Inquiry. TRC-CCJP mandated the legal team to attend the proceedings of the Commission on daily basis to represent the interests of the detained soldiers and to assist the Commission in finding the truth in its inquiry. The legal team composed of five local lawyers works determinedly at the Commission up to date.

The third stage is that of the Court Martial. Upon foreseeing the possibility of convening of the court, TRC-CCJP and the local team had to strategise on how detainees will be represented in the court and find means of challenging the convening of the same court. The Court Martial, despite the pending judgment in the High Court and the principle of sub judicae, was established on Monday. TRC-CCJP and partners will nevertheless give unwavering support for the accused soldiers and their families.

We therefore invite all Basotho to give this initiative the necessary support to fight against human rights violations and to create an atmosphere fit for human safety and security.

We further appeal to Basotho to participate in assisting the families of the exiled and slain soldiers which can no longer have access to the salaries of their husbands.

How you can help

Financial contributions (to cover the costs of legal suit and other needs of families) can be sent to the following:

  • Standard Lesotho Bank: Account 01400 977 15207 – Account name: Justice and Peace
  • Eocach/Sepache-fono: Transformation Resource Centre (Merchant Code 08504)
  • Vodacom Mpesa: Transformation resource Centre (Merchant mobile number 5098 5069)

Issued and signed in Maseru on 7th October, 2015

For CCJP Booi Mohapi (Secretary-General) 2232 4263

6212 1212

For TRC Tšoeu Petlane (Director) 2231 4463

Lesotho Action for Peace and Solidarity for Murdered Army Commander

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APS

Public Statement of Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS) on the Occasion of the First Annual Peace Walk in Celebration of the Life of Comrade Maaparankoe Mahao,

24 October 2015.

The month of June 2015 saw the tragic, brutal and heartless murder of our brother and comrade Lt—Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao by Lesotho Defence Force operatives; which brought Africa and the world standing in united outpour of grief, indignation and rage at this heinous and cowardly elimination of a man who stood for truth, honour and dignity of humanity. The tragedy reawakened the forces of peace, democracy and human rights to the need for continued vigilance and intensification of the struggle against the palpable resurgence of the compact of depravity, inhumanity, and moral degeneration sill marauding in our communities; and inspired the formation of Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS).

The main thrust of organisation’s given mandate is to strive for respect and protection of human rights, upholding of the rule of law; where peace and tranquility reign for all, and citizens freely participate in matters affecting their livelihood, towards a sustainable development of Lesotho. Among a multiplicity of regular activities in advancement of the mission of the organization, and upholding its core values of preserving the sanctity of human life, integrity in public affairs, supporting and defending the weak and marginalized; the APS is committed to preserving and promoting the memory and legacy of Comrade Maaparankoe Mahao through among others annual lectures on themes of the causes to which he committed his life (peaceful co-existence, solidarity, honesty and integrity in public life, diligence and enterprise, selfless leadership, respect for fruits of people’s sweat, etc.), establishment of Maaparankoe Mahao Foundation, erection of a memorial and enshrinement of the place of his tragic passing, and an annual Maaparankoe Mahao Peace Walk which is being launched today. This year’s inaugural walk is scheduled for Saturday October 24, 2015 and will commence at his family homestead at Koalabata in Maseru at 6am, and end at his birthplace of Mokema, at the spot he was brutally killed. Phuthiatsna Bridge will be an alternative starting point for those preferring a shorter route (15 km). At the end-point there will be short solidarity, freedom, and peace speeches; and merrymaking activities pitting the host community and the walkers.

We take this opportunity to salute the formation of the SADC Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances leading to Lt. General Maaapankoe Mahao’s murder. We also deep our flag in grave gratitude to all those who have till now come forward and with open bosoms to help the Commission with information that might shine the light into the dark corners of secrecy, gangster culture, and fabrication of falsehoods even against individuals and families of the victims, thus adding insult to injury. We salute the gallant and often self-sacrificing efforts of individual journalists and media houses that have tirelessly kept the lamp of enlighten light burning and rolled back the frontiers of falsification, intimidation, sycophancy, and cowardice in these trying time.

As APS we sternly beseech the Government to change its course and produce the perpetrators of the heinous acts, whose insurance by the State is an affront to the dignity and integrity of Lesotho as a State and Basotho as a nation. The whole nation is watching with hope that this Commission will, unlike the past similar commissions, yield peace and stability for Basotho.

