Accept my belated Happy New Year greetings to all Basotho. I wish this nation a successful 2018 and a restoration of political sanity into our blighted (if not God forsaken Kingdom).
I have enjoyed a very long and good rest. I should have been back with my column last week. But as you all saw, my entire page was taken by a special comment that this newspaper dedicated to victims of some of the most despicable forms of violence against women and children and the contemptible behaviour of some police officers.
I have a lot to say about the latest developments in our country on the political and other fronts. However so touched and disturbed was I with the story of the killing of Mme ‘Mathabang Radiile and her four month infant granddaughter that I cannot just live the subject. The badly injured infant was not named in the story published last week in line with our editorial policy which prohibits the naming of rape victims and children under 16. However, for convenience purposes, I shall call this child Realeboha.
We have learnt that some of our readers feel we should not have published the pictures of Realeboha because of their ghastly nature. We always face such a dilemma in the media. Images might be so distressing (and to some extent even nauseating for publication), but we just have to publish them to illustrate a point.
The point that needed to be made here was to illustrate the fallacy and canard by the investigating officer in the case, one Sergeant Kubutu Kubutu, who essentially boasted in remarks to our reporter that the suspected monstrous murderer, one Lebohang Nkuebe, was a good candidate for bail despite his dastardly acts.
I have a simple question for Ntate Kubutu; what planet do you reside on and do you in fact possess a human heart? Your declaration in the Lesotho Timeswas forthright. You – as the investigating officer – did not oppose bail because you “we did not have grounds to oppose bail” – you opined. Really, Sergeant Kubutu. So in your mind Sergent Kubutu, it is just fine for a man to slice a woman to death in the most brute of ways and then proceed to burn an infant with toxic acid, essentially destroying two lives, since the infant will never be the same again? And before you have even laid a second charge arising from the savage assault on the infant, you are already busy helping the main suspect access bail. King Letsie 111 once warned that Lesotho has fast become a laughing stock of the world. I echo His Majesty’s sentiments. We are more than a laughing stock.
Lesotho is perhaps the only place in the world, where a man can brutally kill his wife in the morning, then douse a child with acid. And before the ink on the charge sheet has dried, the investigating officer is stampeding to ensure the suspect – who has already confessed to the crime – gets speedy bail. While the family of the victim is traumatized, the murderer is back on the street the next few days threatening potential witnesses, making waves on social media and patronizing bars looking for more women to kill. What a shame and disgrace?
Hardly a day now goes without Lesotho experiencing a gruesome murder of sorts. In this very issue, we carry a story of a businessman, Thabo Molisana, who has died after a brutal assault. Another story narrates the ordeal of ’Matsepang Kaizer, who has not got justice six years after the brutal murder of her husband, Motlalepula Kaizer. Mme ’Matsepang complains about her ordeal at Mabote Police Station where she claims she is thrown from pillar to post whenever she tries to inquire about progress of investigations into the murder of her husband. We know Mabote Police Station very well. Our staff were once guests of the police station under the previous Mosisili regime. We saw the police in full swing. A group of 15 heavily armed policemen and officers from military police surrounded and interrogated Lesotho Times staff. So efficient where they that by the end of the day, our publisher had been arraigned before the courts and charged with the patently stupid crime that this newspaper had defamed one Tlali Kennedy Kamoli. Going to court, he was accompanied by a group of three vehicles stuffed with stern looking officers. Only if the same zeal, energy and resources were devoted to hunting down and prosecuting murderers, Lesotho will be the Switzerland of Africa.
Mabote is coincidentally where Sergent Kubutu is stationed. There is no pun intended here. I am not implying anything here. But surely, when Sergeant Kubutu sees no shame in standing up to claim that a man who knifes a woman to death and burns a four month old infant is a good candidate for bail, why should murderers (current and future ones) not feel encouraged? If police officers don’t take their work seriously and if they don’t take themselves seriously, why should murderers not feel emboldened? If someone commits murder, burns children and the seriousness of their offences don’t matter in the adjudication of bail. And they are indeed awarded bail the next few days after committing the dastardly acts with the active assistance of the investigating officer, then why should we not have more murderers? Please tell us Sergeant Kubutu. And this Nkuebe guy, apart from being a heartless monster and savage, was a vagabond. Uneducated and functionally illiterate, he was incapable of getting a job anywhere. He was simply unemployable. He was being looked after by the very same woman he murdered. So where would he have got bail money or the heavy sureties commensurate with the crime he committed? Efforts by the family to get information on his bail has been elusive. So did you facilitate free bail for him Ntate Kubutu. Please come clean. This story is not going to die until the truth is out Ntate. Be very warned. Your actions did not make sense. They are wholly incomprehensible. They won’t be let lying down.
