By Tsitsi Matope
MASERU — Two thieves reportedly broke into the home of a police constable in Ha-Mokotsoane to steal his cap for ritual purposes.
Officer Commanding Lithoteng Police, Senior Inspector Chadwick Sehloho, yesterday told the Lesotho Times the criminals, aged 27 and 17, were desperate for the police emblem after consulting a traditional healer, who reportedly said he could make them a “protection concoction” from the embroidered insignia.
“The two suspects broke into the house of Constable Teboho Makatle on the night of March 28, armed with a toy gun.
“They stole his cap and also tried to steal all his household property but failed when he suddenly returned home. They then fled the scene, leaving the constable’s property outside his house, but taking the cap with them,” Sehloho said.
Despite undergoing the protection ritual, in which, according to Sehloho, the crown was cut into pieces and mixed with some traditional medicines to be applied by the suspects before committing a crime, the suspects were arrested this week.
“We arrested the 27-year-old yesterday after we had arrested his teenage-accomplice and another suspect in his 30s he had operated with in Semonkong, on Monday, and was wanted for car-theft. We also questioned the 48-year-old traditional healer who also happened to be the 27-year-old suspect’s brother-in-law,” Sehloho said.
Sehloho further said the traditional healer confirmed he had conducted the protection ritual using the police crown.
“However, the healer said when he told his wife’s brother that a crown from the police cap was needed, his brother-in-law had indicated he would get the cap from a friend.
“We have let him go for now, while we continue with our investigations. Importantly, we have reason to suspect that this is not the only police cap he has worked with,” Sehloho said.
Following Tuesday’s arrest, police recovered stolen household property at the 27-year-old suspect’s home in Ha-Ntširele.
“He had made the property he stole in Lithabaneng his own. Almost everything in the house, including groceries and curtains, was stolen. The property was positively identified by the owner.”
Police also recovered groceries worth more than M5 000 from the house of the other suspect wanted for stealing a car.
“We have applied for an extension in detention, to allow the three suspects to assist us in other crimes which took place in areas under our jurisdiction. They have also been to Semonkong to help us resolve some pending cases of housebreaking and theft.”
In an interview at Lithoteng Police Station yesterday, the 28-year-old constable Makatle said when he returned home at around 8pm and found the door open, the lights on and his property outside, he suspected a burglary was in progress.
“I rushed to inform my two neighbours and when I returned, I fired once in the air to make sure there was no one in the house. And when I checked, there was no one in the house.”
After he reported the matter to the police and became part of the investigating team, Makatle said he realised how lucky he had been.
“We suspect the three are part of a syndicate that was terrorising residents in this area. I was lucky that I came home while the suspects were waiting for a friend to bring a van so they could load all my property. This is how the suspects said they operated.”
Makatle said with the help of members of the public, they were able to arrest the young suspect before they picked one of the two outstanding suspects’ girlfriend.
“With the cooperation of the girlfriend, we were able to track down the other two suspects,” Makatle said.