THREE men have been arrested in connection with the recent gruesome murders of two females in Ha Moseli, Mafeteng.
The three are Rethabile Melato (23), Tebello Mojakisane (21) and Moshe Mokhethi (18) of Makokotoaneng, Mafeteng.
They are accused of the callous murders of a woman and a teenager.
Deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka, told the Lesotho Times that the two now deceased, a 17-year-old girl and 20-year- old woman, left home at about 6pm on 26 July for the neighbouring village of Makokotoaneng where they often charged their mobile phones.
However, they never made it back home. They were found dead the next day not far from their Ha Moseli village.
Given that there were traces of semen on their bodies, there is a likelihood that they could have been raped before being butchered to death, Inspector Mofoka said. Their bodies were discovered by a passer-by, who then raised the alarm, the deputy police spokesperson added.
“The pair did not return home from Makokotoaneng where they had gone to charges their phones.
“One body was discovered with fractured limbs, stabbings, a badly smashed skull and traces of semen. The other body was found on the mountain with similar stab wounds and traces of semen as well,” Inspector Mofoka said.
A potential breakthrough into the gruesome murders has been made following the arrest of three men last week.
In an interview this week, police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said the trio appeared at the Mafeteng Magistrates’ Court last week. They were remanded in custody and they are due to reappear in the same court on 17 August 2022.
According to police reports, the three were arrested following a tip-off by a Makokotoaneng villager who said one of the alleged murderers had invited him to come and see the deceased’s corpses.
Senior Supt Mopeli said one of the suspects was also wanted in connection with a rape case and a string of other crimes.
The murders of the two females are part of five such gruesome killings of women recorded countrywide in the last week of July. No breakthroughs have been recorded regarding the other three murders which occurred in Ha-Tšolo, Masianokeng and Manyoreng (all in Maseru district).
Four women had been murdered in different parts of the country in the first week of July alone.
These murders came against the background of police disclosures that 144 people were murdered in May and June this year. Eighty-four of those killings were recorded in the month of May and another 60 people were murdered in June.
The escalating murders are a clear indication that Lesotho has sunk to new depths of depravity and callousness. The country faces the prospect of being shunned as an unsafe destination by international investors if the violent crimes continue.
The crimes have provoked an angry response and prompt action by the army.
Both Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Mojalefa Letsoela, and his deputy, Major General Matela Matobakele, have vowed to deal with the frighteningly rising crime levels.
Addressing a military parade last week at Makoanyane barracks, a visibly irate Lt-Gen Letsoela expressed concern about the high rate of crime including gun-related murders, armed robberies of businesses, private residences and thefts.
The army chief warned that the army would not sit idly by and watch criminals threaten the peace and scare away investors.
On his part, Maj-Gen Matela Matobakele said the army will stop at nothing to ensure that dangerous criminals, who have fled to South Africa after committing heinous crimes, are brought back to face justice in Lesotho.
In an interview last week with the South African media, Maj-Gen Matobakele said the LDF and the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) had last week engaged the South African authorities as part of renewed efforts to be allowed to flush out Basotho criminals hiding in various parts of the neighbouring country.
He said the army had previously visited Benoni, Randfontein and other parts of South Africa seeking to snuff out Basotho criminals. However, their efforts had failed due to complicated legal procedures barring them from conducting such operations in the neighbouring country.
However, the escalation of violent crimes by Basotho nationals in both countries in recent weeks, had led to renewed efforts to weed out criminals, Maj-Gen Matobakele said.
The army bosses have since backed up their tough talk with action. They have deployed soldiers to malls, roads and residential suburbs as part of efforts to tackle crime.
While the army has been conspicuous and is doing so much to fight crime, the police bosses have been quiet. Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli is yet to issue a public statement outlining measures to combat crime. Some of his officers have even been fingered in criminal activities themselves.