More grisly murders rock the country

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. . . as woman is killed for M20

’Marafaele Mohloboli

LESOTHO has been rocked by two more violent and gruesome killings of women. One of the murders is that of 30-year-old ‘Mahlompho Matela (nee Rethabile Mofolo) of Ha Mabote, Maseru. ‘Mahlompho was allegedly bludgeoned to death by her husband, Qamo Matela (35), a fortnight ago. Qamo was said to have been angered by her failure to give his mother M20 which she had requested from her.

In the other case, Libuseng Maqakachane (21) was found dead in a veld at Ha-Ramakakamela, Leribe, over the weekend. Her body was discovered by shocked herdboys. Her family suspects that she was murdered by her boyfriend.

The gruesome murders are merely the latest in the long-running orgy of violence and killings of Basotho, particularly women and children, which have now catapulted Lesotho to the dubious distinction of being the country with the sixth highest rate of homicides in the world after El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela, Virgin Islands and Jamaica.

The slain ‘Mahlompho and Qamo had been married for nine years. The couple had two children- a seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. They lived in the same compound with Qamo’s mother in Ha-Mabote.

According to a source privy to the matter, on the fateful day, Qamo’s mother had earlier asked her daughter-in-law for M20 and the latter said she did not have any money.

“Qamo had not been home but when he came back and was informed about the matter, a heated quarrel ensued as he insisted that ‘Mahlompho should have given his mother the money she had requested,” the source said.

“In the ensuing dispute, Qamo assaulted his wife, gravely injuring her in the process. He confined her to the house for close to a week and did not even bother to seek medical attention for her despite her serious injuries.

“Obviously, his mother knew what had happened but she too did not utter a word to anyone. Whenever anyone called on his wife’s phone, Qamo would answer that she was resting after taking some medication.

“‘Mahlompho’s sister eventually got wind of the matter and insisted on seeing her on 10 September 2021. She subsequently took ‘Mahlompho to Maseru Private Hospital where she was later transferred to Bloemfontein. However, she died on the following day and the matter was reported to the Lesotho police,” the source said.

Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, confirmed the incident.

He said Qamo was arrested on 15 September and appeared in the Berea Magistrates’ Court last Friday on charges of murdering ‘Mahlompho.

He was remanded in custody to 28 September 2021.

‘Mahlompho’s family is struggling to come to terms with her senseless murder.

Her cousin, Tšepiso Mofolo, this week said they had never once suspected that she could be in an abusive marriage as she always looked happy whenever they saw her.

“I never thought that my cousin could be turned into a punching bag,” Mr Mofolo told the Lesotho Times this week.

“She had never complained of anything and always looked happy.

“They appeared to be one of the happiest couples and many people looked up to them. She was the breadwinner as her husband was not working. She always provided for the family and even secured some odd jobs for her husband. He should have known better than abuse her and kill her in the manner that he did. It is sad that she had had to put up with this torture until she died at the hands of a man she loved.

“I wish nothing for this guy, but that he be haunted by the guilt of murdering someone who loved and took care of him. I also want to know why he killed my sister like that,” an emotional Mr Mofolo said.

In another incident, Libuseng Maqakachane was found dead in a veld at Ha-Ramakakamela, Leribe.

Senior Supt Mopeli said the deceased woman’s body was discovered on Sunday by herd boys who raised an alarm. He said the body had bruises and the back had some marks which could have been caused by a sharp object.

“The deceased had been strangled with a shoe lace and her throat had been slit open. Seemingly, she had also been raped as well.

“The villagers had started searching the place where her body was later found. This was after two toddlers aged two years and eight months respectively were found abandoned not very far away from where Libuseng’s body was later discovered,” Senior Supt Mopeli said.

The two children were found on Friday morning by a passer-by and were handed over to Hlotse police who later went to the deceased’s home to ask if they could be identified. It turned out that the toddlers were Libuseng’s children.

A family member, Ramosebetsi Matsoso, said the last time they had seen the deceased was in 2018 when she left for Orange Farm, South Africa to look for work.

“She left for South Africa without her parents’ permission and they were unhappy with her departure,” Mr Matsoso said.

“It is only in 2019 when they learnt that she was staying with her boyfriend and she had a baby girl. Last year, her father went to seek employment in South Africa and they met up. They were briefly in contact until she stopped communicating again.

“No one had been aware that she had another child even though she had informed her mother that she was coming home. It appears that she had been on her way home when she met her end. Her children would have been meeting their mother’s family for the first time,” Mr Matsoso said.

He said he only got to know about her death when her body was discovered on Sunday afternoon. He said he had positively identified her body.

“We have since received some reports that Libuseng could have been killed by her boyfriend as he was the last one to be seen with her. It has also been said that they fought over some undisclosed issues before her death.

“We are kindly appealing to him to hand himself over to the police. He should come and see the pain he has put us through and we also want our two families to meet and bury the deceased.

“He should be arrested and pay for what he did because he can’t run forever. The rest of us can get counselling and forgive one another because avenging her death won’t benefit us in any way,” Mr Matsoso said.

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