Violent protest over speed hump

Violent protest over speed hump

HA-TOLOANE – THREE villagers were badly injured on Sunday when the police fired rubber bullets at an angry crowd that had blocked a road in Ha-Toloane.
Villagers said one of the victims was riddled with five pellets while two others received one each.
They were rushed to Scott Hospital in nearby Morija.

The Ha-Toloane villagers took to the streets from last Saturday until Monday this week blocking the Main South One Road with huge boulders.
They were protesting against a spate of accidents which they say have claimed at least six people this year alone and nine since 2013.
The villagers want the Ministry of Public Works to build speed humps on the road. They said speeding cars are becoming a menace as the road passes through the village.

Just last Friday, a 54-year-old man was killed in a hit and run accident.
The protests turned tense on Monday when police ordered protesters to remove the rocks from the road. All hell broke loose when the protesters refused to comply with the order.
The Area Chief of Boriba, under whose jurisdiction Ha-Toloane falls, the 70-year-old Chief Rantšo Mosehle, told thepost that he was in a bar by the road when the drama began to unfold on Monday.
Chief Mosehle said heavily armed police stormed the bar and ordered every man in there to go to the road to clear it of the rocks.
“Our bottles of beer sadly spilled out on the ground while the police shoved us, forcing us to go to the road,” the Chief said.
“It was embarrassing when elders like me were pulled and pushed by such young men who showed no shame or remorse even when they heard that I am a chief,” he said.

Chief Mosehle said he refused to clear the road.
“They shoved me harder, pushing me to the ground and injuring me,” he said.
While this was happening, other police officers were shooting rubber bullets at the protesters and using teargas to disperse them after it became clear that the villagers would not remove the rocks from the road.
Lekholo Maphathe, the councillor of Ha-Toloane, described it as a “sad sight”.
“One of the victims was shot five times while in his yard,” Maphathe said.
Boys herding livestock nearby were not spared the wrath of the police as they too were ordered to leave their livestock to clear the road.
The villagers said protests are the only effective way to get the ear of governing authorities after families continued losing relatives and livestock to road accidents.

At the nearby Morija, nine people are said to be victims of road accidents because of lack of speed humps.
“How many have to die before the government decides to build speed humps?” a villager asked.
“We will not stand here and watch our people die and children be paralysed all because you will not allow us to protest,” said Molefi Mosehle, one of the villagers.
Molefi was addressing the Maseru Rural commander, Senior Superintendent

’Malichaba Talasi, who came to address the villagers hours later after the commanding officer of Morija police station failed.
“We were told that one hump costs over half a million maloti. Is half a million costlier than the lives we have lost on this road?” Molefi asked.
Molefi said children crossing the road to go to school, old people crossing to get water from the village tap and there is livestock crossing to grazing lands or the river were all at risk.

“We will contribute with cement if the government needs help because we cannot keep burying people over the reckless driving that happens daily on this road,” Molefi said.

S/ Supt. Talasi said the road is a public road and it becomes a crime when the villagers restrict the free flow of traffic for other people.
“Is it not a crime that the government keeps on lying to us that it will construct speed humps but does not?” one villager responded.
“If you want to stop crime go on and ask the Minister of Police to talk to the Minister of Public Works and Transport to put up speed humps here because you are not only dealing with us the protesters but the people causing these accidents.”

The villagers were not taking any of the police orders.
“Call the relevant people here and those are the ones that we shall listen to, you are of no help,” shouted another.
The police allegedly said they could not attend to the hit and run accident that happened on Friday when the villagers called because there was no car and officers to attend the scene.

The villagers were instructed to carry the corpse to the hospital while they waited for the police to arrive.
The villagers told S/Supt. Talasi that even her traffic cops fail to stop speeding cars when they are on road blocks. Several police officers nodded as the villager spoke.
“If drivers have no shame of speeding in that manner that they cannot stop at a road block then how can we control the accidents that happen here?” another villager shouted.

Chieftainess ’Mamahasoa Toloane, the chief of Ha-Toloane, said they had a meeting in June with the police commander of Morija, the Minister of Public Works Prince Maliehe, the MP for Matsieng and the village development committee after the villagers erected their own humps on the road.
“We were promised that in three weeks the humps would be constructed but only one was constructed,” Chieftainess Toloane said.
“Yesterday we lost yet another life,” she said.

Chieftainess Toloane said she was told on Saturday morning that there was a community gathering, but she was unaware of the convener of the meeting.
When she arrived at the community gathering she was asked to desist from taking active part because the gathering was called by the villagers themselves.
“They were angry and they said they were tired of promises unfulfilled by the government and they had to do something about it,” she said.
“I did not know that the plan was to block the road.”
Prince Maliehe, Minister of Public Works, together with the Matsieng MP ’Matšepo Ramakoae, went to Ha-Toloane on Monday and promised the villagers that the government would construct three speed humps in seven days.

’Makeketsi Pulumo, a villager, told thepost that they were tired of road accident deaths in the area.
“Come what may, we will fight for our rights. The police do not scare us. Every day when we have a crisis the police delay to attend but when they are on road blocks getting bribes they use their cars. Why can’t they use their personal cars to attend to an emergency?” Pulumo said.
“All we want are humps, what is the problem with that?” Pulumo asked.

Rose Moremoholo

 

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