Reasons for Peace Walk

  • Provide a social informal platform for ordinary citizens to express themselves, share ideas, worries and concerns about peace in Lesotho;
  • Pray for Peace in Lesotho, and among Basotho;
  • Provide an unstructured people’s peace dialogue and exchange;
  • Encourage Basotho to reconnect and talk about future of Lesotho beyond party lines;

God Save Lesotho, God Save Basotho.

Khotso, Pula, Nala.

Statement Issued by Action For Peace and Solidary (APS) in Maseru, Lesotho on 7th October 2015

******************* WE SHALL OVERCOME!!!! *****************

Former Lesotho Prime Minister testifies in exile

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Former Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane testified this morning before the SADC Commission of inquiry into the death of the Lesotho Defence Force commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Former Lesotho's Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane
Former Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane

Thabane who testified in camera in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), was the last witnesses following the Basotho National Party leader, Chief Thesele Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Mrs Keketso Rants’o, together with some LDF soldiers and civilians who are all in exile in the neighbouring country fearing for their lives in Lesotho.

After making his testimony in camera, Thabane was afforded a chance to make a public address to the commission and he warned that if Lesotho was to progress the role of the army has to be taken serious as there was a instability even when the commission was still going on with the inquiries.

“I am very, very confident that after this, the people of Lesotho will sit down and think of why they elected people as their leaders including myself.” He said adding that he was confident that the result of the commission will resonate with Lesotho itself.

Thabane further said if when they are elected leaders they forget that there is a lot of challenges including HIV/AIDS devastation, poverty, old age and orphans, with families left with no bread winners while some people insisting to be in leadership by force, the country still has a long way to go.

He said the people of Lesotho have sit to down and think of their country as a producer of water for a biggest economy in Southern Africa. “We supply water to a big industry in Johannesburg, and yet people sleep hungry in Lesotho. Distribution of wealth there is wrong. Some people are eating more than their share.” Said Thabane whose address marked the end of the commission hearing in South Africa.

The commission will resume in Maseru, Lesotho tomorrow.

Late Lesotho Defence Force Commander Peace Walk

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A local organisation, Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS), is organising a walk in memory of the late Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao who was shot by the army on 25th June, 2015.

The event entitled Maaparakoe Mahao Peace Walk, will be disclosed to the nation at a press conference in Maseru tomorrow at 12:30 midday.

A hip of stones at the place where Mahao was killed.
A hip of stones at the place where Mahao was killed.

APS is newly formed movement established by people who, together with Mahao, were members of Lesotho of Lesotho Youth Federation (LYFE) and Committee for Action and Solidarity for Southern African Students (CASSAS).

Meanwhile SADC commission of inquiry on the death of Maaparankoe Mahao is still going on.

Lesotho Prime Minister tells UN that constitutional reforms and SDGs implementation are a priority for the country.

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Addressing the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, the Prime Minister of Lesotho Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili said that with the support of Common Wealth, the country is in agreement with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) that constitutional reforms is the first step towards the road to political stability.

The leader of Democratic Congress, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili
The leader of Lesotho Coalition Government

“Lesotho has passed through many political challenges since the return to democratic rule in 1993, which placed us on the agenda on SADC for far too long.” He said adding that Most of challenges that Lesotho has been facing have tested the resilience and relevance of the country’s constitution.

Mosisili whose country is currently commissioning SADC to inquire into, among others, circumstances that led to the killing of Lesotho Defence Force Commander Maaparankoe Mahao, appealed to UN to offer support and necessary guidance in the constitutional reform process whenever the need arise;

“so that Lesotho dignity can be restored and for peace and stability to ruin.” He said.

With regard to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by UN last week, Mosisili, said Lesotho draw courage and confidence over the fact that most them resonate so well with the objectives of the new coalition government which he leads.

“A very ambitious commitment the leadership of the coalition government has made is to ensure that Lesotho emerges from the group of least developed states by twenty fifteen and a practical road map under the SDGs compliments programmes already in place in Lesotho.” Said Mosisili.

Mosisili also expressed gratitude to the African Union for putting faith in Lesotho by nominating His Majesty King Letsie III as the champion for nutrition.

He said the move will intensify efforts that his country is already making with regard to nutrition in Lesotho.

He further told the UN general assembly that Lesotho has recently launched an innovative energy policy which will ensure a substantial energy increase of renewable energy production leading to an increase in affordable energy provision to fifty per cent by the end of this current term of parliament.

“These are just a few examples of development programmes that Lesotho is committed to implement in the next ten year which are in line with the SDGs just adopted.” He told the UN.