All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has condemned the recent brutal attack on his estranged party's deputy spokesperson 'Matebatso Doti.
Dr Thabane also demanded retributive justice be meted out on the eight male assailants for the attack that has been described by Ms Doti and her faction of the ABC as a politically motivated "assassination attempt". Ms Doti is part of the ABC faction backing the party's deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, in his vicious battle with Dr Thabane for control of the party.
She was fired from her post as Social Development minister in February 2019 together with Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights minister, Lebohang Hlaele. Although Dr Thabane did not give reasons for the move, it is widely believed that this was punishment for her siding with Prof Mahao in the ABC power struggle.
Ms Doti, who is also the ABC's legislator for the Lithabaneng constituency, is lucky to be alive after being stabbed five times by eight unknown assailants in what she said was an assassination attempt at her Lithabaneng, Maseru, home in the early hours of Friday 26 July 2019.
The assailants told Ms Doti that they had been sent to kill her for siding with Prof Mahao in the ABC power struggle. They also robbed her of M4000 and two guns owned by her late husband who had retired from the army by the time of his death in 2017.
Two separate statements released by the government and the police on the day of the assault suggested that the attack on Ms Doti was purely a criminal act of assault, theft and robbery by criminals who made off with her valuables.
Dr Thabane broke his silence on the issue early this week at a rally in the Stadium Area in Maseru. He appeared to take the government and police line that the attack on Ms Doti was purely a criminal act by ordinary criminals.
He however, condemned the attack and demanded the retributive style of justice reminiscent of the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth concept of the Biblical Old Testament.
The premier was magnanimous in his praise for his party rival, describing Ms Doti as a "respectable person".
He called on the police to expedite investigations so that the culprits could be brought to book.
"Honorable Doti is an elderly and respectable person and this issue of her being disrespected by small boys should be dealt with. "And if any part of their bodies is the problem, then that part should be removed by using a knife," Dr Thabane said without elaborating. A senior party official who spoke to this publication said the premier's comments were "merely a figurative way of saying the assailants should be severely punished for their actions".
Ms Doti has since left the Makoanyane Military Hospital in Maseru where she had been detained after the attack. She is now back at her Lithabaneng home. (See story on page 6).
Last week, she addressed ABC supporters who attended the Mahao faction's Matsieng rally by telephone and spoke of her fervent wish for a quick recovery that would enable her to return to the cutthroat arena of the faction-ridden politics of the ABC.
She also demanded that her assailants be swiftly brought to justice for the brutal "assassination attempt" which almost ended her life.
Just like Dr Thabane, Prof Mahao described Ms Doti as "a gentle soul (with) a heart of gold".
Prof Mahao said her attack "adds to a long list of ABC women whose lives have been threatened in the past six months since the election. Some have received threats over the phone".
On his part, ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele said whoever attacked Ms Doti and all other women were cowards for targeting the most vulnerable members of the society.
"When I had of 'M'e' Doti's ordeal I prayed that God ends the lives of her attackers. I prayed that they burn in hell. I know that God has heard my prayers and he will eventually answer me," Mr Hlaele said.