Famo turf war claims five lives

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

“Un­til peo­ple lose their wives and chil­dren or have whole fam­i­lies wiped off from the face of the earth, they will con­tinue to mer­ci­lessly gun down in­no­cent by­standers like th­ese two young boys who were killed in Maseru yes­ter­day,” said pop­u­lar famo mu­si­cian Mosotho Chakela.

Chakela made the grim state­ment on tues­day — a day af­ter two teenagers aged 19 and 16 — were gunned down in Sea-point be­tween 7-8pm.

it is sus­pected the teenagers were vic­tims of a famo turf war which has claimed over 20 lives since 2009.

the two Sehlabeng-sa-thuoathe teens, along­side famo artistes le­pe­le­sana and Botlenyana, died in­stantly af­ter un­known gun­men opened fire dur­ing a brief meet­ing near Me­mo­rial Hall.

the de­ceased 19-year-old is son to famo mu­sic-pro­ducer, Jus­tice Mpitsa, who sur­vived the shoot­ing along­side an­other famo artist. the 16-year-old was a friend of Mpitsa’s son.

the Sea-point shoot­ing, which left the mu­sic industry shell-shocked, came hardly a day af­ter a 35-year-old tha­bana-morena man was found dead with gun­shot wounds in thet­sane on Sun­day morn­ing. it is sus­pected the thet­sane killing was also famo-re­lated and could have taken place Satur­day night.

Po­lice spokesper­son Clif­ford Molefe con­firmed the killings but said it was too soon to con­clude any­thing as in­ves­ti­ga­tions were un­der­way.

“it is true four peo­ple were killed while two were in­jured dur­ing the Sea-point shoot­ing which took place on Mon­day be­tween 7 and 8 pm,” Se­nior in­spec­tor Molefe said.

“Po­lice are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent so at the mo­ment, i can­not say whether or not the killings were linked to famo. no ar­rests have been made in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dent.”

On the thet­sane killing, Se­nior in­spec­tor Molefe said: “the po­lice found a tha­banaMorena man dead in thet­sane. it is sus­pected he was shot af­ter a famo mu­sic fes­ti­val at AME Hall on Satur­day night.”

two Mafeteng famo gangs nick­named terene and Seakhi, have been at war over brag­ging-rights and their fight­ing has since be­come one of the most di­vi­sive top­ics in le­sotho due to its po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones.

the ri­vals are iden­ti­fied by the colour of their blan­kets.

nar­rat­ing Mon­day night’s tragedy to the Le­sotho Times, Mr Mpitsa said the meet­ing in Sea-point was about his pend­ing work-re­lated trip to Jo­han­nes­burg.

Most of th­ese killings are car­ried out by sup­port­ers; the killings are in­flu­enced by mes­sages con­tained in our songs. We might be view­ing them as mere lyrics, but the fans take the mes­sages very se­ri­ously, so we must be care­ful of what we say in our songs

“i drove to Sea-point, to­gether with my son and his friend; we went there to col­lect a com­puter hard-drive i was go­ing to use in Jo­han­nes­burg. the hard-drive was with th­ese artists,” Mpitsa said.

Min­utes af­ter their ar­rival at the hall, Mpitsa said un­known men ar­rived and opened fire on them.

“i was also shot but man­aged to sur­vive along­side an­other artist, but my son died in the shoot­ing, his friend, and two other artistes,” he said.

Seakhi leader, Bereng ‘lekase’ Ma­joro, said he was very sad­dened by th­ese lat­est de­vel­op­ments.

“this all started when ( famo mu­si­cian) Ran­tšo was gunned down years ago as per the in­struc­tions of a cer­tain prom­i­nent artist. this war will only end if this artist or­ders his sup­port­ers to cease­fire,” Lekase said on Tues­day. .

the killings, he added, could be an in­di­ca­tion the industry is filled with un­pro­gres­sive in­di­vid­u­als.

“it is bad. i was re­ally sad when i re­ceived a po­lice call con­cern­ing this in­ci­dent; it shouldn’t have hap­pened,” lekase said.

“We have in­formed the author­i­ties on many oc­ca­sions, who is re­spon­si­ble for this war but he seems un­touch­able.

“this artist must shoul­der the blame for this war be­cause he has failed to rein-in his sup­port­ers. “the same mu­si­cian or­dered the killing of two Seakhi artists two months into peace talks ini­ti­ated by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment led by Ntate tha­bane.

“So un­less this un­touch­able in­di­vid­ual or­ders a cease­fire, no amount of talks will end this war. Peo­ple will con­tinue to die un­til this in­di­vid­ual comes to his senses and puts an end to what he started years ago.”

On his part, terene leader, Mosotho Chakela, warned blood would con­tinue to flow un­til artists be­come united.

“Un­til peo­ple lose their wives and chil­dren or have whole fam­ily mem­bers wiped off the face of the earth, they will con­tinue to mer­ci­lessly gun down in­no­cent by­standers like those two young boys,” Chakela warned.

He fur­ther said it would only be through the com­mit­ment of artists them­selves that the fight­ing is go­ing to stop.

“Most of th­ese killings are car­ried out by sup­port­ers; the killings are in­flu­enced by mes­sages con­tained in our songs. We might be view­ing them as mere lyrics, but the fans take the mes­sages very se­ri­ously, so we must be care­ful of what we say in our songs,” Chakela added.

How­ever, he warned killing each other would only drag com­mu­ni­ties back­wards.

“Spilling blood will never bring peace be­tween terene and Seakhi; it will only worsen the sit­u­a­tion. i hon­estly be­lieve bring­ing cer­tain prom­i­nent Seakhi and terene artists to the ta­ble will end this war.

“the rea­son why the past coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to fa­cil­i­tate a peace deal be­tween Seakhi and terene didn’t work was sim­ply lack of com­mit­ment from the artists.”

Mean­while, the le­sotho Mu­sic Rights As­so­ci­a­tion has con­demned the killings.

The as­so­ci­a­tion’s pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, tšepang nyaka-nyaka Makakole, said the shoot­ings had hit the mu­sic industry hard.

“the killings come at a time we are try­ing to work to­gether as artists, and put an end to mu­sic piracy in le­sotho. in­stead of pulling to­gether, we kill each other so how do we ex­pect the industry to grow?” Makakole said.

He warned gov­ern­ment to tread cau­tiously when deal­ing with the famo war and be “neu­tral” when en­gag­ing the war­ring fac­tions.

“Gov­ern­ment must be neu­tral when deal­ing with this is­sue, and gang-lead­ers from both sides must be ac­tively in­volved when a peace deal is be­ing worked out.”

Po­lice Spokesper­son Se­nior in­spec­tor clif­ford Molefe

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