Moleleki pleads for peace

Moleleki pleads for peace

MASERU-NESTLED on the border between Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek district is Taung, a rugged desert-like settlement about 120km south of the capital Maseru.
Under the scorching November heat, there is a sense of exasperation from villagers who are still waiting for the first rains to plant crops.
Successive years of drought have seen villagers harvesting very little from their fields over the years.

When crops failed, the men migrated to Lesotho’s more prosperous neighbour, South Africa, to work in the mines.
Sadly, the culture of gang violence, fuelled by disputes between rival famo music gangs, in the mines has often been exported back home, with bitter consequences for Basotho.
Taung is among villages that have suffered most from the violent gang wars. That is perhaps because the village is close to Thabana-Morena, a constituency that is a stronghold of the Seakhi group.
In a bid to enforce its hegemony, the Seakhi group broods “no nonsense”, wiping out all rivals who belong to the Terene group.
The violence in Taung has reached crisis levels. Hundreds of famo musicians and their close family members have been killed over the last 10 years.
Some people have even left the village as the killings spiralled out of control.

Homes have been torched in the night as famo gangsters turned guns and knives on each other. Most of the illegal guns find their way from the mines in South Africa, according to Lesotho police.
Last weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki was in Taung where he spoke passionately against the famo gang violence.
Moleleki was addressing a campaign rally for his Alliance of Democrats (AD) party which saw 200 new members join the party.
Moleleki called on all players in the famo music genre to put a halt to the killings.
“I am yearning for peace,” he said.

“I love Terene, I love Seakhi, I love Phula-Bobete. I love all these famo gangs with their attire,” he said.
Seakhi and Terene are two rival famo music gangs that do not see eye-to-eye.

While their differences are essentially musical, the gangs are also entangled in Lesotho’s toxic politics with Seakhi backing the “congress parties” – the Democratic Congress and its political allies such the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the Movement for Economic Change.

Terene, with its bright yellow colours, is associated with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
Moleleki said it was time to stop the killings and promote peace, urging the music gangs to drop their provocative lyrics that incite violence.
He said he once visited Matelile to speak to the Principal Chief Seeiso Moholobela in an attempt to stop the violence.
Moleleki said he also spoke to the Principal Chief of Likhoele, Chief Lerotholi Seeiso, asking them to intervene and stop the killings.
Matelile is the home of Terene which is led by Rethabile Mokete alias Mosotho Chakela.

“That should stop because it separates the Basotho nation,” Moleleki said.
He said he hoped that he will be able to one day sit down with the rival gangs and smoke the peace pipe.
Seakhi is known to be from Thabana-Morena in Mafeteng district and Taung in Mohale’s Hoek and 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.

The two factions of Seakhi started killing each other over 10 years ago.
The Terene gang is based in Bloemfontein in South Africa but has its roots in Matelile.
This gang has for years fought a bloody war with Seakhi and both singers and fans have been caught up in the violence.

The fight intensified after the death of Seakhi leader and founder, Rantšo Makepe.
In 2010, a man who was referred to as the “Deity of Bloem” Daniel Rampipi who was a unifying figure within the Seakhi gang, was gunned down in Mafeteng town.
Both the Lesotho and South African governments have in the past tried to mediate between the warring gangs but all peacemaking effort has been in vain.

Majara Molupe

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