…as two Butha-Buthe supermarkets go up in flames
Deputy Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng has vowed to end the wave of violent crime which has rocked the nation in recent months.
Mr Monaheng made the promise this week following the burning down of two Butha-Buthe supermarkets and the national Pitso House in Leribe on Sunday night.
The deputy commissioner told a press conference held in Maseru on Tuesday that the police would do whatever it takes to bring the perpetrators to book, while he also condemned famo-related shootings which continue to claim the lives of Basotho.
Butha-Buthe residents were shocked to see Shoprite U-Save Store and an adjacent supermarket owned by an Indian businessman smoldering on Monday morning, with the fire destroying goods and infrastructure worth millions of maloti.
Stalls which were close to the two buildings, also caught fire leaving their owners devastated.
“My message, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, is very short and precise regarding these very serious issues. We are saying to the perpetrators of these unfortunate incidents that they should stop what they are doing with immediate effect. We are saying this because we are aware that there is a syndicate or syndicates of members of the community who are not happy with something and are seeking revenge through these illegal activities,” Mr Monaheng said.
“They are doing this to pass their message that they are dissatisfied with something. We are appealing to you, men and women, to immediately stop what you are doing. The route you have taken has bitter consequences because you are provoking the police to act harshly against you.
“As the police, we are given the mandate to protect people and their property. We are appealing to you that if you are not satisfied with anything in this country, you should follow the right procedures based on the law.
“The laws are clear and the route you have taken is the wrong one. People seem to have forgotten that when they take the law into their own hands and commit crimes like these, the police will take serious action against them. The police are authorised to use force where we deem it is necessary to do so.
“I repeat, you should be aware that the police have been vested with powers to use force in their operations, especially when there are disturbing incidents like these. I am warning men and women behind these acts that as you do this, be prepared to face the bitter consequences. Those who have ears will hear. As the police, we are going to do all we can to use the force that we have to stop these criminal acts. We will hit hard on you.
“Burning supermarkets and the national Pitso House is beyond simple crimes of arson. This is insurgency; it is sabotage, a very serious crime in terms of the Internal Security Act.”
Asked what he meant by “people dissatisfied with something”, Mr Monaheng would not elaborate.
“I can only go as far as confirming that the people who are doing this are dissatisfied residents of this country, and also that investigations are still going on. I can also say we are already on the trail of the suspects and no one has been arrested as yet.”
Meanwhile, Police Minister Monyane Moleleki visited Butha-Buthe on Tuesday and condemned the burnings as “a threat to the nation”.
“These are acts of people who are not happy that they are not in government,” Mr Moleleki said.