2 May 2019

Lesotho: Slain Driver's Family Ready to Engage Business Mogul Nthane

THE family of the slain Nthane Brothers company driver, Kopang Mohapi, says it is ready for talks with murder-accused business tycoon, Tšeliso Nthane, over the circumstances of his January 2019 killing.

Although he would not be drawn into saying whether or not they wanted financial or other material compensation from Mr Nthane for Mr Mohapi's killing, the family spokesperson, Rethabile Mohapi said they were ready to talk to Mr Nthane now that the grieving period was over. In previous interviews with this publication, the family vowed to make Mr Nthane pay for killing Mr Mohapi.

Mr Nthane, whose businesses span the construction and hospitality sectors, shot and killed his 51-year-old truck driver, Kopang Mohapi of Qacha's Nek. Mr Mohapi was involved in a road accident at the Moteng Pass about 171 kilometres from Maseru while transporting construction machinery to Polihali in Mokhotlong for the Nthane Brothers Company which was recently awarded a road construction tender for the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

Mr Mohapi's truck overturned, throwing off construction machinery which blocked the road. Mr Nthane shot Mr Mohapi the next day following a confrontation about the accident before rushing him to the Butha-Buthe hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Nthane subsequently handed himself over to the Butha-Buthe police where a murder case was opened against him.

He was subsequently hospitalised under police supervision at the Butha-Buthe Hospital with hypertension in the aftermath of the shooting incident which sent shockwaves around the country.

Mr Mohapi was eventually buried at his rural home in Qacha's Nek in February where his family vowed to "make Mr Nthane pay for killing their own".

At the funeral, the deceased's widow, 'Mamohato Mohapi expressed her wish to meet Mr Nthane so that he could explain what transpired between him and her husband that led to his killing.

But until now the talks had not been held with the deceased's brother, Mr Rethabile, telling the Lesotho Times that they had been put on hold to give Mr Mohapi's widow time to grieve and to "shed her mourning attire" that Basotho women wear during the mourning period.

And this week, Mr Rethabile said the family was ready to begin talks with Mr Nthane now that Ms Mohapi had been traditionally cleansed and had removed her mourning clothes.

"We had agreed as a family to put on hold the plans to engage Mr Nthane or his family on my brother's death. We thought it was best to let my sister-in-law grieve and come to terms with her husband's sudden death," Mr Rethabile said.

"Last week we cleansed her and now we believe that she is in a better state to engage in talks about her husband's murder. No arrangements have been made on the impending talks," Mr Rethabile said.

Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili attended Mr Mohapi's burial and pleaded for forgiveness on behalf of Mr Nthane, saying he had spoken to Mr Nthane who he said "regretted shooting and killing".

Dr Mosisili begged the family members not to harbour hatred or attempt revenge, warning that vengeance could escalate into more unnecessary fatalities.

"I heard one of the family members contemplating revenge on Tšeliso. We understand the anger and pain that you are going through and rightly so. A man has died leaving behind a wife and children. Nothing Ntate Nthane will ever do can bring back your loved one.

"Without sounding like I am downplaying the seriousness of this matter, I appeal to you not to seek revenge. That man's (Mr Nthane) life will never be the same again. Not a single day in his entire life will go by without that fateful incident haunting him. Do not let this death lead you into the temptation of causing many more deaths," Dr Mosisili said.

Meanwhile, a source at the Butha-Buthe Magistrates' Court this week told this publication that Mr Nthane has been excused from attending remands until police investigations were completed.

"Ntate Nthane has been excused from attending the remands until the police have completed their investigations and the actual date for his murder trial is set," the source said.

After the January shooting of Mr Mohapi, Mr Nthane handed himself over to the Butha-Buthe police station where a murder charge was opened against him. He was released on M5000 bail on condition that he will be available to stand trial to finality. He was ordered to report to Butha-Buthe police on his remand dates and was also ordered not to interfere with the Crown witnesses.

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