To Ntate Kamoli (I cannot address you as dear)
APART from your credentials as a soldier, I am not sure whether you command any other significant academic achievements. The other time, I was sitting in a bar and eavesdropped a discussion about you.
It was suggested that you attempted a degree in science but pulled out only two hours after enrolment after the going got tough. In other words, school was not your cup of tea which is why you allegedly loath recruiting educated graduates into the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
I don’t know whether this is fact, malice or a just a joke in bad taste. Another man suggested in the same conversation that there was no way you could even have entered university as you never matriculated to earn the right of entry in the first place. Another suggested that you were very good at using the sling-shot against teachers and as a result failed to even graduate from primary school.
It seems there is a lot of speculation about your academic pedigree which can only be cleared if you willingly publish your resume. I am therefore not sure whether you are well, partially or not educated at all – though your conduct suggests the later.
I am also not sure whether reading – either academic or general interest books or journals forms part of your passions. It doesn’t look like it though. Or whether all your spare time is spent on what seems to be your most favourite passion – plotting how best to crush your enemies (real or perceived).
Whatever the case, it’s never too late to do the right thing. No one is ever too old to start reading. I especially urge you to take an interest in various general history literature.
If you spend a few hours in the library each day, you may ultimately stumble upon a man who goes by the soubriquet Edmund Burke and his perennial prophecy and wisdom that “all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to sit and do nothing”.
You will discover other literature from many ancient philosophers like Voltaire, Socrates, Aristotle and many others whose writings enhance Burke’s dictum.
Through extensive reading you may end up with a better appreciation of how men and women who thought they could consolidate power through the use of brute force and terror have ultimately always failed.
If brute force, violence, torture and murder were effective instruments of consolidating and retaining power, evil men of history like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Jean Bertrand Bokassa and many others could never have met their ignominious endings.
There is one significant lesson to learn from all the unhappy endings of these “leaders” or rather despots and the military men who did their bidding; their actions eventually caught up with them for evil always begets evil.
You may be wondering what I am up to, or why I am giving this seemingly long-winded introduction. I am a widely read Mosotho and have studied the stories of both good and bad historical characters. I feel compelled to share my experiences with you. Let me now get straight to the point.
As a female Mosotho, I am deeply hurt by the course on which you have put the LDF. An institution that is supposed to protect has become a tormentor. I feel compelled to remind (if not educate) you that you have put the LDF on a dishonourable course.
History is littered with men who have done to their armies what you are currently doing to the LDF. None of them eventually got away with it (murder). They all eventually met their comeuppance.
As a Christian woman, I can also confidently state that even when an evil man escapes human justice, there is no way they can evade the Almighty’s justice, ie the ultimate justice.
The other day I sat in court watching groups of soldiers limping into court exemplifying all signs of severe assault and torture. One of them ended up bleeding profusely. I could not help but ask myself: Why should any Mosotho inflict such inhumane treatment and pain on another Mosotho? What have all these men done to deserve such treatment?
If there was any substance to allegations that they plotted a mutiny, why hasn’t such evidence been put in the public domain? Even if they did engage in such a plot, why not subject them to proper justice through proper courts martial or civilian prosecution? Isn’t that what civilised societies are all about?
If I was disappointed and chagrined by the obvious torture of these soldiers, you can then imagine how I felt at the cold blooded murder of Maaparankoe Mahao.
Ntate, I am going to be brutally honest with you. As indicated above, for all evil to triumph good people must sit and do nothing. I am not one to sit idle while injustices are perpetrated.
From the shooting of that hapless woman near your home to the loss of life during your 30 August 2014 pranks, the fact Ntate is that your hands are now dripping with the blood of innocent Basotho.
I will nonetheless stick my head above the parapet and say I would never want you to die the way Mahao died. I would never wish Mahao’s death on any Mosotho or any other individual from any planet for that matter; not even my worst enemy?
Why should any man or woman be subjected to such a brutal death? What purpose or aim is achieved by such a horrendous deed?
If I may ask you again Ntate, how do you sleep at night after men under your command perform such deeds? Do you actually go home, have dinner, sleep with your wife or girlfriend and feel good about yourself? If you do Ntate, then you have lost all humanity? You no longer have empathy for human life.
The international outcry that has greeted Mahao’s killing should surely not surprise you. From the United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, thousands of miles away in New York, from Barack Obama, thousands of miles away in Washington, to our own normally lethargic Nkosazana-Zuma and Jacob Zuma, among other outraged, it surely will be the height of follyif you failed to appreciate the world’s monumental indignation and immediately changed course.
