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Three gunned down in mistaken identity

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MASERU – THEY came for him twice. And during the two attacks, they shot and killed three of his relatives thinking they had got their man.

During that whole ordeal, Litumeliso Toi, a Seakhi famo musician popularly known as Makhotsa, somehow survived.

On April 13, the police say, his brother Leboneng Toi arrived home from South Africa where he was working in the mines and noticed that the family cattle had been let loose at night.

The family says he put his luggage down and went to drive back the cattle into the enclosure. While busy driving the cattle into the kraal, the assailants who were hiding in the cover of darkness shot him, thinking they were killing Litumeliso.

“We suspect their target was Makhotsa (the singer),” a family member said.

Last Friday night, two other relatives who had come to attend the night vigil for Leboneng Toi were also gunned down just after they arrived at the venue of mourning.

Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said it is suspected that the killers were still hunting the musician when they murdered the two cousins.

He said after the two men had put their luggage in the house and left to buy airtime at a nearby shop in their village of Makeneng in Likhoele Mafeteng, they were sprayed with bullets.

The attackers then fled.

Police in Mafeteng say they have identified the suspects as famo music artists in the district who had skipped the country for South Africa.

“Leboneng Toi was not connected to the famo music differences rocking the country,” a family member said.

Police sources in the district said their preliminary investigations have shown that Litumeliso is in a fight with another faction of Seakhi.

Litumeliso who is being hunted day in and day out is reported to have told his rivals in music lyrics that they should lay off their hands from his brother because he was not connected to famo differences.

The suspects are said to be Litumeliso’s distant cousins who have joined a rival famo gang.

On the night that the two brothers were killed, two men are said to have come to the night vigil pretending to be mourners.

Then they descended on the two brothers with an avalanche of bullets hoping that one of them was Litumeliso.

Still, they missed their target and killed the innocent souls.

After being shot, the men were rushed to Scott Hospital in Morija, some 46 kilometres from the scene of the crime.

They were confirmed dead upon their arrival.

Meanwhile, in Matelile Ha-Koepe in the same district, two unknown gun-toting men sprayed a shack with bullets but no one died.

Within a few minutes a business woman was gunned down in the neighbouring village of Ha-’Maliepetsane.

Mafeteng police said they have arrested two men who are suspected to have killed the businesswoman in Ha-’Maliepetsane.

The suspects appeared in court this week and were charged with murder.

Army spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, said a battalion was dispatched to Matelile to search for perpetrators behind the rampant killings.

He said they visited the villages of Ha-Koepe and Ha-Ngoan’a Khare where they were able to confiscate four illegal firearms.

The army confiscated two 9mms, 7.65mm and .38 pistols from four people.

The ’Maliepetsane MP, Lehlohonolo Hlapisi, said he had moved a motion in parliament seeking a review of the Internal Security Act.

“This Act was enacted in 1966 and it is too old and has to be reviewed,” Hlapisi said.

“We need a law that will help control these murders,” Hlapisi said, adding that the provision of bail for murderers should be reviewed.

Hlapisi, a Democratic Congress (DC) MP, said they had engaged security agencies and church leaders to help combat the killings but all efforts have failed.

“The major cause of the killings is the famo gang groups which are bringing the country into disrepute and lawlessness.”

Hlapisi said Basotho gangsters in South Africa send money to their families by hand, trusting that their fellow gangsters would deliver it.

When they do not deliver the money to their families, the punishment is death.

“They usually hunt those who have used their money,” Hlapisi said. “If they don’t find them at home, they kill their family members,” he said.

Majara Molupe

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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