Mourners beaten up

Mourners beaten up

MASERU- A JOINT Mafeteng police and army team beat up some mourners on their way to a funeral service of a taxi operator following comments deemed disrespectful by the security agents.

The incident took place last Sunday as mourners tried to get past a road block mounted to search for weapons from people going to mourn taxi operator Motau Thulo.
The mourners were in a convoy transporting people from Tša-Litlama, just five kilometres from Mafeteng town to Ha-Khojane, which is about 20 kilometres from the town.

Ha-Khojane is Thulo’s childhood home, although he was now staying in Tša-Litlama.
There was a separate funeral service which was conducted at his Tša-Litlama home before mourners travelled to Ha-Khojane for the burial.

Along the route was a heavy deployment of security agents armed with rifles.
All hell broke loose when a group of young men and a few elderly ones who were packed in the back of a truck uttered statements deemed as disrespectful to the police, oblivious that the officers, who were within earshot, would overhear the conversations.

One of the men in the truck was overheard saying: “Ba se ba le teng batho bana”, loosely translated to “it’s these police again.”

As the police ordered the group out of the truck, another man from the group said: “Rea theoha banna” (We are stepping out you men). The utterances seemed to have infuriated the police.
Calling out someone in authority or an elder banna is viewed as disrespectful in Sesotho culture. The security agents ordered the men to roll on the gravel road several times while enduring beatings at the same time.

Only elderly members of the group were spared the ordeal, which lasted a couple of minutes.
When members of the group refused to identify the so-called culprits, the beatings intensified.
“They hit me on the cheek with a butt,” one man from the crowd said.
“They also beat me on the ribs with a lebetlela, (wooden fighting stick),” he said.

Several of the men had their elbows bruised, their bodies enmeshed in dust and their clothes splattered with blood.
Meanwhile, a woman who was taking a video of a convoy of cars from Mafeteng to Ha-Khojane was also made to roll on the road.

The heavily armed security agents denied the mourners any chance to sing makhele (self-praise men’s traditional songs eulogising violence).

The deceased’s wife, ‘Makarabo Thulo, read a poem for her husband sitting on a mattress.
It is uncommon and against culture for Basotho women to speak at the funeral services of their husbands.
‘Makarabo said her husband was a pillar of strength in their family.
She said they would soldier on from where her husband had left.

Forcing back her tears, ‘Makarabo said her husband has now rested in eternal peace.
She said the betrayers of her husband are happy that he is no more.
When the body of Motau was lowered into the grave, ’Makarabo burst into tears and wept inconsolably.

Majara Molupe

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