THE Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Women’s League has vowed to use the Women’s Month of August to protest in the nude if the government fails to provide “satisfactory” progress of the investigations into the fatal shooting of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, Lipolelo Thabane.
Ms Thabane was shot dead by an unknown assailant as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before Dr Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister for the second time.
A female companion of Ms Thabane also sustained serious injuries.
Investigations into the case are still ongoing, with no arrests as yet according to the police.
However, in a press conference held this week at the LCD headquarters in Maseru, the party bemoaned the lack of progress in the investigations, saying by now the suspects should have been apprehended.
LCD women’s league representative, Lineo Tlali, said while they did not have an interest in Ms Thabane’s death for its own sake, “she was a prominent person and we think that by now the assailants would have been found because the government said the past regime was ‘a regime of killers’.”
Dr Thabane returned to power last month after his All Basotho Convention (ABC) cobbled together a coalition government with the Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
They ousted a seven-party coalition which included the LCD after it could on muster 47 seats to the new government’s 63 seats. The threshold for forming government in the 120-seat National Assembly is 61 seats.
“We have written to the Minister of Police and copied the letter to the Lesotho Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), whose responses we are eagerly awaiting.
“We want them to help us make noise about this killing, and if our grievances are not responded to, in the month of August, we shall take to the streets naked if that’s what it takes for women get protection in our own country.
Women’s Month is celebrated in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 South African women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 9 August 1956 protesting against the extension of pass laws to women in that country.
Ms Tlali said they expected progress in the investigations “now that Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa was removed”.
Dr Thabane sent Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa on an involuntary 90-day leave and issued the top cop a “show cause” letter for why he should not be dismissed this week.
“It would only be fair that we see a change. We only thought that by now the assailants would be arrested, we therefore would like to see the police protecting all women and girls. This is just the beginning of many campaigns we are going to have towards their protection,” she said.
For her part, the deputy president of the LCD Women’s League, ’Maeketsang ’Molotsi, said: “The time has come for us to start a fund which will help us to pay private investigators on this matter.
“If a person of that status can be killed and we all go silent, that then means that we are all not safe in this country.”
Another member of the women’s league, Ntsekiseng Mona, said many other women had been brutally killed in the country, including the daughter in-law of Lithoteng constituency legislator, Lehlohonolo Moramotse of the ABC.
“We have decided to stand up and be heard and put an end to these senseless killings. We therefore appeal to the government and those conducting the investigations to wrap up their work in all sincerity, transparency and justice,” Ms Mona said.
FIDA and WLSA acknowledged receipt of the LCD letter and told the Lesotho Times they were working on a response.
Police spokesperson Inspector Mpiti Mopeli told this paper a naked protest would not be tolerated.
“The permit shall be processed with expressed terms and conditions and if they should parade the streets naked, that would be public indecency and that will be taken into consideration,” he said.
“I think this (the threat to protest naked) is just to emphasise how serious the matter is.”
Inspector Mopeli reiterated that no arrests had been made thus far but investigations were ongoing.