BEREA — A village chief in Berea district was allegedly brutally murdered by men from his village on Sunday after he refused to attend an initiation school.
Chief Letela Malisa Ramontšuoe, 35, was allegedly seized from a bar in Ha- Ramontšuoe on Sunday morning by a group of men from his village.
The suspects are alleged to have “frog-marched” him to an initiation school in the neighbouring village of Masaleng in the Thaba-Bosiu area.
By the time they arrived at the initiation school Ramontšuoe had bruises all over his body.
His ribs had been broken, according to his younger brother Ramonne Malisa.
The son of the initiation school owner refused to accept Ramontšuoe who was already dead.
Instead he called men from his village to help him arrest those who had brought the body.
The villagers managed to arrest some while others escaped.
Those who escaped were arrested by the Sefikeng police.
Malisa said Ramontšuoe had been stripped of his blood-stained clothes.
“His attackers had dressed him in a pair of trousers and a T-shirt that were not his,” Malisa said.
Malisa told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that he could not believe it when he was told that Ramontšuoe was dead.
“I thought it was one of those silly jokes,” said Malisa who had seen the chief two days before he died.
He said he believed that the men who murdered Ramontšuoe did not like being led by a chief who had not been initiated.
He said there were rumours that some men were not happy that their chief was “a boy”, a belittling reference of the initiated against the uninitiated.
Malisa said he was informed that Ramontsuoe was taken from the bar at around 4am on Sunday.
“I suspect that my brother has been killed merely because he was not interested in going to initiation schools,” Malisa said.
“In our family no one has ever gone to initiation school, even our father did not go to the school. I don’t know why they would force my brother to do something he did not like”.
“No one has ever complained about my brother as a chief. He was a good leader as far as I know,” he said.
Police spokesperson Thato Ramarikhoane said the police were still to receive a report about the matter at the time of going to print.
In the Sesotho culture men who have not been to an initiation school are considered boys.
There is a general belief that initiation schools are where “boys” are trained to become “men”.
It is common for men and boys in Lesotho to be forced to attend initiation schools.
The majority however do so voluntarily.
Others attend the school to avoid being taunted by those who have been initiated.
It is not uncommon for men as old as 60 to attend initiation school.
Traditional healer Malefetsane Lepheane said initiation is voluntary.
“It is against the Laws of Lerotholi to force a person to undergo initiation,” Lepheane said.
“Even if that person has said things that he is not supposed to say against an initiation school there is no need to beat them.”