Yet another police officer gunned down

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 …sixth cop murder in three months, police are clueless

’Marafaele Mohloboli 

YET another police officer has been gunned down by unknown assailants.

Police Constable (PC) Mokilane Mokete’s murder on Saturday evening in Mapoteng, comes barely three days after the brutal killing of PC Selone Selone by unknown gunmen in Butha-Buthe last Wednesday.

Before that another officer, Sergeant Qetelo Letšela, was gunned down in Mokhotlong.

This is the sixth police officer murdered in just three months. Civilian murders are much higher and all this has only served to cement Lesotho’s dubious distinction among the top ten countries in the world for homicides.

Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, this week said PC Mokete, a member of the Special Operations Unit, met his untimely death when two men accosted him while he was walking home with a friend.

He said the two men did not utter a word but just opened fire on PC Mokete and his friend.

“PC Mokete and his friend ran for dear life, taking separate paths,” Snr Supt Mopeli said.

“But the assailants gave chase and caught up with PC Mokete and shot him dead. Mokete’s friend reported the matter to the deceased’s relatives and friends in a bid to get help. But their search was futile exercise as they couldn’t find him that same night.

“His body was only found the next morning after an old woman raised an alarm when she noticed a corpse lying not far from her home. The motive for the attack is not known but police are busy with their investigations,” Snr Supt Mopeli added.

His murder comes just three days after PC Selone’s killing. The latter was gunned just a week after the gruesome murder of Sergeant Letšela of Mapholaneng, Mokhotlong. He is said to have been gunned down by 10 members of the Kobo-kholo Famo group who had abducted him while he was on his way from hospital with his 12-year-old son.

In gory scenes reminiscent of horror movies, Sergeant Letšela’s mutilated body was thrown over a cliff.  The main artery at the back of his head had been slit open.

Four out of 10 suspects have so far been arrested in connection with his murder.

These are Sipho Ramoloko (31), Ntja-peli Ramoloko (34), Motlalepula Ramoloko (38) all from Khubelu Ha-Motlalepula and Qalanyane Mokotjo (26) of Mangaung, Mokhotlong.

They have since appeared before Mokhotlong magistrate, Makopano Taole, who remanded them in custody to 26 August 2021. On that day, they are expected to apply for bail and Magistrate Taole will also refer their case to the High Court.

According to the charge sheet, “all four did, by deception, or any other unlawful means deprive Police Sergeant Qetelo Letšela his freedom of movement or his liberty by taking him into their motor vehicle to a certain place, wherein they killed him”.

The police appear to be out of their depth and powerless to stop the killings of their colleagues.

They have also failed to stem the rising tide of civilians which have helped catapult Lesotho to within the top 10 of countries with the highest homicide rates in the world.

In fact, according to the https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/murder-rate-by-country, Lesotho is ranked number six in the world for murders. 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.

Famo gangs have been fingered in many of these killings. Over the years, it has however, become common for rival famo gangs to kill each other or each other’s relatives to settle vendettas.

Three weeks ago, the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Youth League slammed the government for failing to act against the spate of murders of police officers.

Addressing a press conference in Maseru, the LCD youth leader, Phetho Matla, said it was appalling to see politicians taking joy and comfort in growing their support base by embracing famo gangsters when they caused so much pain by killing innocent people.

Prime Minister Moeketsi has also described Famo gangs as terrorists. He has however, not articulated how the government plans to deal with them or to address the high homicide rates.

In a televised address this week, Police and Public Safety Minister, Lepota Sekola, called on police to desist from joining any of the Famo gangs.

“We condemn in the strongest words, the killing of our police officers and we also appeal to all security forces to desist from indulging in any activities that endanger their lives,” Mr Sekola said.

 

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