Minister bans ‘famo blankets’

Minister bans ‘famo blankets’

MASERU – FIVE people were killed in famo music gang wars in Mokhotlong this week, bringing the total to 15 in just six months.
A police sergeant was killed last week while eight others were murdered and their houses and cars torched about six months ago.
The resurgent killings have spooked the government that has in the past tried to clamp down on the murders by deploying a combined team of the police and the army.

This week, an exasperated Police Minister Lepota Sekola tried to implement desperate measures to stop the killings. He banned the wearing of certain blankets associated with famo gangs in Mokhotlong district.
Sekola has been in Mokhotlong since Monday trying to talk to the people to stop the killings and to convince young men not to join the gangs.
Sekola said when he arrived at Mokhotlong police station on Tuesday he found eight suspects from three different famo gangs who had been arrested.

“Amongst them were members of Terene, Seakhi, and Khang-Kholo,” Sekola told thepost.
He also said he found out that the two fighting factions were Khang-Kholo and Seakhi.
“They pleaded to meet with me and I did, they asked for peace,” Sekola said.
Sekola said he told the men that he had been wondering how they thought they would win against the government that has unlimited resources.
“How would they beat us?” he said.
He said he is visiting various villages in the district holding public gatherings talking about the issue of the killings.

He added that they will soon collaborate with the South African police to curb the killings because the same gangs are present in both countries.
He also said recently there were attacks in Mokhotlong where Khang-Kholo members were shot and a lot of fighting happened.
“In Matsoku, three people were killed because of the same issue of gangs recently,” he said.
He said the gangs applauded him for fighting the killings and asked for peace.

Sekola’s desperate measures to ban the wearing of blankets associated with the gangs is similar to the one former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane took between 2012 and 2014 in Mafeteng when faced with similar problems.
He banned blankets, the wearing of certain brands of clothing such as shiny leather jackets called pointers, Brenthood trousers and others in an effort to counter the crime.
He appointed Minister Molobeli Soulo to lead a combined team of the police and the army, known as the Counter Crime Unit, to uproot gangsterism in Mafeteng.

Thabane failed dismally because a lot of politicians across all major parties including his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) joined the gangs and appointed gangsters as their bodyguards.
The leaders of these gangs have for years identified themselves with political parties and are given platforms to address party members at rallies.

This week Sekola said he was worried that security agents were being embroiled in the gangsters’ fights.
Sekola said “the police are aware that some of the perpetrators of the illegal acts are members of the security agencies in the country”.
“And to them, I advise them to refrain from their behaviour or they should step aside and vacate the security agencies. Those who have ears must listen,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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