Lesotho army officer gets relief in SADC inquiry

> Nteboheleng Mabitso

Maseru –The Lesotho High Court on Tuesday granted Lesotho Defence Force’s (LDF) Lieutenant Colonel Tefo Hashatsi an interim order not to re-appear before the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry until his application in the court has been finalised.

The SADC Commission of Inquiry was mandated by the SADC Heads of State and Government to investigate the death of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao among other issues.

The interim order was granted by Justice Ts’eliso Monaphathi.

Hashatsi was scheduled to re-appear before the SADC Commission of Inquiry on October 21.

On October 16 Hashatsi filed an application at the High Court of Lesotho against the Commission seeking the court’s intervention that the evidence he delivered when he first appeared before the SADC Commission of Inquiry last month be brought before the court for review and set aside as null and void.

Amongst his prayers, the applicant pleaded he should not be restrained and interdicted from being summoned to re-appear before the commission pending the finalization of his application.

According to the application, Hashatsi says he does not want to experience the same “harassment” he went through when testifying before the Commission of Inquiry last month.

Hashatsi asked the court to order the respondents, Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, the Chairman of the SADC Commission of Inquiry Justice

Phumaphi, the Commission of Inquiry and the Attorney General respectively to show cause if any, why the court cannot grand him the prayers he is seeking.

According to his notice of motion, Hashatsi among other issues wants the respondents to say why Paragraph 4 of the Legal Notice 75 of 2015 shall not be declared ultra vires the provisions of the Public Inquiries Act, section 8 in particular.

The paragraph says the Commission is appointed to look into the lawfulness of removal from office of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao through legal Notice 60 of 2015 as Commander of LDF and the simultaneous appointment through the same notice of Tlali Kamoli as LDF Commander.

Hashatsi also wants the respondents to show why the same paragraph shall not be declared null and void and have no legal force or effect and why Justice Phumaphi and the Commission shall not be declared to be bound by the provisions of the Public Inquiries Act 1 of 1994.

He further expects the respondents to show the reasons why the purported sitting and hearing of evidence by Justice Phumaphi and the Commission in the Republic South Africa shall not be declared ultra vires to Section 3 of the Public Inquiries Act and Legal notice 75 of 2015 and 88 of 2015 that defines the nature and extent of their mandate.

Hashatsi wanted respondents to say why proceedings by Justice Phumaphi and the Commission shall not be reviewed and set aside on account of the participation of Mr Antony Wally and all those persons who have not been appointed as commissioners and lead counsel. He argues that Mr Wally has not been appointed in the gazette as such. The notice also wants the respondents to show why Justice Phumaphi and the commission shall not dispatch the record of the proceedings of all evidence and facts relating to Hashatsi to the High Court and why the evidence and facts relating to Hashatsi shall not be expunged from the record or proceedings of the Commission.

Hashatsi concluded by asking Justice Phumaphi and the Commission to show reasons why they shall not be restrained and interdicted from making any findings in relation to him.

He also wants them to show why they cannot be restrained and interdicted from summoning him

before them pending the outcome of his application.

The Commission of Inquiry has been set up to investigate mainly the death of Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.

The Commission is also expected to investigate shootings and or bombings of the homes of Liabiloe Ramoholi, a partner of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Commissioner of Police Khothatso Ts’oaoana and the shooting incidence near the offices of SADC Facilitation Mission in Lesotho.

During the proceedings, Mahao’s widow ‘Mamphanya Mahao also filed a joint application before the High Court demanding to be included as a respondent, the reason being the commission is in Lesotho to investigate her husband’s death.

That was granted and Mamphanya Mahao becomes the fifth respondent.

The matter will be argued before the High Court on December 2 2015.

October 2015
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