… as elderly woman is killed for ‘sending lightning’

… as elderly woman is killed for ‘sending lightning’

MOHALE’S HOEK – An elderly woman was bludgeoned to death and her three-year-old burnt beyond recognition as witchcraft related killings continue to rock the country. Eight Mohale’s Hoek men are now behind bars after they beat the 68-year-old woman with wooden rods and set her hut ablaze while the three-year-old grandchild was inside.

They appeared before the Mohale’s Hoek magistrates’ court for remand on Monday last week and their bail application is expected to be heard in the High Court sometime this month.
The men, Rapelang Seholome, 48, Retšelisitsoe Phama, 21, Sello Mokoena, 48, Karabo Phama, 25, Letšabella Ntšekalle, 41, Mokake Leteba, 47, Retšelisitsoe Khutlang and Rapelang Seholome, 48, accused ‘Mapakiso Sekeleoane of witchcraft.

They believed Sekeleoane struck their relative with lightning earlier last month.
Puffed up with the spirit of vengeance, the men allegedly marched to the elderly woman’s home at midnight and torched her hut while she was sleeping in it together with two other younger women.

Awoken by smoke and flames, Sekeleoane and the two women got out running to call for help. The attackers laid siege outside.
Police say the men descended on her with clubs, wooden rods and other weapons and hit her all over the body as she lay down helplessly.

The other two women came back with neighbours but it was too late to save Sekeleoane , who succumbed to the beatings in hospital.
The hut was wholly engulfed by the flames, making it impossible to and they could not rescue the child who was in it.
The attackers fled but not before they had been identified.

Police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli applauded the villagers for helping the police identify the suspects.
Sekeleoane’s death is not the first witchcraft related killing of an elderly woman in Lesotho.
In 2013, the Court of Appeal jailed two men, Mosehle Maboka and Kelebone Rankhelepe for murder and arson.

The two men had stabbed 60-year-old ’Maphooko Phooko and torched her home in Matlamemg, Leribe, accusing her of striking their brother with lightning. In 1989, then High Court judge Justice Mahapela Lehohla sentenced four men to prison for the murder of ’Mamotjetwa Nokotjwa, whom they believed was a witch.

They stabbed her with a knife and assaulted her with wooden sticks. They believed she had bewitched their 12-year-old relative who was sickly and had hallucinations in which she saw Nokotjwa and another woman instructing her to go to a certain mountain in Quthing.

Many victims of witchcraft related killings are mercilessly dragged to the centre of the village and burnt alive while others are battered to death by young men.

Many Basotho pay lingaka (witchdoctors) to protect them against lightning they believe is sent by witches.
A Mafeteng town-based traditional healer, Papali Malesela, says he has “cured” many villages and protected them from being vulnerable to witch-driven lightning.

“I will not tell you what I use lest I reveal the secrets that are not supposed to be known by witches,” Malesela says.
“But, truly speaking, witches wreak havoc in villages where proper muti has not been used,” he says.
“I have also protected many families who directly seek my intervention when they are threatened,” he says.

“Witches driving lightning are not just imaginary; it is real although the churches deny it.”
Malesela says people should not take the law into their own hands when they suspect that someone has struck their loved ones with lightning.
“Sometimes their suspicions are without basis. They should consult a doctor who will reveal who is responsible and allow that doctor to work instead of them letting their hands be blood-stained,” he says.

A lecturer at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology David Mojewa says “Basotho are still too cultural, they believe more in superstitions than scientific reports.” “We are too cultural, we have ancestors and we believe that when it gets dry or when we experience drought it’s because our ancestors are mad at us, when we experience great floods that take our houses we sometimes believe it’s because of evil spirits or witchcraft,” Mojewa says.

Majobere Selebalo

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