POLICE in Mafeteng have implored the Principal Chiefs of the district to suspend initiation school for up to five years in response to the increase in criminal activities that have been associated with the cultural activities.
The call comes in response to the several brutal killings that have been associated with participants of initiation schools where Famo music factions have also emerged and have dogged the district from as far back as 2011.
The Mafeteng District Commissioner of Police (DISPOL), Senior Superintendent Tseea Makara, said they had engaged the area chiefs regarding the matter but were yet to get a response.
He said for that reason theirs was to approach relevant people whom in this case are Principal Chiefs of the district if they can be able to suspend admissions for five years.
“We called them for a meeting in February 2018 to make the request and we presented our reasons for those requests,” DISPOL Makara said.
He however, said most of the chiefs sent representatives to the meeting.
“Due to their busy schedules, most sent representatives whom we believe have conveyed the message.
“We are now waiting for the responses because something needs to be done to reduce the crime rate in the district which is now influenced by initiation schools.”
He said suspension would allow the smooth running of the public education campaigns to conscientise the public about the negative effects of crime on society while at the same time it would restore the pride and trust of the initiation schools.
“The public, especially parents of young child are scared of the initiation schools because they have been turned into camps where conflicting factions end up fighting each other over flimsy grudges,” he said.
“We hope all the stakeholders respond so that we can move forward as this has gone on for too long. Initiation schools have been turned into businesses. Famo factions are promoted and they interfere with education where young children drop out of school to be initiated.
“In general, the initiation schools have promoted violence and even killings therefore this calls for public collaboration to tackle the vice.”
DISPOL Makara said their work seeking a solution was well within their mandate as the police tasked with the protection of the communities.
“As the police, we have no right to suspend initiation schools’ admissions because they are part of our Basotho culture but something has to be done about the vices that have tainted the values. This is now business and a ground where criminal activities are promoted,” DISPOL Makara said.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times recently, the Principal Chief of Matelile, Seeiso Moholobela, said in 2016 they engaged the initiation schools committee for talks to suspend admissions after a surge in criminal activities that were blamed on the initiates.
However, the committee appealed for the continuation of the initiation schools but the criminal activities continued as well.
He said the initiation schools have also been admitting children as young as 12 years instead of older people.
Chief Moholobela said he had to invoke his powers to block initiation schools since they have departed from their initial mandate.
“They do not even follow procedure and they admit children from ages of 12 up to 15 years old that are still dependent on their parents and cannot be initiated. For Matelile, we have agreed that the admissions be suspended for five years.
“It’s only wise that when we work on putting an end to the Famo factions and killings, admissions should be on hold so that we can be able to see progress.”