The latest and most worrisome casualty, it would appear, is the truth.
Until about two weeks ago, the nation only remembered the last of the Scott saga being how he made the much publicised sensational escape from Maseru Central Prison last year. Then, of course how his alleged partner in crime, his mother, was released and sent to a secret location earlier this year.
Enter Correctional Services Minister Mopatho Monyake with the bombshell: Scott had been captured with the help of private investigators in South Africa and he would be back in Lesotho in two weeks time to face the law.
Then came Justice and Human Rights Minister Haae Phoofolo casting doubt on Monyake’s claims. Phoofolo explained that extraditing Scott to Lesotho was not that easy. Phoofolo, the country’s most respected human rights lawyer, said from his experience extradition would not be automatic, especially given that South Africa, whose constitution banned capital punishment from its statute, would not give up Scott to be send to the gallows in Lesotho.
Adding to the confusion, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who is also the Minister of Police, released a statement maintaining that as far as he knew, the country’s law enforcement agents were still on the hunt for Scott.
Who should we believe?
Clearly, the truth is the biggest casualty here.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between all the claims being flaunted around.
In the absence of definitive facts, we are left with fewer options than to speculate.
What is worrying, of course, is that at least three centres of power in the coalition government are issuing three conflicting statements on a matter of such national importance.
Did Monyake jump the gun? Did he not consult the relevant security and legal clusters including the Prime Minister, the police, the ministry of justice and security agents before making his pronouncements.
If that is the case, then the question is: Why would the correctional services minister choose to just wake up and decide to go alone and make such an announcement on such a serious matter of national importance?
Can we dismiss all the three contradictory statements as symptomatic of a government in sixes and sevens?
What exactly is going on here? This nation deserves better. We deserve to know the truth. Could it be that there is more to all this than the arrest of Scott?
The government owes the nation a clear, unequivocal explanation without any delay. Anything short of a public statement clarifying the contradictory statements will only feed speculation and rumour and will likely erode people’s confidence in the coalition government.
Scott committed horrific crimes that transfixed this nation. He must be brought to book. It’s the government’s fault that he escaped from what should have been water-tight police custody. His murder cases transfixed this nation by virtue of their gruesome nature.
This surely cannot be a matter over which to play games.
We deserve to have one position from the government. If it turns out that Scott is not in custody as claimed by Monyake, then the Minister must be held accountable.
He would need to explain why he has taken this nation for a ride. In the end, this matter should not be that complicated. It’s either that Scott is in police custody in South Africa or he is not.
This is a simple matter over which the government can clarify without much ado. We need one position from the government. The incoherence demonstrated thus far and all the contradictory statements cannot be good for its reputation. Let’s clear the air. The sooner the better.