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Court hears Mahao died at hospital

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Relebohile Makhetha

The High Court this week heard that former army commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao arrived at the hospital alive, as the trial of several Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) members, including former Army Commander Tlali Kamoli, continued.

The accused are charged with the murder of Mahao, a case that has drawn significant attention. The prosecution presented evidence from Major General ‘Matumelo Ramoqopo, who attended to the deceased at Makoanyane Military Hospital before he died.

Mahao was killed on June 25, 2015, in what the army described as an attempt to arrest him. The army claimed he resisted arrest, necessitating the use of lethal force.

However, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry found these claims to be highly improbable, citing scientific evidence that suggested excessive force was used.

The commission recommended prosecuting those involved in Mahao’s murder according to international standards.

The accused—Captains Litekanyo Nyakane and Haleeo Makara; Sergeants Lekhooa Moepi and Motsamai Fako; Corporals Marasi ‘Moleli, Motšoane Machai, Mohlalefi Seitlheko, and Tšitso Ramoholi; and Lieutenant General Kamoli—are charged with Mahao’s murder.

On Monday, Major General Ramoqopo recounted the events of June 25, 2015. She said she received a call from Major General Lineo Poopa inquiring if they had received a patient that day.

She testified that although details about the patient were scarce, she concluded that it must have been a special case and decided to make further inquiries.

Ramoqopo detailed how she went to the office of the matrons near the reception to gather information. She narrated that she got another call from Poopa, instructing them to prepare to receive the patient. While in the matrons’ office, she continued, a soldier named Makara, identified as one of the accused, informed them that they had brought the patient.

She described the scene as she approached the ambulance area, where she saw Major Hokinyana supporting a male patient from a white double cab vehicle.

She told the court that the patient could walk but with difficulty. She recognised the patient as General Mahao, noting his severe blood loss and injuries. Along with Private Sechele, they helped the patient onto a trolley and moved him to the emergency room.

She explained that Mahao had a fractured bone on his upper right arm, two wounds on the inner part of the upper arm, two chest wounds, and a small open wound on his back that was bleeding profusely.

Despite their efforts to stabilise him, including dressing the wounds and attempting to intubate, she testified that Mahao’s condition deteriorated, becoming restless, having difficulty breathing, and eventually going into a coma.

She said CPR was applied, but he could not be resuscitated and was certified dead.

The accused are not only charged with Mahao’s murder but also face multiple other charges related to this case.

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