Peace walk to honour Mahao

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Motsamai Mokotjo

CIVIC organisation, Action for Peace and Solidarity (APS), will on Saturday hold its inaugural Maaparankoe Mahao Peace Walk from Koalabata to Mokema.

According to APS member, Mochekoane Mohlepere, the walk was meant to celebrate the ideals Lieutenant-General Mahao stood for.

The slain former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander was shot dead as he left his Mokema farm on 25 June 2015 by soldiers who had come to arrest him following accusations of being part of a group of soldiers plotting to overthrow the army leadership. However, Lt Gen Mahao’s family has accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

Mr Mohlepere said Lt Gen Mahao’s “brutal and heartless murder” inspired the formation of APS which has a mandate to lobby for the respect and protection of human rights as well as the upholding of the rule of law among others. He said they were guided by the ideals Lt Gen Mahao stood for “such as truth, honour and the dignity of humanity”.

“APS is committed to preserving and promoting the memory and legacy of Comrade Maaparankoe through, among others, annual lectures on the causes he committed his life to such as peaceful co-existence, solidarity, honesty and integrity in public life, diligence and enterprise as well as selfless leadership,” he said.

Plans were also afoot, Mr Mohlepere said, to form the Maaparankoe Mahao Foundation and erect a memorial shrine at the place of his tragic passing.

“We came up with the idea of forming a foundation and, coincidentally, his family had the same intention. This was after we were allowed to coordinate his memorial service,” he said.

Mr Mohlepere said the 30 km Maaparankoe Mahao Peace Walk would start at 6am in Koalabata where he resided and end in Mokema where he was born and gunned down by his LDF colleagues.

There was also an alternative starting point for those preferring the shorter route of 15 km which would start at Phuthiatsana Bridge.

“After the walk, we will plant 47 trees, since that was Lt Gen Mahao’s age when he died, and raise funds towards the establishment of the foundation. We will also hold discussions on Cde Mahao’s ideals and pray for peace in Lesotho,” Mr Mohlepere said.

“The invitation to participate in the walk goes to every Mosotho irrespective of political affiliation. Those who knew Lt Gen Mahao know that he did not discriminate against anyone.”

Contacted for comment, the late army chief’s sister, Ntšepase Mahao, said the walk from Koalabata to Mokema was apt because it was a route Lt Gen Mahao would regularly take on foot. She said her brother’s ideals would live on in the young people who are eager to take country forward.

“Maaparankoe wanted the youth to be independent and engage in peace-building activities, empowerment programmes and poverty alleviation,” she said, adding, that the organisers of the walk had the Mahao family’s blessings and they were working together.

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