Task-force set up to deal with famo killings

Task-force set up to deal with famo killings


Justice Maqelepo

TOURISM Minister Likeleli Tampane yesterday condemned the famo music gang killings in Parliament, barely a week after yet another man was killed in Ha-Matala in Maseru.

The police have identified the victim as a Mafeteng man. Mafeteng is a district well-known for famo music gangsterism.

The police say the man was killed as he was walking in the street in the company of a woman and her young son.

The name of the victim is yet to be made public pending the police’s investigations.

This latest killing happened about four weeks after unidentified gunmen mercilessly shot and killed four men and injured eight others in Ha-’Mantšebo in Qeme.

Famo music gangster-ism was immediately cited as the cause.

Two of the killed men were cousins, Tumello Kobile and Pali Kobile, while the others were Lebese Molemela and Tšukulu Ramabusa.

The Kobile cousins and Molemela were Ha-’Mantšebo residents while Ramabusa was from a nearby Ha-Mpo village.

Pali Kobile’s father, Motsekinyane Kobile, told thepost that his son and nephew were targets of a vengeful famo gang after they intervened last year when the gang wanted to kill one of the villagers.

Saddened with the endless killings between the warring gangs, Minister Tampane told parliament that the government condemned the famo fights.

As Tourism Minister Tampane is tasked with promoting Basotho’s culture, art including the very same famo music whose singers and followers are killing each other.

Famo gangs, which started as informal funeral associations for poor famo singers and fans, have wreaked havoc in many families especially in the southern districts of the country.

For the past 10 years, tens of men have been killed in famo associated attacks.

The most vocal gang is Seakhi, a group known to be from Thabana-morena in Mafeteng district and Taung in Mohale’s Hoek which is identified by a black or red letlama blanket.

This group has since split into two, with Thabana-morena men wearing the black letlama while the Taung men wear the red one.

These have started killing each other, at least from last winter.

Since then Taung has buried at least seven men who were shot dead.

Another gang is Terene, which is based in Bloemfontein in South Africa.

This gang has for over ten years fought a bloody war with Seakhi and many singers and fans have been killed.

The fight intensified after the death of Seakhi leader and founder, Rantšo Makepe, later an artiste known as Morena Seoa and in 2010 a man they referred to as the “deity of Bloem” Daniel Rampipi who was the unifying factor within the Seakhi gang.

Both Lesotho and South African governments have in the past tried to mediate between the warring gangs but in vain.

The Thabana-morena MP, Minister Selibe Mochoboroane, had little success when he coaxed leaders of the gangs sign a peace accord but peace never reigned as fans from both sides continued to be killed.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Molobeli Soulo, also has had a hand in trying to help the two warring sides strike peace deals but his success was short-lived as members from each gang continued to be shot dead.

The Principal Chief of Likhoele, Chief Lerotholi Seeiso, also tried but failed to stem the killings.

The first to fully engage himself in trying to unite the famo gangsters between 2005 and 2013 was former premier Thomas Thabane.

Tampane told Parliament that cabinet has formed a sub-committee of ministers to deal with the famo gangster-ism.

The sub-committee is chaired by the Police Minister Monyane Moleleki while members are Tampane, Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi, deputy Home Affairs Minister Phallang Monare and Law Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa.

Among them, Monare, who is also a chief, is directly affected as men from his Taung constituency have been killed for wearing the red letlama blankets.

“As the government, we warn the perpetrators of these heinous acts that we will not tolerate it anymore,” Tampane said.

“It is so sad that the famo music and the blankets, the very culture that identify us, have turned into a spear that continues to pierce our hearts,” she said.

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