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Jan. 23, 2021

STAFF REPORTER

4 min read

Major General Lekhanya is remembered

Major General Lekhanya is remembered

The late Major General Metsing Lekhanya

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FORMER head of military junta Major General Metsing Justin Lekhanya who died on Wednesday at the Makoanyane Military Hospital was diagnosed with chronic sugar diabetes and high blood sugar, his family has confirmed.

Family spokesperson Tšepo Lekhanya said the late commander who died at the age of 82 was their pillar of strength.

“He was the backbone of the family and our father,” he said.

He added: “Last week he travelled to our home district Thaba-Tseka and upon his return on Sunday, he complained about incessant body pains. So on Monday we took him to the Makoanyane Military Hospital where he was admitted. The hospital informed us on Wednesday at 12 noon about his passing on.”

The family, Tšepo said will be able to tell the cause of his death after a post-mortem report has been released.

Paying homage to the late commander, retired Major General Samuel Makoro, says when he joined the army in 1978, the venerable Lekhanya was the army chief.

At the time, the feared security agency was called the Lesotho Para-Military Force and had just been reformed from the Police Mobile Unit (PMU).

“What fascinated us as recruits about the late commander was the way he led the army. We even admired the way he wore his military attire and how he marched,” Makoro recalls.

He says they also admired the manner in which Lekhanya conducted military training exercises, adding that the late army boss was a true military man at heart.

“I have never seen a more active army commander than Major General Lekhanya,” he also says.

Due to Lekhanya’s sense of humour, Makoro says recruits did not even feel the brunt of their tough military training.

“The man was a truly talented soldier, every military maneuver came naturally to him. No one has served the Lesotho army the way he did,” Makoro also says.

The army, he notes transformed through stages under Lekhanya’s adept command until it came to be called the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

Some of the milestones Lekhanya made in the army, he says include forming the air-wing.

“Major General Lekhanya bought several army helicopters from Germany and trained local young soldiers to fly those aircrafts.

He also bought highly sophisticated military equipment such as armoured vehicles and arms to improve the standard of the force. Nobody else bought as much equipment I can bet,” he says.

The Makoanyane Military Barracks and other smaller army bases like Ha Khabo were built under Lekhanya’s command.

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“One of the things he did during his tenure was to teach young unmarried soldiers to save money. Most army officers were able to progress in life owing to the schemes he established,” Makoro also says.

When he entered civilian life, Major General Lekhanya became leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP).

Remembering the fallen icon, BNP deputy leader Machesetsa Mofomobe said Lekhanya’s passing is a huge loss to the former ruling party.

“We are grieving as a nation and party because we have lost a true leader,” Mofomobe said.

He added: “We will remember him for his bravery which became apparent during the difficult times in the politics of Lesotho. He pushed for the establishment of Proposed Representation and delegated BNP members to the Interim Political Authority (IPA).

 

The late commander who was born on April 7, 1938 in Mantšonyane, Thaba-Tseka is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.

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