Four Basotho  women shot dead

Four Basotho women shot dead

MASERU – FOUR Basotho women were shot dead in Benoni, South Africa, last Thursday while two others survived the shooting.
The women are relatives of nine Basotho men who were working as illegal miners in South Africa whose decomposing bodies were found at a closed mine in Benoni on January 14.

Police say the women were from Lesotho and had gone there to make arrangements for the repatriation of their dead relatives to Lesotho for burial.
Colonel Lungelo Dlamini of the South African Police Service said the women were inside a corrugated iron shack when two men whose faces were covered stormed in and started shooting indiscriminately.

One of the women who survived was breastfeeding her baby when the men attacked.
Dlamini said they suspect the killings are related to gang violence that has plagued nearly all mining towns in South Africa, fuelled by illegal mining.
Illegal miners, called zama-zamas in South Africa, are known for fierce fights that have terrorised mining towns.
“It is not clear as to when the men were killed,” Dlamini said.

“No arrests have been made so far but we have intensified our investigations to bring the suspects to book,” he said.
“We are working round the clock to ensure that those involved will face the long arm of the law.”
An official from the Lesotho consulate in Gauteng, Vuyani Tyhali, said seven bodies were found dumped at the closed mine in Benoni while two other decomposing bodies were dumped at one informal settlement around the closed mines.

Tyhali said the police reports confirmed that all the bodies were shot, as they were found with gunshot wounds.
He said all the deceased were identified as residents of Matsieng, some 40 kilometres south of Maseru.

One of the dead men was a suspect in the killings of 14 Basotho illegal miners which occurred in the same area earlier last year.
The bodies of the deceased were found with bullet wounds and wounds from sharp objects.
The dead men were all from Ha-Mokhalinyane in Rothe constituency.

Dlamini said they are stunned by the killings. He said they are deeply concerned by the incessant killings of Basotho from Lesotho over the closed mines.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lesego Makgothi, said the incidents had been reported to the Prime Minister’s Office.
He said after the post mortem, four decomposing bodies were brought to Lesotho with the assistance of their family members.
“The bodies were in a bad state and I think their family members wanted to bury them,” Makgothi said.

He said one family member claimed one body and decided to bury it in South Africa to avoid high costs.
The minister said they would hear from their consulate office in South Africa by tomorrow if they could extend a helping hand for the remaining bodies.

Makgothi said they have discovered that the deceased had their own settlement in Benoni which had been given a Sesotho name, Mahloenyeng.
Mahloenyeng is a village in Matsieng where the murdered men and women were from.
He said the settlement has its own chief.

Though investigations are still in progress, Makgothi said preliminary investigations have revealed that the killings are connected with the murder of 14 illegal Basotho gold diggers early last year.

Majara Molupe

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