Decisive action needed to stem gun violence
As reported elsewhere in this edition, five lives were claimed this week owing to gun violence which has become endemic in Lesotho. this time, the victims were massacred in what is believed to be a Famo turf war.
this is the latest in a series of eerily similar stories we have heard over the years. Unknown gunmen opened fire and shot the victims point blank, only to disappear and never to be heard from again — until the next shooting, that is. Meanwhile the police then customarily reassure us that investigations are underway and that the “perpetrators will be brought to book”. that would be the end of that, and sooner rather than later, we will again grapple with another gun-related incident.
It is thus no exaggeration that there is a small-scale civil war being waged across the country since illegal guns seem to be available to all and sundry.
Although statistics on gun violence in Lesotho are not readily available, the rampant instances of gun violence paint a depressing picture of a nation at war with itself.
Even though police say a lot of illegal firearms have been confiscated and surrendered, there are still too many illegal guns in the hands of the public.
As SADC Commission of Inquiry chairperson, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, noted during the testimony of Lesotho Defence Force Commander Lieutenant General tlali Kamoli last month, Basotho have normalized the ubiquity of firearms. Lt Gen Kamoli even joked that guns were as commonplace among Basotho as the Moshoeshoe blanket.
While these remarks were said in jest, the high number of injuries and fatalities owing to gun battles in Lesotho is no joke.
Government and Basotho should see this problem for what it is; a national crisis. Many young and productive lives are being lost because of access to guns. Addressing this problem should top government’s priority list because no one is immune to the deleterious effects of a gun. No one is safe, and more concerted efforts should be made on the part of law enforcement agencies to nip this trend, which is clearly out of control, in the bud.