There is talk of a hit list against other targets. Will you or your men proceed to execute it despite all this outrage? And then probably claim that all the culprits got shot while resisting arrest. Or you will conjure up some other disingenuous classic.
Did you and your men surely think you could take-out Mahao and simply get away with the clumsy explanation that he was killed for resisting arrest? Has power gotten to your head to think you can take all of us for granted to such duplicitous levels?
Not even a naive caveman, who has never worn a pair of shoes, not even anyone with a pea-sized brain will buy all the crap being put forward to explain Mahao’s demise. Let’s be frank. The intention here was to merely eliminate an opponent, (or rather a perceived opponent).
The tragedy of course is that Mahao was never a threat. This is a man who was down and out. You never gave him a chance to set foot in any of the barracks after his lawful appointment by a sitting prime minister.
When your current principals won the right to form government, they did not hesitate to bring you back and dismiss him in a humiliating fashion.
Instead of just dismissing him from the day they took over, they sought to backdate his dismissal to show contempt for him. They never recognised him as army commander. Was that all necessary? Why trash a man like that?
But after all the humiliation was heaped on him, Mahao did not trot around gun in hand to target his tormentors. He sought legal redress through the courts. Surely that cannot be the actions of a mutiny plotter. So why eliminate such a man? Why commit such a despicable atrocity? In any event where is the evidence of the mutiny?
Those in government speaking publicly are adamant that there is no crisis in the country; security or otherwise. So if there is no crisis, why are hordes of soldiers being arrested and tortured? Why are people being killed? If a mutiny is not a crisis, if Lesotho is not facing a crisis, then why all the arrests and imprisonments.
Do statements that there is no crisis in themselves discredit the mutiny claims as fabrications? Surely a mutiny no matter how low-arching ought to constitute a crisis. How can a mutiny not amount to a crisis?
If there is no crisis, does it not directly confirm that Mahao was murdered to settle political scores or for revenge purposes. How can statements that there is no crisis be reconciled to LDF claims that Mahao was killed in the midst of a special operation to combat a mutiny?
No Mosotho in his right mind would condone this kind of behaviour. No Mosotho in his right sense should take pleasure in Mahao’s killing.
In fact the question everyone should all ask themselves is; what if it was me (meaning you)? Would anyone want to die like this?
Would you Ntate Kamoli want to die like that? Your answer must surely be no? So why the reckless disregard of life. What about the kids now left fatherless and hapless?
They will now have to grow without fatherly love and affection simply because human life is treated as cheap as wood? Is it not worth thinking about the harm these heinous acts cause to may innocents? Would you want your own kids to suffer the same fate Ntate?
Granted, you have to hate Ntate Thabane for having attempted to fire you? But does such hatred have to scale heinous extents?
I hold no brief for Thabane. Like any individual he had his many weaknesses which earned him a fair share of criticism in this column. But to his credit, he did not go down gunning down people he disagreed with.
He simply fired them and some resorted to the courts. Some were vindicated. Others were not. That’s how a democracy works. Guns and rifles have no place in dispute resolution in any democracy? The courts have. But you Ntate seem to have elevated yourself above the law.
You seem to have cast yourself as a law unto yourself. When High Court judge, Justice Semapo Peete, summoned you to explain what had happened to Mahao, you effectively raised the middle finger at him and instead sent a representative.
A court summons is not transferable but you successfully shifted responsibility without bothering to explain why to the judge. A frightened Peete seemingly recoiled into his robes.
Perhaps afraid to charge you with contempt. What if your men walk into his court and take him out?
It seems that this is the fear your actions are aimed at instilling in every Mosotho. This will not wash.
As the saying goes, you can fool some people sometime but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.
Equally, you can frighten some people some time, but you cannot frighten all the people all of the time. Instead of frightening people, the LDF’s actions under your command will in fact harden attitudes. They will not endear you to the masses. They will certainly not earn more votes for your principals?
You should be our protector Ntate. Not our tormentor. When we meet men and women in uniform, we should feel safe, not fear. With rumours of a hit list persisting, fear and loathing will abound.
But no one has ever achieved respect from being feared. Respect is always earned. Ultimately, every Mosotho must stand for what is right. Murder is abominable. So are any other forms of violence to settle scores. Let’s all rather die than be cowed.
For evil will indeed triumph if the good among us get intimidated into acquiescence.
May Maaparankoe’s soul never rest until justice is done.