MASERU — All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane is one of the people who contributed to the transformation of Lephatšoe “Selomo” Lebajoa from a hardcore gangster to a man of peace that he had become before he met his death on Saturday night.
Four unknown gunmen pumped eight bullets into Selomo on Saturday before disappearing into the night.
Selomo leaves a wife and two children.
If his murder was related to the famo gang wars then those who wanted him killed must have nursed their grudge for many years.
Yes Selomo was once a feared
gangster but that notoriety only lasted until he met Thabane in 2006 in Mafeteng at a funeral of one famo gang member.
From that meeting Selomo began to shun gang violence and worked to bring peace amongst the gangs.
The meeting between Selomo and Thabane happened at the height of the famo gang wars between Selomo’s Fito and Mosotho Chakela’s Terene.
Members of the two groups were slaying each other in gruesome murders.
Casualties were running into dozens and people in Mafeteng were living in fear.
At that time Thabane was still the home affairs minister in government.
Thabane had come to the conclusion that “these senseless murders must stop”.
“The situation was getting out of control so I decided to intervene,” Thabane recalls.
But how to meet Selomo and Chakela was a problem because the groups were suspicious of government officials, especially those like Thabane who were connected to the police.
There was no way Thabane could just pick the phone and speak to either Chakela or Selomo.
But after many failed attempts Thabane got a breakthrough.
He heard that one of the gang members had died and decided to attend his funeral at a village outside Mafeteng.
It was at the funeral that Thabane met Selomo for the first time.
Thabane says he was particularly pleased that Selomo himself was getting tired of the fights and wanted peace.
And thus began a series of meetings between Selomo and Chakela.
Those meetings brought an end to the gang-related killings.
Selomo and Chakela, once sworn enemies, became very close friends.
“The two men shook hands and became friends. From there gang-related murders became rare.”
When Thabane left the government Selomo and Chakela were among the first people to join his ABC party.
Using his musical talent Selomo soon became somewhat of a “jukebox” at ABC rallies.
“The new Selomo channelled his energy towards building the ABC. His gang members also joined our party. He sincerely believed in peace. He was a changed man”.
Unfortunately his enemies didn’t seem to agree and continued to harass him.
Last year two men were arrested and jailed for plotting to kill him.
On Saturday night his enemies finally succeeded in ending his life.
Thabane does not want to take the credit for helping in Selomo’s transformation and insists the popular famo artist “changed because he really wanted to change”.