Have we lost war on guns?

Have we lost war on guns?

THREE weeks ago, ’Mabuang Mazenyo, 67, was shot and killed at the BNP elective conference in Mazenod.
Mazenyo was not sick when she died. She was a victim of the notorious gun culture in Lesotho that has seen thousands sent packing to their early graves.

Last weekend, Mazenyo was buried at a sombre ceremony attended by party leaders. Sadly, her burial will likely mark the end the story if the way the police have dealt with other previous high profile murders is anything to go by.
Three weeks after her murder, there have no arrests. We doubt if there will be any.

Five weeks ago, an MP for the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) in Mafeteng, Thabo Ramatla, was also shot, but thankfully survived.
No arrests have been made, yet.
The deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Chakela, was shot and killed in a case that has remained unresolved a decade later.
There have been many others, too numerous to mention here, who were also gunned down in Lesotho, with no arrests being made. Their killers continue to freely roam the streets.

That’s what makes this whole subject scary. The lack of accountability is frightening.
From the cases cited above, it would be extremely difficult for the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to argue that they have this matter under control.
Of course, the police will argue that they do not conduct their investigations in the media and that “investigations are in progress”.
That would be an extremely lazy defence.

What the public wants is to see is real progress in prosecuting murder cases. Until we have the murderers being arraigned before the courts and sentenced to long jail terms, the police open themselves to scorn and ridicule that they are not doing enough to stamp out violent crime, particularly gun violence.
It would also appear that we have extremely lax gun laws in Lesotho. Our extremely porous borders have allowed illegal guns to be smuggled into the country where they are often put to devastating effect in settling old scores.
The attempts by the police to seize the illegal guns have been feeble at most, resulting in thousands of guns being left in the hands of people who should never be anywhere near such weapons.

The fines imposed by the courts for possessing illegal guns have been mere slaps on the wrists of the offenders.
The police have simply lost the war on illegal guns. We doubt if any background checks are still being enforced before anyone can buy a gun in Lesotho.
Sometimes, the police embark on campaigns to seize guns. A few guns are collected which is then followed by public relations stunts of burning them. Time and time again, that has failed to yield long-term results.
What Lesotho needs is a total overhaul of our gun culture. That should start with a tightening of the laws around the ownership and possession of guns.

We need tighter vetting of who can legally own a gun. We need to seize and destroy all illegal guns.
That might be difficult given our porous borders.
However, those who are caught with illegal guns must be sentenced to long prison terms. We must make it extremely unattractive to break the law on guns.
Others have sought guns for self-protection because they have no confidence in the security services. We need to restore their trust in the capacity of the police to protect them.

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