Roll back poverty  to stop crime

Roll back poverty to stop crime

Basotho are living in distress and anguish as their country languishes in the face of regular incidents of rape, murder, hijackings and corruption. These evils have the effect of striking terror and sparking panic in society.
The result is that Basotho are now afraid to send their children to school, terrified to use public transport to work, or even to stay alone in what should be the sanctity of their own homes.

Rampant crime is becoming a serious problem in this country and it is only right that the government prioritises this issue. I wish to thank the government for Operation Restore Hope. This effort is a joint operation which consists of the Lesotho Defence Force, the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and the National Security Service.
It seems that the Covid-19 pandemic has made matters worse. Post Covid-19 crisis, we must rebuild this economy and it is unfortunate that the government is forced to use their resources to fight crime instead of reinvesting in the economy.

Since investment and growth require a safe, stable and crime-free environment it is correct for government to prioritise crime prevention.
Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro appears to be worried and frustrated by the recent spate of killings and other crimes in the country. On October 14, 2020 the Prime Minister launched Operation Restore Hope.

The operation was handed 31 vehicles and they also have access to 3 LDF helicopters. I hope this move will be effective in countering the prevalence of criminal activities in our country.
Their mandate is to deal with stock theft, murder and car hijackings.
There is no doubt that shootings and murders have increased sharply in our country since last year, and that many of the killings have been tragically senseless. I know you have heard of criminal incidents in your neighbourhood but for the sake of this article I would like to state just three incidents that have happened in the past two months.

Remember the six-armed robbers who broke into a supermarket, pointing guns at staff. This incident happened at the newly opened Pick n Pay Supermarket in Masianokeng. They took off with M6 000 and two phones. These men were later arrested.

I saw a video clip of a few armed gunmen who robbed a G4S Security vehicle that does cash-in-transit outside Maseru Mall. These robbers exchanged fire with G4S security guards on Sunday 11 October during a daring armed robbery.

Last week a friend of mine Ntebo Ralekuku was hijacked at gunpoint from Maseru Mall. A man approached Ntebo in the parking lot and forced her to surrender her vehicle. I have heard of so many sad stories of car hijacking in the last five months.

The big question on everybody’s lips is: “Who will be the next to be murdered or robbed?” These incidents have raised vital questions about the inability of our national and law enforcement agencies to protect ordinary people, including the most vulnerable who are women and children.

For several months now, it had appeared as if our leaders had become deaf to the cries of our people; they had become so embroiled in pursuing their own agendas and aspirations that this was blinding them from seeing the tears of innocent citizens who become victims of crime.

But thank God they saw the tears of innocent Basotho who are victims of crime. I am glad the government launched the Operation Restore Hope. Year 2020 is a lawless year in which property theft and money-related crime have become commonplace, and every advance made by the police has seemingly been matched by the increasing ruthlessness and sophistication of criminals. Murder crimes, especially those perpetrated with firearms, have risen inexorably.

I have been disturbed at the rate at which Basotho now engage in acts of criminality. But I am shocked at the way Basotho are fighting for government to stop the mobile court known as Iveco. Offenders are crying foul and want the mobile court stopped.
The way I see it, very soon Basotho will be fighting this Operation Restore Hope, because criminals will be protesting soon. I hope and pray that the government will not be swayed.

While this operation will be dealing with crime, I am disappointed to realise that no one is dealing with the core of what is causing that crime. This country must come up with strategies on how to deal with the core causes of crime such as vagrancy, homelessness, unemployment and poverty.

The Covid-19 lockdown has seen a deterioration in economic conditions, which seems to favour criminal activity, since more people are likely to engage in crime as an alternative source of income. The relationship between crime and poverty is very interesting because higher levels of crime may also undermine economic stability, investment, and productivity. It appears that poverty generates crime whilst on the other hand crime leads to more poverty.

As I conclude. it is worth mentioning that poverty is the mother of all crimes. I have passed by the Tšosane dumping site and saw Basotho go through piles of garbage and pick up anything of value, either to keep or sell. While I applaud the government for their efforts to fight crime, I want to categorically state that crime is the symptom – the real culprit is poverty, hunger and unemployment.
Our government must first address these issues.

Ramahooana matlosa

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