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Missing Qoaling man found dead

by Lesotho Times

…his decomposed corpse discovered barely two weeks after his wife’s brutal murder 

‘Marafaele Mohloboli 

A QOALING man, who went missing a few days before the cold-bloodied 2 April 2022 murder of his wife, has been found dead.

The body of the 34- year- old Moeketsi Monaphathi was discovered by passers-by in a donga in Masianokeng near the junction leading to Ha Pena-Pena, Maseru.

According to a family spokesperson, Lerato Monaphathi, Mr Monaphathi’s body was discovered in an advanced state of decomposition.

“His body was badly decomposed. It was covered with worms. It had two wounds on the inner left thigh, another wound on the right thigh, two wounds on the stomach, one on the head and it is clear that he was slaughtered. He was still dressed in his clothes and he had his shoes on. His newly acquired silver Golf GTI car has not been recovered,” Lerato said in an interview this week.

While painful, the discovery of Mr Monaphathi’s body brings closure to his friends and relatives who were left devastated and traumatised by his disappearance in the days leading up to the brutal murder of his wife, ‘Mapabatso Monaphathi, on 2 April 2022.

‘Mapabatso was shot and killed in Qoaling. According to neighbours and police reports, ‘Mapabatso was shot dead by unknown assailants shortly before midnight.

She was gunned down in front of her five-year-old daughter. Although the child was unharmed, the gruesome murder of her mother will probably haunt her for the rest of her life.

Qoaling Councillor, ‘Matšola Masenkane, who resides just a stone’s throw away from the slain Monaphathi couple, said she was indoors with her husband when they suddenly heard gunshots on the night of ‘Mapabatso’s gruesome killing.

Shortly afterwards, Ms Masenkane’s husband received a phone call pleading with them to rush to their neighbour’s house as a “terrifying incident” had just occurred.

Ms Masenkane said they were initially afraid to leave their house as the gunshots were still being heard.

When the firing eventually stopped, she said they rushed out and found a huge crowd of people already gathered at the scene.

“According to the information we received, the culprits arrived at the now deceased’s residence sometime between 10 and 11pm. They claimed that they were holding the now deceased woman’s husband in captivity. They demanded entry into her home but she refused to open the door for them.

“The gunmen then started shooting at the door. The woman was with her two children and their friend in the house at the time. One of her kids is five years old. The older child and her friend escaped through the back window and reported to neighbours. The woman remained with her younger daughter who emerged unharmed from the shooting. After the gunmen had fled the scene, the child recounted the shooting to other neighbours who went over and discovered the now deceased woman’s body lying in a pool of blood,” Ms Masenkane said a few days after ‘Mapabatso’s murder.

She said at the time they feared ‘Mapabatso’s husband, who was missing, could either be dead or in the captivity of his wife’s killers.

Now that Mr Monaphathi’s remains have been discovered, Lerato said although sad, the family would find closure “instead of being traumatised by thoughts of whether he was dead or alive”.

“At least we will be able to give him a respectable burial,” Lerato added.

Qoaling is notorious for its high crime statistics, a fact Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli lamented and promised to address way back in September 2020.

At the time, Commissioner Molibeli even promised to set up a police station in the area and increase police visibility as part of efforts to combat its high crime levels. The police station has since been set up but as the cold-blooded murder of the defenceless couple shows, the law enforcement authorities are still a long way from stemming the killings and other crimes in Qoaling in particular and Lesotho in general.

Councillor Masenkane said murders were rampant in Qoaling and they suspected that the Monaphathis’ killings could be gang-related. She said gangs often killed family members, especially women and children, in retribution whenever they had fights amongst themselves.

She said the Manomoro gang were the most prevalent in Qoaling.

The Manomoro gang comprises of juvenile delinquents, hardened ex-convicts and Famo musicians.

Despite their rampant criminal activities, the police have thus far proved incapable of dealing with them. This has forced the army to step in and assume policing duties.

In April 2021, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) was forced to step in and apprehend 74 people, mostly youths aged 15 to 34. They were detained at Makoanyane Military Barracks for two months.

Code-named Operation Namola (intervene), the army operation was meant to rein in the deviant youths who had caused residents to live in constant fear because of the many violent crimes.

The army then organised a rehabilitation exercise which culminated in the juveniles being released and integrated back into their communities.

The LDF’s intervention was prompted by the police’s failure to fulfil its mandate of protecting citizens from crime.

In November 2021, deputy army commander, Matela Matobakele, sharply attacked the police for failing the nation.

Major General Matobakele said “Lesotho has no police force to speak about”.

He said the army had been forced to assume policing duties due to the incompetence of the police. His comments did not sit well with Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, who said he was out of line and had to apologise to Police Commissioner Molibeli. The premier has generally refrained from publicly criticising the police for its apparent failures. He has largely been a bystander as many citizens have become victims of violent crimes which have earned Lesotho’s dubious distinction of being one of the world’s top-ranking homicidal nations.

It remains unclear if the deputy army chief ever apologised for his remarks as per Dr Majoro’s instruction. What is however clear, is that the killings are not ceasing. If anything, they appear to be escalating with each passing day with no concomitant state action to stop them.

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