EIGHT foreign mercenaries who were convicted of the 2009 attempt to topple former Prime Minister Dr Pakalitha Mosisili could soon walk out of prison as free men.
Oct. 25, 2021
3 min read
Mosisili pardons mercenaries who tried to unseat him
Former Prime Minister, Dr Pakalitha Mosisili
- LCS says the convicts who served 10-year jail term are eligible for parole
- Ex-PM believes there are more suspects beyond Ramakatane and Lerotholi
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The hired gunmen who include seven Mozambicans and a South African national stormed the Makoanyane army barracks on the night of April 22, 2009 and hijacked two army vehicles and stole guns from the arsenal.
They later used the stolen arms to launch an attack on the State House.
It later emerged during their trial that their plan was to remove Dr Mosisili and install their own man in the State House.
Little is known about the mastermind behind this ill-fated mission, which left four of the soldiers of fortune dead and the rest of their compatriots apprehended after a movie-like car chase and shootout between the hired-guns and members of the local law enforcement agencies.
After serving 10 of their 12-year jail term, Mosisili has given the convicts jailed at the Maseru Maximum Prison a free pass as the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) contemplates releasing them on parole.
One of the convicts, a Mozambican national has since died behind bars.
"The Commissioner of LCS together with the Minister of Law and three female officials from the Department of Social Welfare within the LCS, recently paid me a visit and urged me to consider pardoning these men who staged a foiled coup in Lesotho and endangered my life.
“I was informed the visit was part of due process followed when prisoners are eligible for parole," Dr Mosisili told the media on Sunday.
Evidence by a soldier who was on guard duty at the State House gate that night showed how the assailants ambushed him after pretending to be part of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
The mercenaries the court was also told were travelling in an army armoured vehicle, which they had commandeered at the Makoanyane Barracks.
Four Mozambican mercenaries were later gunned down by members of the state security forces in Khubetsoana as they attempted to cross the border to South Africa.
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"After I would have been taken hostage, the attackers would have been taken me to the national broadcasting station where I would have been forced to announce my retirement to the nation. This is a confession I got from the prisoners begging for my forgiveness after we talked face to face last week at the prison facility in Maseru.
"They said two men, named Jessie (Ramatakane) and General Mashai (Makotoko Lerotholi) had promised them jobs in Lesotho, adding that they only learnt about the plot to topple me when they were already in Lesotho. I forgave them but they also have to ask for forgiveness from the soldiers they shot at, who they nearly killed,” he said.
He said it is unfortunate that the convicts served time in jail while the people who orchestrated the plot remain free.
“I believe there are more suspects beyond Lerotholi and Ramatakane,” he also said.