8 September 2017

Lesotho: SANDF in Lesotho On Fact-Finding Mission

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the South African government will be in Lesotho from Friday on a fact-finding mission following the assassination of Lesotho Defence Force Chief Lieutenant General Khoantle Motsomotso.

The Minister said this when the Peace and Security Cluster Ministers answered questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

The Lesotho Defence Force Chief was shot dead reportedly by an army officer earlier this week in an incident that sparked fears of a possible coup in the Mountain Kingdom.

"South Africa currently is the chair of SADC, so as we speak, we have people on the ground as a region, who are picking up information as to what exactly happened.

"We will also have a fact finding mission in Lesotho, also mandated by SADC. Not only that, I am aware that our Chiefs of Defence within the region will be convening [on Friday] to discuss the political situation within the region," the Minister said.

After the news of the assassination broke, President Jacob Zuma condemned the senseless killing of General Motsomotso.

He said the incident was regrettable, especially because his assassination took place two years after the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force Commander, Brigadier Maaparankoe Mohao, in June 2015.

On Thursday, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula said the situation was difficult to deal with before all the facts had been gathered.

"The truth of the matter is that the head of the Defence Force of that country was shot right at the barracks by two of his officers. Of course, we all send our condolences to the people of Lesotho," she said.

SANDF in liaison with counterparts over border security

Meanwhile, the Minister said the SANDF has established various bilateral operations liaison fora with countries with which South Africa shares land borders in order to address common matters and collaborations on cross border patrols.

She said South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, are working together and meeting on a quarterly basis.

"As part of this work, the SANDF has also exchanged communications systems with each one of these partners to ensure improved monitoring and communications. More work is ongoing to establish similar structures with the remaining countries in the neighbourhood.

"... We have very sound and positive relations with all our neighbouring countries as part of the SADC region... There is commitment of ensuring that there is peace, security and stability, within our region," the Minister said.

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