Statement by President Nelson Mandela on the death of King Moshoeshoe II

15 January 1996

I have learnt with profound shock of the tragic death, this morning, of King Moshoeshoe II of the Kingdom of Lesotho. His untimely and tragic death is a great loss to the Basotho nation, to the people of South Africa and the sub-continent, and to Africa as a whole.

King Moshoeshoe II was a great friend of the people of South Africa, an able leader and one of the world's reigning monarchs who unequivocally embraced democracy within the context of the history and traditions of their nations.

A descendent of king Moshoeshoe I - revered warrior-general and diplomat, King Moshoeshoe II was instrumental in the struggle of the Basotho nation for their independence; and in their staunch resistance to the aggressive policies of successive apartheid regimes to undermine the Kingdom's sovereignty. More recently, he played an active role in pursuing the return of Lesotho to democracy and constitutional rule.

In the interactions that I have had with him, especially during the past months when leaders of Southern Africa sought to assist in resolving the constitutional crisis in the Kingdom of Lesotho, I found him considerate, sensitive to the interests of his people, rational and capable of rising above narrow personal interests. The hospitality that he extended to our delegation when we visited Lesotho last year, will forever remain deeply etched in my memories.

For these and other reasons, South Africans and I, personally, will continue to admire him.

My condolences and these of our nation as a whole, go to Queen Mamohato Seeiso and other members of the Royal Family, the Government of Lesotho and the Basotho nation as a whole. We are with you at this moment of grief.

We are confident that this tragedy will spur on the Basotho nation to close ranks and rally behind democracy and constitutional rule. On our part, the Government of National Unity wishes to reaffirm our commitment to the bilateral and multilateral agreements with, and obligations towards, the people and democratically-elected government of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The following message of condolences has been sent to Prime Minister Dr N Mokhehle:

His Excellency the Rt Hon Dr N Mokhehle
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho
Kingdom of Lesotho

Your Excellency

The news of the sudden and unexpected death of His Majesty King Moshoeshoe II in a road accident on 15 January 1996 was received in the Republic of South Africa with great sadness.

King Moshoeshoe served the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho with great distinction during his reign and was highly respected in South Africa and throughout the African continent for fostering good relations.

On behalf of the people of the Republic of South Africa, and on my own behalf, I extend to her Majesty Queen Mamohato Seeiso, the Royal family of Lesotho and the people of Lesotho my most sincere and heartfelt condolences.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website