Emotional send-off for Manyai

Emotional send-off for Manyai

MAPUTSOE-Almost in tears, Ntsala Theoha last Saturday stood in front of his daughter’s coffin who was gang-raped and murdered three weeks ago.

Seeming shaken and uneasy, he paced up and down as his daughter’s body lay motionless in a coffin at a local football ground before burial at the Maputsoe Ha-Nyenye cemetery.

The grieving father had to leave the podium quickly before he could break down in full view of the public.

A Mosotho man does not cry in front of women no matter how hurt he feels, so goes the old adage.

His speech was very short, mainly based on the Bible.
He quoted Jesus Christ’s famous invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

His only daughter, Manyai Theoha, 20, was attacked at her rented house in Qoaling, Maseru, where her door was broken with a sharp object.

Her lifeless body was found in the morning of June 6 lying in a pool of blood metres away from where she stayed.

Neighbours said they heard her screaming two times during the night and thereafter there was silence.

“It breaks my heart to see my daughter in the coffin. I expected big things from her. But God took her from me in a painful way,” he said.
“I am pained that one of the suspects is out on bail,” Theoha lamented, referring to a man rescued by the police from an angry mob on the day Manyai’s body was found.

“I wish he was denied bail,” Theoha said.
However, police spokesman Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli told thepost that the man has not been charged and was released due to lack of evidence.

The angry Qoaling residents burnt two other suspects to death on the same day.
Her cousin, Rethabile Mohonyane, said those who murdered Manyai deserved to be killed as well.

A superstitious Mosotho man, Mohonyane called on his cousin “not to rest in her grave but to rise up and fight back”.
“We should go back to dealing with things our traditional way,” Mohonyane said.
Another relative, Sekake Lejaha, said he wished the police had left the Qoaling mob to murder all the suspects instead of rescuing the third suspect.

“He should have got what he deserved,” Lejaha said.
He urged the government to deal with the rising number of murders caused by knives and guns.

“This has to be dealt with urgently. Basotho need peace,” he said.
A family friend, Fani Sekoati, said the announcement of her death was “the saddest I have ever heard in my life”.

Sekoati said his daughter, who was Manyai’s close friend, suffered a heart attack which caused shortness of breath when she heard the sad news.
“If we, all her friends, knew she was not safe, we would have been there. We all feel so guilty that we were not there and it hurts so much,” Sekoati said.

He described Manyai as a lover of nature and a peaceful person who always sang whenever she was happy.
“I never imagined coming to her home to bury her.”
Another friend, Morie Thoahlane, posed a question: “Men, what are we going to do to ensure that women trust us? I want to maintain that not all of us have bad intentions towards them – they should see us as their brothers,” he said.

He said lately a lot of women were appearing in videos on social media saying they fear for their lives.
“Manyai’s death should be a lesson to all men and the government as well that justice should be served and laws should be tightened.”

As the Roman Catholic Church sang “I trust in you, Oh the Virgin” in Sesotho, there were sighs among the mourners. Her classmates and lecturers said they were saddened by her death.

She was described as a determined, hardworking student.
Tšoloane Thahanyane, the Lerotholi Polytechnic Student Representative Council (SRC)’s president, said it pained him to hear that the alleged perpetrator is roaming the streets already.
“We are not satisfied and we want this matter to be treated differently,” he said.

He said the country fails them as youths.
The National University of Lesotho SRC secretary, Thabiso Senyotong, said it is not laws that will halt criminal offences “but our behaviour”.

“We need to cultivate a good behavioural culture amongst ourselves because right now we are a sick society as Basotho,” Senyotong said.
The Education Deputy Minister, ’Mamookho Phiri, described Manyai Theoha’s death as a painful loss.

She said as a mother to three daughters, this is so painful.
“We don’t trust men,” said Phiri.
Phiri called on the government to exercise its powers to impose the death penalty on murderers.

Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, said the government has to restore Basotho’s trust.
He said speeches without action are meaningless.
“We will try with all our power to do the right thing and we believe our strategies to eradicate crime will work,” said the minister.

Lentša Taelo of Khotla Lesotho, an association of men committed to rooting out gender-based crime in the country, linked the killing to gangsterism.
He said gangsters identify themselves with code numbers such as 28.
“Their job is to rape and kill,” Taelo said.

’Mapule Motsopa

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