Cops seek support in famo violence

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Pascalinah Kabi

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Keketso Monaheng has called on the judiciary to speed-up the prosecution of famo-related cases.

DCP Monaheng says the courts are critical to ending famo-related killings which have intensified over recent months.

Famo gangs which go by the names Terene and Seakhi and are identified by the colour of their blankets, have been embroiled in an increasingly vicious and deadly turf war over recent years.

The groups provoke each other through their lyrics, leading to bloody conflicts which have however, also resulted in the death or injury of innocent bystanders.

On Friday last week, the police embarked on a special operation to rid the nation of the offensive songs and those behind the violence.

“The police have started a special operation in Maseru, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek and we will soon cover the whole country. Under this operation, we have seized CDs, blankets, guns, knives, fighting sticks and hats related to famo songs which promote fights and killings among our people,” DCP Monaheng told a media briefing on Tuesday.

“We will do everything possible to force people to listen to us and do what the police want them to do in line with this country’s constitution.

“We have learnt there are people sending others to do these killings on their behalf and it will be very unfortunate for those who will fall into our trap because it will be a very serious offence. Lucky are those sending others but their luck will soon run out.”

DCP Monaheng also said the police had since learnt traditionally-circumcised men were perpetuating these killings, which he said should stop with immediate effect.

He also said traditional leaders should ensure no one walks around their respective villages wearing balaclavas as some of the killers cover their faces with the ski-masks and pretend to be herd-boys commonly associated with this dressing, before pouncing on their victims.

“We are not ending with confiscating these CDs and firearms. Our final destination is bringing people suspected to be fueling these killings before the courts of law for prosecution.

“Yes, we might have dealt with the matter before but this is the first time we are going to handle it this way. We are hoping this will be the end of these killings because the police are determined to put a stop to the bloodshed,” DCP Monaheng said.

He added: “However, it is important for the nation to understand the police are not the only ones dealing with these criminalss. The courts play a bigger role in ensuring that suspects face the full might of the law.

“We are also working with different local security agencies and the South African Police Service to put a stop to these killings.”

Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Police Mpota Nthako also told the conference that the special operation had so far been a huge success.

“If you look at the statistics from January 2016, every three days there was a  famo-related killing reported to the police. But since 19 April, a day after we reinforced our efforts, we have recorded just one unfortunate incident which occurred in Leribe a few days ago.

“Since 2003 when these killings started, we have investigated cases, arrested people and brought them before the courts of law but they are always out on bail.

“This is a fight that needs the police, prosecution and the courts to work together and we will soon meet with court officials to see how this can be addressed. There are so many pending cases before the courts and we will meet with the relevant authorities to see how best we can speed up these processes so that people learn from the sentences imposed that these are serious offences,” SAC Nthako said.

Meanwhile, Acting Assistant Commissioner Jankie Hlaahla said the police would like to closely work with the famo group leaders in finding a lasting solution to the deadly feud.

“We have a clear roadmap and at some point, we are going to sit down with the leaders and see how best they can help us find a solution to this fighting,” he said.

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