We – as the media – have been transfixed with the high profile murders that have been committed by high profile murderers like Tlali Kamoli. But out there, many Basotho are suffering. Out there, many women and children are suffering? They are left to their own devices by incompetent police officers. Their stories are not told as national attention is consumed by the high profile victims. It’s high time we said enough is enough.
Central to the curbing of violent crime – and any crime for that matter – is the knowledge that if you commit a crime, competent law enforcement officers will investigate thoroughly, get you nailed in the courts. These law enforcement officers comprise of learned lawyers who work as prosecutors and judges. But above all, competent police officers who must undertake the initial thorough investigations are indispensable to any serious and competent criminal justice system. With shoddy investigations, murderers are left to roam free.
Lesotho’s inane criminal justice system is in need of urgent and certain reform. Why for instance should bail be so easy to obtain for people charged with serious crimes? Once out, the suspects commit more crimes. The point was made last week that in South Africa, Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 offences make it tough for suspects arrested under them to obtain bail. Why should a rapist, murderer or monstrous child abuser have it so easy when it comes to bail? Why should the opinion of an investigating officer (IO) be decisive when it comes to determining bail? What if the IO is compromised? Does it surely make any sense that any IO can rush to facilitate bail for an offender who admits to dousing a child in acid as you saw in the newspaper last week. A guy kills today and the next few days he is found on the streets with a can of Maloti in his right arm. Something appears very fishy here. As said earlier, enough is enough. The story of Realeboha badly touched me. The family of this infant is rightly outraged at the mollycoddling of her torturer and grand mum’s murderer. They are right to appeal to high offices. They are right to appoint and give a watching brief to able criminal lawyers who will watch how this matter is handled. As a newspaper we shall follow Realeboha’s and her grand mom’s case closely and see how it is handled. If any mishaps ensue, as we have already seen with the speed with which bail was facilitated for the murderer – Lebohang Nkuebe – then you will just have to wait and watch this space for details. We will take no prisoners. We will not hesitate to name and expose those that facilitate the miscarriage of justice and wholly trash them and their reputations. That’s our role as a newspaper. We would have failed in our duties if families suffer and we keep quite. I also invite families out there who are suffering after the murder of their loved ones – and are unsatisfied with the progress in their cases – to write to me on my mail shown on my logo. We ought to combine all our grief and do something about it.
Ntate Motsoahae, upon taking office last June, implored police officers to take their work seriously. Those who are either not interested in their work or are simply incompetent should be weeded out of the LMPS. They should go and grow vegetables in their villages. The media must keep a spot light on them and if necessary mobilise the nation against them. We can’t afford incompetents in the LMPS.
Fortunately, there is a new sheriff in town. Ntate Molibeli is probably the best police commissioner we have ever seen. He is serious about his work. From what he has done so far, Scrutator is proud of him. But for him to be more effective, he needs serious foot soldiers. His juniors must be serious with their work. A police commissioner cannot go out and investigate cases. His role is to set the policy direction of the force. He needs serious lieutenants to do the job. I have no doubt that Ntate Molibeli will take the necessary corrective measures against incompetents and weed them out of the force. The nation must help him in drawing attention to all forms of malfeasance in the LMPS.
While many families are reeling after losing their loved ones, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) emerges from its slumber to make the bizarre demand that other such murderers – once commanded by one Tlali Kennedy Kamoli – should be released from prison and let go – as a pre-condition of the LCD’s participation in the SADC recommended reforms.
Ntate Mosisili – probably heavily intoxicated – convenes a press conference to demand the removal of all SADC troops as a pre-condition for his participation in the reforms process. Is there an evil spirit that afflicts our politicians? There is only one reasonable inference to make from these rantings. The killing of Ntate Mahao and other victims may not have been the work of Kamoli’s alone. It was approved and possibly initiated by the political leaders in charge at the time. How surely can any self-respecting politician make the release of murderers from remand prison a pre-condition for participation in reform talks? Where is your conscience? You obviously don’t feel the pain we feel because your family members are not the victims. They are the perpetrators? How do you expect the world to take you seriously? Have you forgotten that the SADC troops are here because of your murderous deeds? If you had not killed Ntate Mahao, if you had not tried to kill Ntate Mutungamiri, the former editor of the Lesotho Times, among many others, perhaps these SADC troops would not have been here after all.
Who actually does the thinking for the LCD? This once venerable party of Methotjoa Metsing. And is Ntate Mosisili still holding up upstairs? How can anyone pen such a trashy letter and dispatch it to SADC and expect it to be taken seriously. Do we need these reforms after all. Me I am beginning to think not. Perhaps Ntate Motsoahae should not so much worry about them but concern himself with service delivery, win most seats in the next election and continue arresting the murderers and criminals who made life so much hell for peace loving Basotho. We deserve a better peaceful Lesotho.