Lesotho’s ambassador to Italy, Sempe Lejaha, was found dead at his home on Tuesday this week.
Foreign Affairs and International Relations minister, Tlohang Sekhamane, confirmed to the Lesotho Times last night that Chief Lejaha passed away at his residence in Rome, where he has been based since 2013.
The 72-year-old was among four diplomats recalled by government early this month and was expected to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Headquarters on 9 November.
Other envoys who were ordered to cut short their tour of duty for “redeployment” alongside Chief Lejaha, were Bothata Tsikoane (India), Felleng Makeka (United Kingdom), and Nkopane Monyane (Switzerland).
Lesotho’s High Commissioner to South Africa, ‘Malejaka Letooane, Johannesburg Consul-General, Mophethe Sekamane, Durban Consul-General Lerato Tšosane and High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr ‘Mabaphuthi Moorosi Molapo were also instructed to return home in the middle of their contracts through letters written by Minister Sekhamane on 6 August.
No reasons have been given for the mass recalls.
Speaking about Chief Lejaka’s untimely death , Minister Sekhamane said: “It is true that Ntate Lejaha has passed away. According to the report I received, he was found dead in one of his rooms at his Rome residence yesterday.
“Other than that, I don’t have any more information about his death; I understand a post-mortem has not even been conducted yet to establish the cause of death.
“That’s why it is still early for me to announce when Ntate Lejaha’s body will get here because there are processes that need to be followed between the governments of Italy and Lesotho before his remains are repatriated.
“However, what I can tell you is that the Government of Lesotho is going to take full responsibility for his funeral. Ntate Lejaha died in the line of duty and would, accordingly, be given a state funeral here in Lesotho.”
Chief Lejaha was born on 24 June 1943 in Phororong in the district of Berea. He belonged to the Matšekha chieftainship and was chief of Phororong and Majaheng villages in Berea.
Before he was posted to Italy in 2013, Chief Lejaha worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and Ministry of Finance.
Chief Lejaha also worked as District Administrator for Berea, Quthing and Butha-Buthe.
He was once Deputy President of the Senate and then President before he retired in January 2013.
Chief Lejaha is survived by his wife and three children.