MASERU — A businessman had to run for his life on Sunday after some villagers from Koalabata pelted his house with stones because they suspected he was responsible for the gruesome murder of a 13-year-old old boy.
The villagers suspect that the businessman is linked to the murder of Moholobela Seetsa whose mutilated body was discovered in a shallow grave in a valley near his home.
There is suspicion that the boy could have been murdered for ritual purposes.
Fearing for their lives, the businessman and his family fled the village.
This paper has withheld the businessman’s name because he is not on the police’s list of suspects.
His safety and that of his family has also been considered in the decision to withhold his identity.
An angry mob descended on the businessman’s house on Sunday afternoon after a village meeting to discuss Moholobela’s death.
Singing protest songs, the mob started pelting the businessman’s house with stones.
Witnesses said some villagers tried to burn the house by setting its curtains on fire.
The businessman’s family however managed to put out the fire before the police rescued them from the angry mob.
Senior police superintendent Tšeliso Tšita confirmed the incident and said that after the attack they took the businessman into protective custody.
Tšita also confirmed that some villagers had reported that the businessman could be linked to Moholobela’s murder.
The villagers, Tšita said, had also reported that the businessman was linked to other murders that have never been reported.
Moholobela’s body was found in pieces two weeks ago in a valley not far from his home. Its head, feet, hands, genitals and heart were missing.
The rest of the body parts, except the heart and genitals, were later found buried on the same area where the body was discovered.
Yesterday hundreds of villagers marched to the police headquarters in Maseru to meet the police commissioner.
The villagers demanded that the police expedite investigations in Moholobela’s murder.
They were met by acting police commissioner, Kizito Mhlakaza, who promised the police were doing all they could to solve the case.
In a letter submitted to Mhlakaza, the villagers said they “are not happy with the lack of interest by the police when Moholobela Seetsa’s death was announced”.
“We request that the police commissioner increase the number of officers investigating this murder. There should be adequate transport to do that,” the villagers said.
They added that they were now living in fear after Seetsa’s murder.
“Our children are terrified. They are not free. We can no longer send them around the village because they are scared.
“Please find our child’s murderer so that we do not end fighting one another.”
Tšita said the police had received reports from the villagers since the boy was reported missing that they suspected the businessman’s involvement in the murder.
He said that the man was brought in for questioning. His house was also checked but Tšita said no evidence was found to link him to the murder.
“The public has always alleged that the man was responsible for the death of the boy but the police have not found any evidence to link the alleged suspect to the murder. The public was wrong to attack the man.”
Tšita said a case of malicious damage to property had been opened.
The villagers said they hope the demonstration will put pressure on the police to arrest the businessman.
“We have a suspect. We have informed the police about our suspicion but no arrest has been made. All fingers are pointing at one person,” a female villager who refused to be named said.
“We are angry,” said another villager.
“We feel so belittled by the devil who just grabbed our child in our midst and slaughtered him like an animal. Whoever did this must pay. His blood (Moholobela) will haunt them forever.
“He (the suspect) is still within us. Who knows what he is planning as we speak? We have to keep watchful eyes on the children all the time. That is not normal,” said a male villager.
“We want to help Seetsa’s family in any way we can. Their child’s murder is not just their pain. It is ours as well. We will support them all the way.”
Police spokesperson senior inspector Masupha Masupha said no arrests have been made but added that investigations were continuing.
Some villagers have contributed money towards Moholobela’s funeral.