Premier calls for implementation of death penalty following brutal killing of two Berea residents
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has called for the implementation of the death penalty following the shocking murders of two Berea residents last weekend.
Although Lesotho maintains the death penalty for murder, treason and rape where the accused knows he is infected with HIV, the country has not implemented it since 1992 and capital punishment is normally commuted to a life sentence.
Addressing the two bereaved families in Bela Bela and Teyateyaneng (TY) on Monday, Dr Thabane said failure to carry out the death sentence was making criminals contemptuous of the law.
Seshophe Lesaoana Peete (32)—the son of Chieftainess ‘Mantoetse Lesaoana Peete—and ‘Mathabang Malau (75) were killed in cold blood in Bela Bela and TY on Saturday respectively, leaving the local community in a state of shock.
Speaking at the Peete homestead, Dr Thabane said it was time the courts carried out the death penalty as criminals were becoming more ruthless by the day.
“There is a growing trend of Basotho killing each other and until such time that this inactive death penalty is applied, these murders won’t stop.
“The sudden death of Prince Seshophe Lesaoana Peete through senseless shooting clearly shows that criminals are not afraid to commit such terrible crimes because they know that after killing innocent souls, the sentence would be very mild.
“Our justice system should impose the death penalty on people who choose to be murderers. What I am also wondering is whether the gun that killed Prince Seshophe was legally acquired.
“As the minister responsible for security, I urge the police to continue looking for people with unlicenced firearms and destroy such weapons, not once or twice year, but on a regular basis.
“We are tired of illegal firearms being used to commit crime in our country. Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa, which makes our country very vulnerable because we are now aware that the exchange of illegal firearms takes place at the border with South Africa. The police should prevent these exchanges and stop being part of those criminal activities.”
In his condolences to the Malau family, Dr Thabane said murderers “must also die” and pay the ultimate price for their sins, adding only through the implementation of capital punishment could such senseless killings be stopped.
“These criminals think the government and police will get tired of fighting crime, but I would want to promise you all here that we remain committed to eradicating this scourge from our country. The devil can’t overcome us because we are believers and resemble God the Almighty,” Dr Thabane said.
The All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader added it was “sickening” for the youths, who are the future of this country, to be killing the elderly, especially women, simply because of their vulnerability.
“We receive reports, all the time, about our grandmothers being raped and killed by very young men. We have not yet been fully informed about what transpired here, but stabbing and cutting the throat of ‘M’e ‘Mathabang was heartless and evil,” Dr Thabane said.
The Principal Chief of Koeneng and Mapoteng, Chief Peete Lesaoana Peete, who is also the immediate elder brother of the slain prince, said: “It was late Saturday when I was with him at his bar. There was a fight among the customers, and my herd-boy was among those involved in the brawl. When my brother tried to intervene, my herd-boy shot him dead. I immediately took my brother for medical assistance but he could not be saved. I was surprised that my herd-boy could bring such tragedy to my family.”
Thabang Malau, the only child to the late ‘Mathabang (75), told the Lesotho Times that his mother lived alone in her five-roomed house in TY.
“I work in South Africa, while my wife and children live in Maseru. We usually came to visit my mother on month-ends, so I am really shocked that some shameless criminal decided to take advantage of her old age and murder her,” Mr Malau said.
“My mother was stabbed six times at the back of the head and her throat was slit. She was found lying in a pool of blood in her bedroom.
“From what I was told by the police, two kitchen knives were found near her corpse and it is suspected these were the murder weapons.”
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Koshene Majoro appeared in the Teyateyaneng Magistrate’s Court on Monday this week for the alleged murder of Seshophe Peete.
Majoro was also charged with two counts of attempted murder, for allegedly firing at Principal Chief Peete Lesaoana Peete, and one Seabata Taole, and one for illegal possession of a firearm.
Magistrate Tšeliso Bale advised the suspect to apply for bail at the High Court, as he remanded him in custody.
The suspect is expected back in court on 10 November. The case is being prosecuted by Senthebane Moerane.