MASERU — Communities in Maputsoe say they are living in fear of an armed gang that has been terrorising villagers in recent weeks.
A member of the gang appeared briefly before the Maputsoe Magistrate’s Court last Friday to answer charges of armed robbery.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha confirmed Kefuoe Tale’s appearance in court on June 10.
He added that they were looking for other members of the group called Matycoon who have committed a number of serious crimes in the area.
“A 28-year-old man was arrested after police received a tip off from members of the community that he was a member of the Ma-tycoon gang,” Masupha said on Monday.
“When police went to his place they confiscated four cell phones that were reported missing by their owners.”
He said the suspects are also wanted by police in connection with other cases of hijacking, sexual abuse and armed robbery.
Masupha said in the past week alone police had received more than 10 reports of criminal cases implicating the Maputsoe-based gang.
The police have since launched an operation to nab the remaining members of the group.
“The suspect who has appeared in court has given us the names of two other gang members he was working with,” Masupha said.
He added that another two had fled to South Africa and local police had already informed their counterparts across the border about them.
The gang is said to be using a sickle to attack people.
“They hang it around a victim’s neck and demand money and cell phones.
“If victims try to resist they threaten to cut off their necks,” Masupha said.
Some members of the gang are reported to have waylaid people near the Maputsoe border post and attack them when they pass by.
“They had cut a fence near the border post and when people passed they would drag them towards the river where they would rob them,” Masupha said.
“It is alleged that members of the gang sometimes drug people by pouring intoxicating substances in their drinks in public bars and them rob them.”
A number of Basotho working in South Africa had fallen victim to this trick after accepting invitations for drinks from the gang.
Some are even murdered during robbery, police said, adding that most members of Ma-tycoon are aged between 20 and 40, who are divided into sub groups depending on where one comes from and their area of crime specialisation.
Although police are not sure how big the gang is, they noted that it has been recruiting members from time to time by making recruits believe that it is a smart group that easily generates lots of money.
Masupha said police were working hard to protect the community against these feared groups.
“People should make sure that they don’t accept drinks from strangers because they can easily be trapped,” he said.