’Mojakhomo: a big own goal

’Mojakhomo: a big own goal

RESPECTED international human rights defenders, Amnesty International, and the Transformation Resource Centre this week added their voices to demands to find ’Makarabo Mojakhomo.
Mojakhomo, who worked for First Lady Maesaiah Thabane’s Trust Fund, “disappeared” at the police headquarters in Maseru on May 31.
She was facing charges of fraud and theft by false pretences.

Almost three weeks after she vanished, there has been no word about whether she is alive or not despite her family launching a harbeaus corpus case in the High Court.
Now Amnesty International and our very own Transformation Resource Centre have waded into the controversy.
In a hard-hitting statement this week, Amnesty is demanding that the government of Lesotho “must undertake an independent, impartial investigation into this disappearance, and to publicly disclose its findings”.

It must also “provide Makarabo’s family with accurate and regular information about her safety and whereabouts”.
Sadly, this is not the first time that Amnesty International has been involved in a case of this nature. We have been here before.
Over the last few years there have been similar cases of “enforced disappearances” in Lesotho with those individuals either being found dumped in dams or buried in shallow graves. Others had to be exhumed from shallow graves.

Amnesty International says it “is worried that this is an emblematic case of what may constitute a culture of impunity in the country”.
The government must demonstrate that it is committed to get to the bottom of this matter. Unless it does so, its reputation as a fearless defender of the people’s basic rights will be besmirched.
The mere fact that Mojakhomo was allowed to “disappear” at the police headquarters, as the police allege, smacks of dereliction of duty on the part of the police.
The result is that the police have opened themselves to unnecessary attacks. There have been lots of speculations on social media as to what could have happened to Mojakhomo.
That is all very unnecessary.

What happened to Mojakhomo could happen to anyone. That is why the police must find Mojakhomo, alive.
In fact, we believe the Mojakhomo issue was the biggest “own goal” that the government scored against itself. This is a government that was elected on the basis that it would do things differently.
The people expect that their basic rights will be respected and upheld.

We are not surprised that the Mojakhomo’s family has rejected the police’s version of events. They suspect foul play. That is understandable given the sad history of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that we have seen in Lesotho.

Until the police find Mojakhomo, the government should brace itself for more pressure from the international community.
Sadly, the spotlight is now on Lesotho. Amnesty International and similar human rights organisations will not rest until this matter is resolved.
Those responsible for flouting the basic rights of the people, no matter their station in life, must be held accountable.
Lesotho is a country that must be guided by the rule of law and respect for the basic rights of its people.

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