- as yet another police officer is gunned down,
- it’s a declaration of war against the police, police chief, minister say
POLICE and Public Safety Minister Lepota Sekola and Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli are both breathing fire after the killing of yet another police officer this week.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Lekota said Inspector Thabo Motsokotsi’s murder, on Tuesday by unknown assailants, should be treated as a declaration of war against the police force.
Commissioner Molibeli also condemned the killing. He called for tougher sentences including the imposition of the death penalty to deter would-be offenders.
Police Sub Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka this week said Inspector Motsokotsi was shot dead in Mazenod shortly after disembarking from a taxi at about 4.30pm on Tuesday.
“We got a report that Inspector Motsokotsi, who heads the department of stock theft at Maseru Rural, had been gunned down by two men. They opened fire on him and when he was already on the ground, they took his pistol from him and literally walked away from the scene.
“No arrests have been made so far but investigations are ongoing,” Sub Inspector Mofoka said yesterday.
Inspector Motsokotsi’s murder comes barely a week after the murder of Police Constable (PC) Mokilane Mokete in Mapoteng. Three days before the latter’s murder, another officer, PC Selone Selone had been gunned down in Butha-Buthe.
Before that another officer, Sergeant Qetelo Letšela, had been gunned down in Mokhotlong.
All in all, seven police officers have been murdered in just three months. Civilian murders are much higher and all this has only served to cement Lesotho’s dubious distinction among the top ten countries in the world for homicides.
In fact, according to the https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/murder-rate-by-country, Lesotho is ranked number six in the world for murders. El Salvador is the murder capital of the world. Apart from El Salvador, only Honduras (2nd ranked), Venezuela (3rd), the Virgin Islands (4th) and Jamaica (5th) are ranked higher than Lesotho.
Even war-ravaged SADC countries like Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo have fared much better than Lesotho when it comes to homicide.
Contributing to Lesotho’s unenviable statistics are several brutal murders including the unresolved murders of women and children that have rocked the country in the past few years.
However, the surge in the murders of police officers in recent weeks has got the government worried.
“The rate at which police are being killed is a clear signal to the police that war has been declared against them,” Minister Sekola told this publication this week.
“Police officers are also human like everyone else and they mean a lot to their relatives. They are sons, husbands and fathers and don’t deserve to be killed.
“It is very obvious that this is now a war and we will have to sit down with other security agencies to see how best we can tackle this situation. We already have some plans to deal with the situation but we won’t publicise them lest we alert the criminals. But one thing for sure is that we are going to deal with this issue of the killings of police officers,” Mr Sekola said.
On his part, Commissioner Molibeli said it was time for tougher measures to deal with the spate of murders of police officers.
“It is time for Lesotho to put up a stern face when it comes to dealing with these people who are robbing others of their lives. We have to enhance our campaigns against the criminals and work hand in hand with the public to stop these killings.
“Anyone with an illegal gun should be given a tough deterrent sentence. The courts should not be lenient and anyone found with an illegal firearm should know that they are doomed,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
He suggested that the country should follow the example of Botswana and actually execute criminals found guilty of capital crimes like murder.
“Our sentences are just too lenient and not deterrent enough. Our courts are just too lenient while people are being killed night and day.
“Too many police officers have been killed. These may seem like mere statistics to some but these are not just numbers to their relatives. It is sad to see the perpetrators being treated with kid gloves,” Commissioner Molibeli added.