Pastor gunned down in Semonkong

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Bereng Mpaki

ANOTHER week, another killing. This time the victim is French pastor, Francois Snyman, who was gunned down at his Semonkong home during the weekend.

Mr Snyman was shot dead in front of his wife and children during a robbery by unknown assailants. The killers took off with an undisclosed amount of money and some valuables.

The two masked gun-toting assailants broke into the house while Mr Snyman, his wife, Mariette, and their four children were watching television on Saturday evening.

They then demanded money and mobile phones. The family handed over an undisclosed amount of cash, four mobile phones and a laptop. The robbers then shot Mr Snyman several times before fleeing into the night. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby clinic.

Mr Snyman, who was a pastor at Love Lesotho Ministries Church, relocated to Lesotho in 2011.

Deputy police spokesperson, Sub-Inspector ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka, confirmed the murder, saying investigations were ongoing.

“We are investigating a case of homicide but no arrests have been made so far,” Sub-Inspector Mofoka said.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general, Teboho Sekata, who hails from Semonkong, described Mr Synman’s death as a huge loss for the community.

“He was a true leader who not only ministered the word of God but also fed the people and gave them jobs,” Mr Sekata said.

“At the time of his death, he was constructing a hospital for the people of Semonkong. Currently, the nearest hospital is in Roma, which is very far. Mr Snyman’s death therefore brings uncertainty to the future of that project, which was also employing several people,” Mr Sekata added.

The Semonkong Hospital Trust (SHT), set up by Mr Snyman to raise funds for the construction of the hospital which he was building, said the community was devastated by the news of his tragic death.

“It is with tremendous sadness and heavy hearts that we have to share with you that Francois Snyman was shot on Saturday night in his home. His wife and children were present but were unharmed.

“We would like to ask that you pray for his family as well as the community, who are all devastated.

“While playing a pivotal role in SHT as construction manager of the pilot phase of the Semonkong Hospital, Francois also established a number of ministry platforms from where he served the community. He helped to construct a primary school that provides schooling to more than 300 learners from Grade 1 to 7,” the trust said.

Mr Snyman was also known for farming initiatives which created 200 jobs for villagers and supplying fresh produce to the Semonkong Children’s Home and churches.

Mr Sekata said his murder was likely to scare off potential investors as the homicide rates kept increasing in Lesotho. While Semonkong is known for its tourist attraction, the Maletsunyane Falls, Mr Snyman’s killing could also scare away tourists, he said.

“I am worried that the continued killings could send a bad message to potential investors and tourists. I therefore, call upon the government to restore the rule of law and find Mr Snyman’s killers. The government must help us feel safe again,” Mr Sekata said.

Lesotho has in recent months made headlines on account of its unenviable homicide reputation. Earlier this year, the World Population Review ranked Lesotho sixth in the world in terms of murders.

According to the https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/murder-rate-by-country, 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.

Lesotho achieved a score of 41, 25 murders per 100 000 people. This is way higher than the world average murder rate of 7, 03 murders per 100 000 people according to the same website.

Neighbouring South Africa, with 33, 97 murders per 100 000 people, is the only other SADC country in the global top 10 rankings for the highest murders in the world.

Even war-ravaged SADC countries like Mozambique (3, 40 murders per 100 000 people) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (13, 55 murders per 100 000 people) have fared much better than Lesotho when it comes to homicide.

Contributing to Lesotho’s unenviable statistics are several brutal murders including the unresolved killings of women and children that have rocked the country in the past few years.

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