Soldiers go on  rampage in Quthing

Soldiers go on rampage in Quthing

QUTHING – TWO soldiers went on a violent rampage that left one person dead and 27 injured in Quthing after a Christmas-eve brawl that has further tainted the army’s reputation.
The soldiers were part of a military team that is permanently assigned to patrol the border between South Africa and Lesotho in Quthing to curb rampant stock theft.

But instead of catching rustlers and protecting livestock one of them left his team to have a drink at a bar in Ha Peete in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
The army says a fight then broke out among some of the revellers.

The soldier, the army’s public relations office says, tried to stop the fight but was caught in the crossfire and “badly injured”.
LDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mashili Mashili said the soldier then rushed to the base to call colleagues to help him.
He came back with one colleague with whom he unleashed vengeance on the revelers.

Lt Col Mashili said a shot allegedly fired by one of the soldiers killed one of the patrons.
He said out of 27 injured civilians, one was transferred to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital while others were treated as outpatients at Quthing Hospital.
The spokesperson said the army is worried about the increase in the cases of soldiers involved in crime.

In this case, he said, the soldiers were not on duty but had no business being at the bar at that time.
Lt Col Mashili said most of the cases involve young soldiers.

He said the two soldiers will face disciplinary action but did not specify the charges.
The councillor of Ha Makoae, Sekeka Mosala, said “it is common for the soldiers (at the makeshift base) to fight with civilians over women”.
Mosala said the community is now living in terror following the incident.

Over the years the army has earned a dubious distinction of being a force teeming with rogue elements that are trigger-happy and wont to commit violent crimes.
The army has also been successfully sued for torture and wrongful death.

Army bosses say they are working to improve relations with the communities but the incident in Quthing shows that they need to redouble their efforts.

Staff Reporter

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