Famo faction takes war to Mokhothu

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  • ABC-aligned faction warns DC leader against involvement in Famo conflicts,
  • as ABC leader Kabi pleads with gangs to reconcile

Bongiwe Zihlangu

SARELE Sello, a leading member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) aligned Terene, Famo faction has warned Deputy Prime Minister and Democratic Congress (DC) leader against “involving” himself in Famo gang conflicts.

Speaking at an ABC rally early this week in Hlotse, Leribe, Mr Sello also accused Mr Mokhothu of favouring his faction’s rivals and urging them to obtain guns to protect themselves against them.

Mr Mokhothu’s DC is the second biggest party in the governing coalition which is headed by the ABC. Despite their alliance which has remained solid since its inception in May 2020, the two parties will go head to head in the high stakes elections which are due in October 2022.

Popularly known as Lehlanya, Mr Sello chose to stick with the ABC when his former boss, the late Mosotho Chakela, defected to the DC in 2020. He is now the second-in-charge of the ABC-aligned faction which is now led by one Mokata Lirope.

Following Chakela’s death from Covid-19, one of his lieutenants, Ntei Tšehlana, took over as the new leader of the Terene faction which had defected to the DC. He was however, gunned down two months ago, leaving a vacuum in the leadership of the gang.

Speaking at the ABC rally, Mr Sello castigated Mr Mokhothu for allegedly urging members of the DC-aligned Terene gang to legally acquire licensed guns for their own protection.

“There is a political leader who said that he was aware that a certain faction was not as powerful so it must get guns to protect itself against another faction,” Mr Sello said.

“The leader I’m referring to is the Deputy Prime Minister. What he said provoked me. What kind of a leader says that?

“They must face me and leave other Terene members alone. I have previously reprimanded members of his party and told them to not involve themselves in Famo music issues. Even my own ABC allies have never meddled in our business and I love that.

“At this juncture I want to speak directly to the ABC leader. When you were in Klerksdorp last week, we advised not to take sides in the Famo gang wars. Never favour one group over another. If your wish is to unite us, you must guard against reckless speeches otherwise we will abandon you. I applaud you Ntate Kabi because you haven’t take any sides,” Mr Sello added.

Last week, Mr Kabi toured Klerksdorp, South Africa and addressed hundreds of Lesotho nationals. The majority of his audience were members of Mr Sello’s Terene faction.

Addressing the huge crowd mostly clad in the black and yellow regalia of the Terene gang, Mr Kabi said his party had decided to visit Klerksdorp to canvass for their votes. He said former ABC leader Thomas Thabane had advised him to “lean on you because you are loyal (to the ABC)”.

He was lavish in praise of the Terene gang, saying they were like “a government on its own” due to their high levels of “organisation and discipline”.

This week, Mr Sello reciprocated Mr Kabi’s praise for his faction.

He said his faction and the ABC were intricately bound together and “no one can separate Terene from ABC”.

“There are people who wish ill on the ABC. They delude themselves into believing this party will die. Kobo-Tata (ABC) is not going to die. I have said it before and I will say it again that no one can ever come between the ABC and Terene.

“I will drum it into your heads every day, come rain or sunshine. The ABC and Terene will always walk side by side, even after I am dead it will remain so. Terene members are here as you can see. ABC leaders visited us in Klerksdorp and they can testify that the numbers you see here are but a drop in the ocean. There are more where we come from,” Mr Sello said to loud applause.

Without mentioning any names, Mr Sello said there were two political party leaders who they hoped would lose in their respective constituencies in the elections which are due in October this year.

He said they would do everything in their power to ensure this happened including “transferring some ABC members to those constituencies to beef up the ABC support”.

In his address, Mr Kabi said the Terene faction had told him that despite expressing their desire for peace as well as seeking police and army protection whenever they are in Lesotho, they were instead provoked “by some people”.

He said on Saturday, the faction had attended the funeral of one of their members where the police and army came “only for a misunderstanding to crop up between members of the army and those of Terene”.

“Let me first talk to you Hlanyiza (Sello). When we were in Matlatsane with the Minister of Defence (Halebonoe Setšabi), you told us that having extended the olive branch and expressed your wish for peace and unity of all Basotho, you needed protection from the police and army whenever you come to Lesotho because there are people who provoke you.

“So, yesterday (Saturday) when the police and army arrived at a funeral that you and other Terene members were attending, you naturally assumed that they were there to provide the security you had requested. However, to your shock, there was a misunderstanding between the army and members of the public.

“You had brought along with some Zulu men who encountered a problem with the army due to the language barrier. The army demanded to know why they remained in the cars while the rest of you attended the funeral. Nevertheless, don’t worry about what transpired. Instead, you should continue holding hands with us because we are working for everlasting peace,” Mr Kabi said.

He then warned soldiers against being abusive towards the public whenever they were conducting their duties.

“To members of the LDF who were at the funeral, I know you were executing your duties. But you must refrain from being abusive when you perform your duties. Refrain from stoking trouble where there is peace and don’t cause problems under the pretext of doing your job.

“You are our hope. We want to continue working together with Famo groups, the police and army beyond the elections. We must steer Lesotho towards peace,” Mr Kabi said.

He also reached out to political leaders whose parties are aligned to Famo gangs, saying they must “come to the negotiating table so that we can unite these groups”.

Asked to respond to Mr Sello’s utterances, Mr Mokhothu simply said, “the DC preaches peace and will always do so”.

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