MAFETENG — Families that lost their loved ones in deadly famo gang wars say they will not be satisfied until the killers have been arrested and punished.
The families told a meeting called by the government on Monday that their wounds are still fresh and only a crackdown against the killers will satisfy them.
They urged the government to arrest and prosecute the murderers “to ensure that similar crimes are not repeated”.
The meeting was called by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Molobeli Soulo, Deputy Minister for Local Government Selibe Mochoboroane and Social Development Minister ’Matebatso Doti.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss what could be done to compensate and comfort families that lost their loved ones in the clashes between the Terene and Seakhi famo groups since 2009.
’Mamoeketsi Moliko, the wife of popular radio presenter Thabang Moliko who was killed on March 29 this year for his alleged links to Terene, said all she wants is justice to be done.
Moliko’s sentiments were shared by ’Matseli Seutloali from Likoung in Mafeteng, whose son Tumelo Seutloali was shot nine times in Bloemfontein on June 23 for being a Terene artiste and ’Mamokete Sekoai whose two sons Mokete and Motsamai Sekoai were shot and killed in 2009.
’Mareitumetse Monyane, 24, from Ha-Monyane in Mafeteng, also wants the law to take its course following the murder of her husband Mahase Monyane.
Monyane was shot several times in 2010.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times at the meeting during a break Moliko said although she appreciated the government’s decision to reconcile the warring camps and reach out to the widows and orphans of the victims “it’s just not enough”.
“I will not be satisfied until the law has taken its course regarding my husband’s murderers,” Moliko said.
“I will never be happy as long as government’s stance is that we forgive the people who planned my husband’s death and not ensuring that they pay for what they did.”
She said the government should ensure that famo murder cases already in court are speeded up and for “harsh sentences to be issued”.
“Our courts of law should deal with them as soon as possible and sentences issued should be harsh so that the killers know what it’s like to be in pain,” Moliko said.
“For the killers who are still in South Africa, our government should work together (with South Africa) so that they are extradited back to Lesotho to face the music.”
Moliko added she fears that if the killers are not brought to book “it will set a bad precedence and teach others that it’s okay to kill”.
“A murderer takes another person’s life, thus depriving them of their right to live, only to be given bail while you mourn the loss of your loved one,” Moliko lamented.
“Court cases also drag for months if not years, thus giving the killers the freedom to roam the streets.”
Moliko also recommended that there be a commission of inquiry set up by the Lesotho government “where the killers will all confess”.
“It will also enable us to have a clear picture of how many people were killed from each camp and establish what really led to the senseless killings,” Moliko said.
She says she is looking after her three sons aged 16, 11 and three.
“I’m a very bitter woman right now. My heart has been bleeding since the day he died. He catered for his children’s needs but I can’t do it alone,” Moliko said.
Moliko also scoffed at the idea that a fund to look after the widows and orphans of victims will be set up using moneys generated from concerts organised by the Terene and Seakhi groups.
“How can government promise us monies from concerts of which we’re not guaranteed will even materialise?” Moliko asked.
“Just because we’re poor and vulnerable, the expectation is that we should accept any offer that’s put on the table. We need something sustainable, set up by government,” she said.
’Matšeli Seutloali, who is also still reeling from her 25-year-old son’s murder, said she knew of threats by Seakhi members to kill her son.
“My son was an artiste for Terene and in November 2011 before he died he told me that there were Seakhi (Letlama) members who were threatening to kill him,” Seutloali said.
Seutloali said the wounds in her heart are still fresh and that she sometimes wishes she could die “so that I can see my son again”.
She said what frightens her is that her other son is also at risk of being killed in Bloemfontein where he lives.
“He refuses to come back saying that if Letlama want to kill him, they can do it wherever he is. The thought of losing him too scares me so much,” she said.
Sekoai said it still feels surreal almost three years after losing her sons “because it’s as though they are not yet gone”.
She said although she is sure the police have an idea who killed her sons there has been no official word.
“I haven’t heard anything from the police since they were killed. About four witnesses said they saw people shooting at my boys,” Sekoai says.
“I’m convinced the police know who they are and I will only rest when they are arrested and sentenced.”
Unlike Moliko, Sekoai said she was grateful that at least Prime Minister Thomas Thabane seemed committed to helping where he can.
“I’m glad they have thought of us because nothing has been done since my children were killed in 2009. At least this government is showing compassion,” Sekoai said.
“I just worry so much when I can’t provide for their orphaned children who look to me for their daily bread. My sons were the sole breadwinners and supported us totally.”
The eyes of Tšokolo Matsapa, who said he is in his late eighties and originates from Ha-Lesia, brimmed with tears as he narrated in a shaky voice how his son Thabang Matsapa was killed on his way from a funeral in the area.
“The person who killed my son came to the village carrying two guns and took my son’s life. He did what he came there to do and walked away. He’s still alive,” Matsapa said.
“They have taken away my son and I have no one to provide for me.”
The killer’s family should also go through similar pain, Matsapa said.
“If my family cries for Thabang to date, the killer’s family should cry too.”
Thabang was killed in 2010.
’Mareitumetse Monyane, whose husband Mahase was gunned down before her eyes near a local shearing shed in Ha-Monyane, said she will not rest until the killers are arrested.
“I cannot rest until the day I’m told those two men I saw shooting my husband are arrested and punished,” Monyane said.
For three months after Mahase, a Terene supporter, was killed life was a blur to Monyane as she could not fathom anything that was going on around her.
“For three months I was on medication from the psychiatric ward at Mafeteng Hospital. I fainted the minute he was shot and was in and out of consciousness for days,” Monyane said.
“The trauma was so intense that I only came to on the Monday after his burial, to find myself dressed in black mourning clothes.
“My husband’s killers don’t deserve to be roaming the streets”, she said.
Monyane added that since the horrendous ordeal “I shiver when I see men dressed in black clothes”.
Mahase’s murderers wore black clothes.