Deceased’s relatives flee angry villagers

BEREA – Two relatives of the late ‘Mapaulosi Marou who was burnt to death for alleged witchcraft two weeks ago have fled their home in Sehlabeng after villagers threatened to kill them as well.

Marou, 54, together with ‘Malitséoane Lefaphane, also 54, were burnt to death after villagers accused them of bewitching 18-year-old Paseka Makhanyane.

Marou’s daughter and her baby fled their home in Sehlabeng and are now living with relatives in Teya-Teyaneng, about 10 km away.

Two weeks after the death of Marou and Lefaphane angry villagers have turned their anger against the relatives of the two dead women.

They want them dead too.

Lefaphane’s sister-in-law, ‘Mampati Matlali, said their family was now living in fear and were being harassed by angry villagers.

Matlali said some villagers had told them that “they were going to be burnt just like the witches.”

She said some villagers were camping outside their home at night singing threatening and insulting songs.

“We are always afraid that they will come and set the house alight while we are sleeping. Everybody is so angry with us.

“No one has ever come to see how we are doing. Not even the chief,” Matlali said.

Matlali said what appeared to have stoked the villagers’ anger are reports that Makhanyane had continued to claim that the two dead women were still haunting him.

“He (Makhanyane) said the deceased were still haunting him even though they were dead. Villagers said that they were going to revenge by killing the deceased’s relatives.”

Matlali said she was now afraid that her sister’s children would be harmed by the villagers.

“They are already being harassed by other children at school. They have been told that their mother deserved to be killed for bewitching Makhanyane,” she said.

There is no remorse among the villagers.

A villager who spoke to the Lesotho Times last week on condition of anonymity said the two women deserved to be killed for practising witchcraft.

“Those women were witches. We do not want them in our village. They are an abomination. Look how they made an innocent life miserable,” he said.

He said the villagers were angry with how the two women responded during the interrogation by the local chief.

“They took us for granted. They cast their spells and the boy was again haunted by their evil spirits. They were not going to stop. They are better dead.

“Now that they are still torturing the boy maybe they will stop if one of their closest family members is also made to suffer,” he said.

‘Mateboho Moka however condemned the killing of the two women. He said the killing was “satanic.”

“They (villagers) are possessed by an evil spirit. Something is terribly wrong with those who burn people alive,” Moka said.

Moka said she knew the two women and there was no way they could have been witches.

“I was very close to both women. We even went to church together. They were good people. They would never hurt anyone,” Moka said.

She said the killers of the two women should be arrested and made to rot in prison.

“They do not have a conscience. They are going to burn in hell,” Moka said.

Police spokesman Pheello Mphana could not be reached for comment on the matter.

But a policeman who spoke to the Lesotho Times said they were not aware of the harassment the two families were being subjected to.

He said the police were going to attend to the matter as soon as possible.

“No one has a right to threaten other people. It is a serious offence,” said the police officer.

Meanwhile, in a related incident, a 78-year-old woman from Ribaneng in Mafeteng was burnt to death last Sunday after she was accused of practising witchcraft.

The name of the deceased could not be established on Tuesday.

The police said eight women from Ribaneng confronted the deceased accusing her of causing the death of two children a few months ago.

“During the questioning the women got angry and started sprinkling petrol all over her body and set her on fire,” according to a police report.

The women were arrested on Sunday and are set to appear in court to answer a charge of murder.

Belief in witchcraft and the supernatural is widespread in Lesotho.

Last January four family members were burnt to death in ‘Masemousu after they were accused of practising witchcraft.

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