Min­is­ter vows to hunt down killers

. . . as eye wit­nesses speak out

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki has vowed that the govern­ment will leave no stone un­turned in hunt­ing down gun­men who shot and killed four peo­ple in a bar lo­cated at Ha Man­tšebo bus-stop in Qeme, on Sun­day, in yet an­other tragic and sense­less killing to grip the coun­try in re­cent times.

The gun­men stormed the bar and opened fire, killing three peo­ple on the spot and in­jur­ing seven oth­ers. One of the in­jured peo­ple died a day later in hos­pi­tal. Three of the de­ceased have been iden­ti­fied as Lebese Molemela, Tumello Ko­bile and Pali Ko­bile, who are cousin brothers. The name of the fourth de­ceased has not yet been con­firmed.

The All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) has claimed that all the vic­tims were its sup­port­ers com­ing from of a party rally in Qeme. The Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) has how­ever, dis­missed th­ese claims.

Min­is­ter Moleleki also said the mo­tive of the shoot­ing was un­known and called for pa­tience to al­low the po­lice to do their in­ves­ti­ga­tions be­fore rush­ing to con­clu­sions.

Min­is­ter Moleleki vis­ited the homes of some of the de­ceased in the com­pany of Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Mo­lahlehi Let­soepa, Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Jankie Hlaahla, who heads the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment, and Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Mpota Nthako, who heads the Crime Preven­tion Depart­ment.

The Min­is­ter’s en­tourage also in­cluded District Com­mis­sioner (Maseru Ru­ral Po­lice) Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Mo­fo­keng Kolo and Po­lice Spokesper­son Se­nior In­spec­tor Clifford Molefe.

Min­is­ter Moleleki first toured the scene of the tragedy and was given an eye­wit­ness ac­count of what tran­spired by Tumo Mabot­sane, who dis­pelled al­le­ga­tions that the gun­men had tar­geted mem­bers of the ABC.

“I es­caped the shoot­ing by God’s grace and I am still in shock. Only about four of us left the bar un­harmed. One of the de­ceased was a neigh­bour that I don’t re­call see­ing or be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the ABC or the Demo­cratic Congress,” said Mr Mabot­sane.

He nar­rated how the four gun­men had ar­rived at the bar and started shoot­ing at peo­ple who were drink­ing out­side be­fore go­ing in­side and open­ing fire while rob­bing rev­ellers of cash and cell­phones.

An­other eye wit­ness who works at a nearby bar, Tha­hane Mohlouoa, said she equally did not think that the shoot­ings were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. She said she had seen no one wear­ing party re­galia. The fact that pa­trons had been robbed re­flected more of a rob­bery than political mo­tive.

From the bar, the min­is­ter vis­ited the fam­ily of one of the de­ceased, Lebese Molemela, and ex­pressed his grief while con­vey­ing his per­sonal con­do­lences and that of the govern­ment.

“We heard of the tragedy that hap­pened to your fam­i­lies here in Qeme on Sun­day night. We are deeply shocked by the shoot­ing. We are also full of great anger…….

“This tragedy has threat­ened and shocked the govern­ment and the peo­ple of Le­sotho. We don’t know what you sus­pect to have been the cause of the killings. I have learned that th­ese gun­men robbed the bar and took cell­phones and mu­sic-mix­ers from the bar,” Mr Moleleki said, sug­gest­ing this could have been a rob­bery.

The min­is­ter then em­pha­sised that no amount of con­do­lences could out­weigh the need to work hard to ar­rest the killers.

He also ap­pealed to the fam­ily not to hes­i­tate call­ing him per­son­ally should they have any in­for­ma­tion that could lead to the ar­rest of the killers. The min­is­ter then gave the Molemela fam­ily his con­tact de­tails and those of the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and his as­sis­tants.

“With the help of the com­mu­nity, we hope that we will ar­rest th­ese crim­i­nals. God will heal your bro­ken hearts. It’s not com­pre­hen­si­ble how some­one can just open fire and shoot so many peo­ple with­out ask­ing any ques­tions or say­ing any­thing,” said Mr Moleleki.

For his part, Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Let­soepa told the Le­sotho Times it ap­peared the killings were a crim­i­nal act. There were no signs of the shoot­ings be­ing po­lit­i­cally linked, he added.

“We learned about the painful in­ci­dent that oc­curred here. We found it be­fit­ting, as ser­vants of the peo­ple, to come to con­vey our con­do­lences di­rectly state that we will do our best to bring the cul­prits to book.

“We felt we needed to come and see this crime scenes and to visit the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the shoot­ings. Al­though we re­ceived the re­ports, we felt we needed to come here by our­selves and hear what re­ally tran­spired here. Crime in­ves­ti­ga­tions are like puz­zles and they need many brains and many skills sets’ in­volve­ment….,” said Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa.

He also hinted that if the need arose, the LMPS would en­list the as­sis­tance of other sis­ter law en­force­ment agen­cies in and out­side the coun­try in hunt­ing down the cul­prits.

Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa said the main is­sue for him was “restor­ing the peo­ple’s trust and faith” in the LMPS.

Com­mis­sioner Let­soepa fur­ther told the Le­sotho Times that felt he could not sit be­hind a desk while “crimes like this are be­ing per­pe­trated against peo­ple we took oath to serve and pro­tect”.

He said there was no ev­i­dence that the killings were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

“What we can say at this stage is that peo­ple from dif­fer­ent political af­fil­i­a­tions were af­fected by the shoot­ings. We will in­ves­ti­gate and find out what re­ally hap­pened here. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion brings out the truth and noth­ing else. It’s not a mat­ter of pre­dic­tions but of go­ing to the truth of the mat­ter”.

He said the LMPS had found it fit­ting for the crime preven­tion depart­ment and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions de­part­ments’ bosses to at­tend the crime scene in per­son due to the se­ri­ous­ness of the shoot­ings.

Min­is­ter Moleleki (cen­tre) lis­tens to an eye­wit­ness ac­count of the shoot­ing from one of the sur­vivors tumo Mabot­sane (left).

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