All we want is justice for Mutungamiri

All we want is justice for Mutungamiri

On behalf of the Mutungamiri family, I would like to express my gratitude following the arrest of the five soldiers who are suspects in the shooting of our brother, Lloyd, on the night of 9 July 2016, outside his home in Maseru.

We commend the new Lesotho government and the police for ensuring the arrest of the suspected perpetrators.
While we are grateful to the Lesotho government for demonstrating political will and making a good start in 2017, we are also gripped with fear and uncertainty as to what the future holds, with regards to the case.

We wonder if the walk towards ensuring justice for our brother is going to be achieved within a reasonable timeframe as it appears to be threatened by some endless delays.
These delays have seen suspects appearing in court more than 20 times in a space of six months, still with no trial date, which leaves us wondering whether indeed we will ever get justice.
We understand that investigations by the police in the case were thorough and successfully finalised.
However, we wait with heavy hearts to hear in court why the suspects decided to shoot our brother, when already they were some court proceedings underway following the arrest of the publisher of the Lesotho Times newspaper.

We are also hoping that our brother, who is still suffering from the injuries he sustained from the shooting, will still be alive to hear the suspects explain how he wronged them and if at all what they did to him defines their understanding of what justice is all about, if at all he wronged them.
Our brother and his family are waiting for justice to help them pick up the pieces of what is left of their lives, and painfully move on.
Each day they wait, but with each passing day they also lose hope in the system they expected to understand what happened to them, the pain they are still going through and quickly help them to recover.

Justice is critical because without it, there can be no healing, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness; justice can help prevent revenge; it reflects fulfilment of an obligation by those who hold power to the victims; it is an international-law based duty; failure of justice weakens legitimacy and the process of democratisation, good governance and the rule of law, which Lesotho is currently striving for; and with justice, Lesotho can break the disturbing cycle of impunity.

It is our view that, based on the shooting our brother suffered, the Lesotho government will be able to prioritise intervention arrangements to support the restoration of our brother’s family, especially in view of the country’s very weak justice system.

Our brother urgently needs help to meet his daily medical expenses, which also include a three-tier operation procedure.
We understand that efforts to request for such assistance from the government were initiated through the Ministry of Defence, and unfortunately, they attracted further punishment upon the family, in particular the persecution of Lloyd’s wife by the very people supposed to protect and support the family.

The operation our brother requires will help improve his quality of life, although some injuries were formally declared permanent through a recent medical evaluation, eg the paralysis on his lower lip and left side of his face, caused by a bullet which went through his mouth, painfully shattering his lower right jaw, burning his tongue and whole mouth and damaging his teeth before it lodged behind his left ear. The bullet also injured some nerves in the process of trying to kill him. This paralysis makes it difficult for him to control his facial expressions.

For the last two painful years, our brother and his family have had no peace due to lack of adequate and appropriate support to help them heal and move on with their lives.
They now carry along a bad label that has caused them to be stigmatised in some circles and ruined the wife’s efforts to be employed again at the same level she was when her husband was shot.
They have lost some friends and their good jobs. As a family, we have lost a once vibrant and healthy brother who was not only a provider of his own family but also provided financial help to his extended family.

It breaks our hearts that our brother, the most intelligent in our family and once our hope, now suffers like this.
A man who once enjoyed his meat, he can no longer chew it neither can he taste all the food he eats.
Can one ever imagine life without having the sense of knowing what the food you are eating tastes like?
It still takes him courage to look himself in the mirror and courage for him to be in the public spaces.
In the last two horrendous years, he has not been able to eat in public due to his weak jaw. Due to his poor sight, his love for reading and indeed his source of livelihood, which is editing, was painfully stolen from him.

After the tragedy Lloyd, you remain my hero, my dear brother, I shall always be proud of you. I know you fought a good and brave fight in Lesotho and stayed in the country, loyal to your Journalism profession, when others ran away from the danger that almost took your life.
I pray for you to hang in there because the same God who successfully fought for you in a hail of bullets is wiser my brother.

God has a good plan and is going to make a new safer get-away path for you and your family.
It is true that real heroes are usually not celebrated when they are still alive, but as for me, I celebrate you while you live. I salute you my brother and I am sorry you had to go through all this.
Lloyd and his wife had plans and ambitions, to work for their brilliant children through university, but then, what once sustained such dreams was robbed by the five suspects.
While the suspects, through an act of God, failed to assassinate our brother, they succeeded in robbing him and his wife of the investments they made building their careers through hard work for many years; the suspects cruelly stole their confidence and shattered their dreams and aspirations.

The suspects are also responsible for inflicting the scars their children will live with throughout their lives, a constant and permanent reminder of how cruel some human beings can be to other human beings.
We wonder if the children will ever be able to trust again. They too want to know why their father was shot.

It is heartbreaking, and those who have worked with my brother Lloyd and his wife, can attest to the fact that they were a humble hardworking couple that meant no harm to anyone.
To say the least, they remain devastated and lost, two years after our brother’s shooting.

As we continue watching events from afar, it is our sincere hope that the Lesotho government will help our brother and his family to get the justice they deserve.
We hope that, for the sake of humanity, the government will do everything in their power to oil the wheels of justice in addition to taking reasonable and practical steps that can help reduce the pain our brother is enduring and to help restore his traumatised family.

• George Mutungamiri writes on behalf of the Mutungamiri Family. Contact Person Email: Nestamutungamiri@gmail.com

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