Senseless attacks and killings must end
“The earth is the Lord’ and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the water”.
Further, the Constitution of Lesotho, Section 5(1) provides: (under the heading Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms), “Every human being has an inherent right to life. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life”.
In the same vein the Penal Code Act, 2010, section 30, 65 and 72 stipulates that: “A person who intentionally applies unlawful force to the person of another, commits the offence of assault”, and under section 65 there in a series of offences that amount to “housebreaking”, and therefore constitute criminal conduct.
Housebreaking is universally defined as forcing one’s way into someone’s else’s house and thereby causing damage to the house.
Moreover, as earlier stated, section 72 of the same Act, provides that: “A person who, without lawful excuse, does any act with the intention of damaging property, even if singly or jointly owned or possessed, commits the offence of unlawful damage to property”.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of and the sanctity of human life, property and person as enshrined in the constitution and other legislations and, above all else and critically, the Holy Book.
These are universally and alternatively, called Constitutional Conventions, generally defined as, practices relating to the exercise of their functions by the Crown (Executive), the government, Parliament (Legislature) and the Judiciary that at certain times, depending on their scope, are not legally enforceable but are commonly followed as if they were.
One of the most important constitutional conventions is that the state or government must ensure that the security of all its citizens and property under its territory should be ensured.
As a corollary, the state, through its critical institutions and organs such as the army, the courts and the police service, must ensure that its citizens and all persons inside its geographical borders enjoy certain fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution, the Supreme Law.
With constitutional conventions, there are a multiplicity of factors why the state has to follow them, else government would not function properly or in a worst case scenario, we refer to such as a failed state.
Furthermore, their violations would create serious tension between the governed and the government. It would erode public confidence in the government of the day.
The underlying reason for obeying these conventions by any government and of course, the citizenry, is to ensure that the machinery of government should function smoothly.
In light of the foregoing scenario, it is therefore imperative for this article to interrogate the following two events that occurred to prominent citizens of this country.
Firstly, the Lesotho Times story of the May 14 2015 edition, under the headline “Matekane’s home burgled” makes for disturbing reading.
It is reported in the piece that: “Ministry of Police Principal Secretary Refiloe Matekane’s Maseru West government residence was on Sunday broken into and wrecked by unknown assailants ….
The break-in occurred four days after the withdrawal of Mr Matekane and Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka’s Lesotho Mounted Police Security by Acting Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng who had found the around-the-clock protection ‘unnecessary’.”
“Mr Matekane was granted security soon after the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) simultaneously attacked Police Headquarters, Maseru Central Charge Office and Mabote Police Station on 30th August, 2014, in what then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane described as an attempted coup.”
What is disturbing is that contrary to the previous government’s decision to grant the PS a police security detail, the Acting LMPS Commissioner Monaheng, who is incidentally a subordinate of the PS, withdrew this security detail.
Understandably, Mr Matekane fears for his life and had to hire private security. This, he is doing while the ministry which he heads can still extend security detail to him.
Impliedly, this calls into question the wisdom of the acting commissioner’s decision to withdraw secu- rity for the PS.
Mr Matekane, notwithstanding the fact that he is a very senior government official and a law-abiding, taxpaying citizen of this country, is entitled to and ought to be granted security by the Acting Commissioner, yet the latter saw it fit to withdraw such security detail.
In the same newspaper elsewhere, it is reported that a prominent businessman and philanthropist Thabiso Tšosane was killed by a hail of gunshots at around 20:30hrs last Saturday evening by an unknown assailant.
It is reported that the deceased was one of those men who dedicated his life, to fighting poverty and hunger. It is said he contributed so much to the economic growth of Lesotho as a whole.
He was an entrepreneur in the transport and construction industries.
“Mr Tšosane did not only take care of his family but also more than 1000 less-priviledged families,” according to the story.
The deceased’s life was cruelly cut short at the peak of his powers when he was going to benefit not only his family and employees as well as the transport and construction industries, but also the entire nation in terms of his philanthropic work of social upliftment for the less-priviledged members of our community.
Indeed, speaker after speaker at his home passing condolences bemoaned how he employed scores of Basotho and thereby extended a helping hand to scores of dependents to help them eke out a living.
However, I cannot help but bemoan the utterances attributed to some of the mourners who are very prominent politicians, who reportedly vowed to avenge his death.
They reportedly vowed that: “. . . our enemies’ families must cry the way we are crying today: we can’t let horrific crimes like this go unpunished” (sic).
Unless I am quoting these speakers out of context, to which I stand subject to correction, we cannot tol- erate our leaders preaching violence and revenge.
Our leaders ought to, as role models, teach their followers that this orgy and cycle of violence ought to stop, forthwith.
Such utterances, if taken to their literal meaning, which is inflammatory, can lead to disastrous consequences for the whole country, our moral conscience and social fabric as a peace-loving nation.
This nation was founded on ethos of peace. Our greeting is “Khotso”, meaning peace. Our forefathers, Moshoeshoe I, called “peace” his sister, so to speak.
However, in all fairness to these politicians, much as I appreciate the magnitude of their loss, we ought to urge them to exercise restraint, in fact civility and diplomacy in their public utterances.
But this does not detract from the magnitude of the loss. It is heart-breaking and the huge void left by this irreplaceable personality is too huge to fill.
However, we ought to give peace a chance, no matter the circumstances.
This is why I believe these utterances were a knee-jerk reaction at the spur-of-the-moment. They are, however, regrettable.
Politicians, as role models and leaders, should not allow themselves to be pushed-over the edge by rabble-rousers. They should remain calm and civil throughout.
I am not far-off the mark, when I caution that utterances like these can lead to a cycle of violence that can escalate to a proxy civil war.
The situation is too volatile and the nation is on edge. This nation cannot afford an escalated civil war, let alone further deepen the acute polarisation.
However, no one has a right, except through a lawful court order, to end someone’s life. Period!
I strongly urge all the relevant stakeholders, particularly the politicians across the spectrum, the transport and construction industry leaders to let that institution of government, the police, to investigate and unravel these utterly dastardly deeds before coming to conclusions that we will all later regret.
The situation is too volatile and fluid. It calls for sound analytical minds and leadership. It therefore calls on all those affected to let justice run its course.
As for the government, I strongly urge it to take all necessary measures to ensure the security of all persons it governs, irrespective of political persuasions.
In short, government must unleash the full might of the law and its agencies to abide by the said constitutional conventions.
It is the primary responsibility of government and its security institutions to ensure the security of all its citizens in an impartial manner.
If these unfortunate incidents go unresolved and therefore unpunished, it will lead to an orgy and cycle of violence that this nation can ill-afford, it call for strong decisive leadership to rein-in the errand to plunge our beloved country into chaos and become ungovernable.
Ministry of Police PS Refiloe Matekane.
The late Thabiso Tšosane.