Maseru – Mamphanya Mahao, the wife of slain former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao—says she will “never rest” until she knows “the truth” behind her husband’s killing.
Lieutenant-General Mahao was gunned down in June last year in Mokema during an army operation to arrest soldiers alleged to be part of a plot to topple the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) command.
He had been fingered as the ringleader of the alleged mutiny, with the military later announcing Lt-Gen Mahao was shot while resisting arrest.
Soon after the killing, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili asked SADC to help establish the circumstances surrounding the shooting, resulting in Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi’s Commission of Inquiry, which completed its probe on 23 October 2015.
After pressure from the regional body to accept and publicise Justice Phumaphi’s findings, which it had refused to do citing a court case challenging the Phumaphi inquiry’s legitimacy, the Lesotho government finally received the report during a SADC Double Troika summit in Botswana this week.
The summit, which had been convened to discuss the Phumaphi stalemate, ordered the Lesotho government to publicise the report by 1 February 2016, with Ms Mahao yesterday expressing hope that she would finally know what happened to her husband on that fateful afternoon of 25 June 2015.
Ms Mahao said she went to the summit to submit a letter from her family requesting SADC to release the Phumaphi report.
“I went to Botswana to submit a letter from the Mahao family requesting SADC to release the Commission of Inquiry’s report into the death of my husband,” Ms Mahao said.
“I am satisfied with the outcome of the visit because SADC accepted the letter from the family and held some discussions with me through the office of the Executive Secretary.”
Asked if SADC gave her a copy of the Phumaphi report, Ms Mahao said: “No, I was not given the report. I was asked to be patient while the government of Lesotho is given the chance to comply with the directive to publish the report within 14 days. I will respect SADC procedures and be patient for the report to be released accordingly.
“SADC is aware that the Mahao family is a stakeholder in all this but for the sake of peace, we must wait for their procedures and processes. We must wait for 14 days for government to make the report public and also when the family is formally presented with the report.”
Ms Mahao also said she did not want to interfere in government issues regarding the release of the report “because these people are unpredictable”.
She continued: “What I need is nothing but the truth of why and who killed my husband. It does not matter whether government edits the SADC report or not because I am determined to get to the bottom of this. I will never rest until I get to know the truth of what happened to my husband.”