Violent crimes on the rise

Violent crimes on the rise

MASERU – THE killing of Pastor Francois Snyman has robbed the Semonkong community of a farming mentor, financial donor and a friend.
Pastor Snyman was killed in an armed robbery two weeks ago.
Pastor Snyman’s house was attacked at night by unidentified men who shot him before demanding money from his shocked wife, Mariette.
Pastor Snyman, a citizen of South Africa, was proselytising in the communities of Semonkong villages where he was also training people on farming.

The pastor was also helping some poor children with school fees and other basic needs.
Many villagers regarded him as one of them.
The pastor’s family had started a vegetable garden at a local school where it taught children how to grow their own crops.
The small project expanded and adults also joined the training programme, resulting in Semonkong transforming into a hub for vegetable farming.

Under his Harvesters Ministries Church, Pastor Snyman managed to spread the Word of God to other villages and established small self-help projects there.
His death came as a shock to community members.
Police say the pastor was watching TV with his family in the living room when the robbers attacked.
Police said the wife was forced to surrender M2 500, a lap-top and four cell phones to the attackers.

“The criminals fatally shot the deceased and fled the scene,” deputy police spokesperson Sub-Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka said.
Teboho Sekata, an MP for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCd) who is also from the same area, said Pastor Snyman’s death has shocked the entire community of Semonkong.
“We knew him as a peace-loving man, a teacher of God’s Word and a dedicated farmer who shared his farming techniques with villagers,” Sekata said.

“I am dumb-struck, hurt and dispirited by this murder,” he said.
Pastor Snyman was cremated in Bloemfontein last week.
Authorities say they are worried about cases of armed robberies.
Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) MP ’Malerato Thamae was attacked by five men at her home in Mahlabatheng last month.
Narrating the ordeal, Thamae said she heard her daughter shouting in the middle of the night in despair on the fateful day.
She met a group of men with their faces covered in balaclavas inside her house when she woke up to check out the noise.

“They were asking my daughter to show them my room,” Thamae said.
She said blood was oozing from her daughter’s head. She said the men demanded money from her at gunpoint.
“The men told me to give them the money that they claimed I flaunt. They told me that they were going to kill me if I did not give them the money,” recalled Thamae. “But l told them that I did not have any money in the house.”

The men robbed her of cash that was in the house, a TV set, car keys, a radio and a mat.
Thamae said two of the suspects later handed themselves over at Roma police and confessed to the police. Thamae informed parliament about the incident.
Two of the suspects have already appeared in court and were remanded in custody.

Deputy police spokesperson Sub-Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka expressed concern about robberies and associated killings, but said cases of armed robberies “are not escalating”.
To address the problem, police are holding public gatherings to sensitise people about the danger of illegal firearms.
She said they also hold radio programmes to talk to the people about guns.
In September police called on people with illegal firearms to hand them over without fear of being arrested.

The police have not compiled statistics of those who voluntarily handed over their guns.
“There is no charge pressed against the people who voluntarily give back the guns,” Sub-Insp Mofoka said.
For her, lack of resources, especially cars, is what frustrates police to respond to the crime incidents on time.
Minister of Defence, Halebonoe Setšabi, said the military is helping the police to curb crime in the country to prevent Lesotho degenerating into a state of anarchy.

Setšabi said they have deployed soldiers to crime hotspots so that they help police to curb the crime.
He said there is significant progress in their fight against crime in the country.
“If you look at the LDF Facebook page, you can see what we are doing,” the minister said.
“Our duty is to arrest criminals and hand them over to the police,” Setšabi said.

Criminals have not spared law enforcement agencies either. Mafeteng Police station’s armoury lost 75 guns last week. A police officer and several other people have been arrested in connection with the crime.
Sub-Insp Mofoka said a special team has been set up to investigate how the guns went missing.
Barely two days following the disappearance of the guns in Mafeteng, Hlotse police station was also targeted, although nothing was stolen.
In another incident, Private Thabang Pata of the Lesotho Defence Force was gunned down by unknown people in Ha-Tsolo three weeks ago. His rifle was taken by the criminals.

Police said the criminals stormed into the business premises of the deceased, ordered people in the building to lie down before searching them and taking phones that had M-Pesa.
The wife of the deceased phoned him telling him what had happened. The deceased hurried to his home and tried to follow the criminals. Unfortunately, the criminals waylaid the soldier and shot him dead. He was buried last week.
The perpetrators have not been found together with the guns.
Army spokesperson Captain Sakeng Lekola said they would help the police recover the gun and arrest the criminals.

In March this year, a guard was shot dead at a Chinese shop along Kingsway. Another guard died in the line of duty when some gunmen robbed a butchery in Maseru sometime this year.
Meanwhile, burglars broke into Game Store earlier this year and stole goods worth about M167 000.
Police spokesman senior superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said preliminary investigations indicate that the burglars entered the shop at Maseru Mall through the roof.

The stolen property included new laptops, cell phones and cigarettes.
A locally-owned Basotho enterprise, Enrich Store, was robbed of cash in February this year.
A local journalist, ’Marafaele Mohloboli said her home was attacked by unknown gun-toting men on Tuesday who stormed her house and demanded money at gunpoint. She said her husband was injured by the criminals.
Earlier this year armed thugs killed a Chinese businessman and a medical doctor in Mafeteng.

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said the killing of the doctor in Mafeteng, followed by that of another Chinese man at the Maseru Mall, highlighted how armed robberies have become a worrying trend.
“The crime is worrying in the country as those who commit it are armed with illegal firearms,” Majoro said, then.
The then Police Minister ’Mamoipone Senauoane said the government had established a body made up of police, correctional services workers and the army to eradicate crime.

She said crime was a big concern for the government.
She said the unit would effectively deal with the robbers because “now we have helicopters, which would be used to eradicate and stop crime”.
There are no statistics of armed robberies in the country but crimes using guns are reported in the media every day in Lesotho.
International surveillance organisations have declared Lesotho as a dangerous country, ranking number six in the world in murder cases.

Majara Molupe

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