Major-General Poqa Motoa, third witness in the murder case against former army boss, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and others, said Kamoli was threatened by him.
Motoa made the revelation in court yesterday as he took the stand in the matter wherein Kamoli is charged alongside Sargent Lekhooa Moepi, Corporal Marasi ‘Moleli, Sargent Motsamai Fako, Corporal Motšoane Machai, Corporal Mohlalefi Seitlheko and Corporal Tšitso Ramoholi, Captain Haleo Makara and Captain Litekanyo Nyakane for the June 25, 2015 murder of the late Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.
He told the court of Acting Justice Charles Hungwe that Kamoli was hungry for power and ever anxious and jittery about anyone snatching it from him.
Motoa narrated that his relationship with Kamoli turned sour after the latter accused him of being in the good books of former Prime Minister Tom Thabane whom he was aware was about to, at the time, assume the country’s premiership post the 2012 general elections, hence would unseat him (Kamoli) in favour of Motoa as army commander.
“After the General Elections of 2012, elections, which myself and others didn’t even participate in, there was no winner and there was a call for parties to form a coalition, so it became evident that Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) was the leading party and Thabane was going to be a Prime Minister.
“I was summoned to Kamoli’s office where I found him with his Deputy Major General Motšomotšo. They said they heard that I was going to be made a commander and he (Kamoli) was going to lose his job as Thabane is going to appoint me as commander. I denied the allegations but he insisted saying he heard from the Intelligence Department,” Motoa said.
He further remembered an incident that happened before a shootout at Koalabata was heard at the night of August 29, 2014. He said Kamoli convened a meeting on August 28 and said to them in that meeting, that he had learned of plot to arm a group calling itself Under the Tree Army (UTTA) with weapons from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to attack congress political parties that were going to match from Stadium to Sefikeng sa Moshoeshoe.
He said at mid-night he heard “…gunshots from Koalabata, I knew because I live in Naleli. Other gunshots were heard at Mabote Police Station.”
He said he immediately received a telephone call from the Motšomotšo saying he should report himself at Ha-Ratjomose Barracks.
“I immediately drove to Ha-Ratjomose, as I was coming close to the office of Motšomotšo, I realised that he was parting ways with Poopa, Brigadier Kaibe, Major Ramoepana who was previously the body guard of Thabane and was replaced by Mosakeng.
“Kamoli got in a car with Kaibe while Motšomotšo went inside the office with Poopa and Ramoepana. They were heavily armed. He said Kamoli was going to mediate between Mothetjoa Metsing, Thabane and Maseribane because they fled in the country.
“He directed that I should go back to my office, that he would tell me when he needs me, I sat there until 15:00hrs in the afternoon when he phoned me and told me to go home. I knew in the morning hours that two officers had been arrested; Colonel Matlali and Lieutenant Matobo and they were later released,” he said.
Motoa also said that Kamoli had a very sour relationship with Mahao who was fatally gunned at Mokema in Maseru district by members of the LDF.
He said Kamoli and Mahao had always been on bitter terms remembering one incident in the Barracks where diarrhea had attacked many LDF members. He said Kamoli who was the commander then, inspected what happened and blamed Mahao for it.
He further indicated that one afternoon as they were readying to get in an afternoon meeting which was scheduled for 14:00hrs on Monday, Mahao said he heard the late Colonel Tefo Hashatsi say that no one will dethrone Kamoli from his position, for as long as (Hashatsi) was alive.
“He went to Hashatsi and confronted him to tell him that it was unlike a military officer to speak like that but Hashatsi would not be dissuaded and pig-headedly repeated it. I was with Mareka and we told him to let it go, then we went to the meeting and departed home. Kamoli was in Rwanda when all these happened.
“The following day Mahao got a suspension letter signed by Major General Motšomotšo who was taking orders from Kamoli. We later learned that he was charged in court martial but the case did not proceed to finality.
He continued that Kamoli knew about Mahao’s confrontation to Hashatsi and regarded that as bad behaviour of Mahao to be meddling in the soldiers’ matters.
He said the surprising thing is that Kamoli ordered that Mahao should not enter the Barracks unless when he was going to the Court, which he used one road in and out. He said all the suspended soldiers had the privilege of entering the premises even to sleeping in the campus.
The case is continuing before Justice Hungwe.