Namibian investigation specialists are on standby to be dispatched to Lesotho as part of a SADC team to investigate the death of that country’s former army commander, Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao.
This was confirmed by Namibian Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, who indicated that South Africa and Zimbabwe also have investigators ready to join the team.
Mahao was shot dead by government soldiers in his home last week, in a killing that has been condemned by the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU).
According to Lesotho media it is alleged that the assassination was ordered by Mahao’s successor, Tlali Kamoli, as part of a series of hits.
However, that country’s government said Mahao was shot during an attempt to arrest him in connection with an alleged mutiny.
His family has pinned their hopes on international investigators to reveal the truth behind Mahao’s death.
Fears have been expressed that the killing could plunge Lesotho into a civil uprising.
“We are waiting on an official request, but we are ready to send the best and most knowledgeable investigators to join those from Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Ndeitunga.
Asked specifically whether the investigating team would probe Mahao’s death, Ndeitunga responded: “When we have the request in our hands we will know exactly what we will be investigating.
“Of course you would want to first investigate the death of a person and find out what happened and get those who did to explain what happened, and then from that point you can investigate other things.”
International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday told Namibian Sun that South African President Jacob Zuma as SADC Organ Troika chairperson has called a special summit of the organ today.
This, according to Nandi-Ndaitwah, followed a fact-finding mission to Lesotho which reported back to Zuma on Wednesday.
“The mission was to assess the situation in Lesotho and not only the death [of Mahao] and to report back to the chairperson. The chairperson has now called that special summit to decide what to do next,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has urged the Lesotho government to bring the perpetrators to book while AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the AU strongly condemned the act.
Mahao’s family has accused the Lesotho government of being reluctant to investigate his murder.
Mahao’s brother, Nqaso Mahao, was quoted as saying his brother’s killing was proof that the security of Lesotho citizens was constantly under threat and they feared for their lives.
Last year, while on suspension from the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Mahao survived an assassination attempt when his home was attacked by armed soldiers.
The international press wrote that Mahao, an ally of Lesotho’s former leader Thomas Thabane, is a bitter rival of successor Tlali Kamoli.
It was Thabane’s decision in August last year to sack Kamoli and replace him with Mahao that led to an attempted coup, forcing Thabane to flee to South Africa.
However, Thabane then lost a tight election in March to current Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who promptly reinstated Kamoli as leader of the armed forces.
WINDHOEK ELVIS MURARANGANDA