THE Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo, is fuming over the spate of rape crimes and killings of elderly people in Lesotho.
So angry is the Mafeteng legislator that he has urged the police to shoot to kill suspects and he does not care that he could be compromising his political future with such statements. His statements are likely to be viewed as inciting the police who have been roundly condemned by the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, other government officials as well as Lesotho’s development partners for brutality against criminal suspects.
This is not the first time that Mr Tšolo has called on the police to shoot to kill suspects. He first made the call in 2018 at one of Dr Thabane’s public gatherings in Mafeteng. There is however, a caveat to Mr Tšolo’s calls for action against criminals. He said suspects should only be shot if there was compelling evidence that they had indeed raped the elderly.
Speaking exclusively with Lesotho Times this week, the Mafeteng legislator, who is also Acting Social Development Minister, said the alarming numbers of rape and murder cases against the elderly were a cause for concern and the trend could only be curbed if police shot and killed suspects at the scene of the crime.
“I am not ashamed of what I am saying and if people do not want to be shot they should stay away from raping and killing old people,” Mr Tšolo said.
“If people cannot be stopped from abusing the elderly and if they keep getting bail for as little as M300 then I reckon they should be killed because the courts are failing us and we cannot have that nonsense. I am not ashamed of what I am saying and if this will cost me votes in the coming elections, so be it.”
He said it was disturbing that the media was always awash with horrific stories of heinous crimes including the rape and murders of the elderly. He questioned the kind of nation Lesotho had become with rapists who were allowed to roam the streets for weeks and months after they were caught raping the elderly.
“Let us be a society that looks out and protect each other and not one which hurts and abuses others. Old people are already dealing with many different diseases and they cannot afford to live in fear of a young man getting between their legs and raping them. As people grow old, they have to deal with a lot of things. Their appearance changes and some start losing their minds but that does not permit anyone to abuse them.”
Last week, Mr Tšolo publicly voiced the same demands for the police to shoot and kill criminals who abused the elderly. Speaking the Rata oa Heno (love yourself like you love others) Wellness Day celebrations in Masianokeng, Mr Tšolo said police should kill any suspect whenever there was compelling evidence linking the suspect to the crime. He said such evidence included finding a suspect found zipping his trousers at the scene of crime.
The Rata oa Heno Wellness Day was organised by Rata oa Heno Development Centre- an organisation that assists elderly people to access medical and social services.
“Lately there are many cases of people who rape and kill old people and these people should just be killed as well.
“As long as I am in this office I will make sure that anyone who abuses old people pays for that,” Mr Tšolo said at the wellness event.
His shoot to kill remarks come at a time when the police have been roundly condemned for brutality against criminal suspects.
In the latest reports of police brutality, rogue officers allegedly tortured 49-year-old Nqosa Mahao of Ha Mabote, Maseru and 31 year-old Kabelo Ratia of Nazareth in the Maseru district. Mr Mahao was abducted from his Mabote home on 18 July 2019 on suspicion of hiding firearms on behalf of some rogue soldiers.
While several people have come forward with accusations, it is the alleged torture of Mr Ratia which has grabbed the headlines.
Mr Ratia alleged that he was tortured to the point where he soiled himself and was made to eat his own faeces.
He had been arrested for allegedly stealing M30 000 from a local businessman. During his detention Mr Ratia was allegedly subjected to horrendous torture and forced to implicate others including one Thabo Mei in the alleged theft of the businessman’s money. Mr Mei was hospitalised and eventually died of the injuries inflicted on him.
Just last week, European Union Ambassador to Lesotho, Christian Manahl, said he was dismayed by the “recurrent reports of police brutality, in particular cases of torture and of the death of detainees in police custody”.
Dr Manahl implored the government to investigate and take disciplinary measures against rogue police officers implicated in the torture of civilians and other forms of human rights abuses. He said police brutality was a violation to human rights to life and freedom.
Even Dr Thabane has condemned police brutality and a fortnight ago the government told Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders in Tanzania that at least 30 rogue police officers will soon face criminal charges.