Boy’s killing shocks Naleli com­mu­nity

. . . as an il­le­gal gun ends an­other life

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

WHEN 12-year-old Ra­hatla Moteba did not come back home from play­ing out­side at the usual time last Tues­day, his grand­mother, ‘ Mab­u­lane Moteba, did not panic.

She knew that Ra­hatla en­joyed play­ing foot­ball with his friends and would some­times lose track of time.

Lit­tle did she know, how­ever, that her beloved grand­son was ly­ing in a pool of blood ap­prox­i­mately 10 feet away from their home.

Nar­rat­ing the events of the fate­ful day to the Sun­day Ex

press crew on Fri­day, Ms Moteba said Ra­hatla went to school in the morn­ing and re­turned later in the day.

“Upon his re­turn, Ra­hatla re­moved his school uni­form to wear his home clothes be­fore go­ing out­side the house to play,” she said.

Ms Moteba re­calls fol­low­ing him out­side, mo­ments later, as he had not put on warm clothes since the weather was chilly in Phu­leng, Naleli – ap­prox­i­mately eight kilo­me­tres north east of Maseru city cen­tre.

How­ever, Ms Moteba failed to lo­cate her beloved grand­son, and de­cided to re­turn into the house to con­tinue with her house­hold chores.

“At around 7 or 8pm there was a knock on the door and I thought it was Ra­hatla who had re­turned home. I was sur­prised to dis­cover that it was ac­tu­ally our neigh­bours who then asked about Ra­hatla’s where­abouts,” she said, adding that Ra­hatla’s fa­ther, Semethe Moteba, was in the home at the time.

“When we told them that he had not yet re­turned and was prob­a­bly play­ing out­side, tears started stream­ing down the fe­male neigh­bour’s cheeks, who was in the com­pany of her hus­band.

“She blurted out that ‘ there is blood in my house’ and I asked what she meant. She then said she sus­pected the blood be­longed to Ra­hatla.”

Ms Moteba said the woman, whose iden­tity is not re­vealed for her safety, then claimed that Ra­hatla hit a door frame while play­ing with her nine-year-old son.

The alarmed grand­mother then asked to go to the neigh­bours’ house to see the blood they were talk­ing about.

The neigh­bours re­fused, with the wife say­ing her bed­room was too un­tidy to be seen by non-fam­ily mem­bers.

And when the Moteba fam­ily in­sisted, she agreed on con­di­tion that only granny Moteba would en­ter the bed­room.

“There was blood on the floor and on a mat, with signs that at­tempts to wipe away the blood had been un­suc­cess­ful,” Ms Moteba said, adding that the neigh­bours re­fused to tell them the child’s where­abouts.

“Af­ter it be­came ap­par­ent that some­thing bad had hap­pened to Ra­hatla, we searched for him with­out suc­cess.”

The search went on for hours un­til it was aborted in the wee hours of the next day. Ms Moteba said all they could do was to seek divine in­ter­ven­tion through re­lent­less prayers.

“On Wed­nes­day, at around 6am, we be­gan the search again, while my other fam­ily mem­bers went to the neigh­bours’ house, plead­ing with them to tell us which hospi­tal they had taken our child to,” Ms Moteba said.

“They re­fused to budge, and we went to the po­lice to re­port the mat­ter. The po­lice also failed to get the truth out of the neigh- bours and went back while we con­tin­ued with the search.”

Af­ter search­ing high and low with­out suc­cess and on the verge of giv­ing up, Ms Moteba said an­other neigh­bour sig­nalled to them to come to where he was.

“As we ap­proached the neigh­bour, Ra­hatla’s fa­ther and sis­ter started cry­ing and I knew some­thing was wrong.

“I then saw my grand­son’s life­less body with a wound on his fore­head,” Ms Moteba said, adding that she was re­strained from hug­ging her grand­son by a po­lice of­fi­cer from the Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion De­part­ment.

They even­tu­ally went to a nearby po­lice sta­tion to is­sue state­ments.

For his part, Mr Moteba said los­ing his first born son to two gun­shots was heart-break­ing and “pain­ful be­yond words”.

“He had a wound on his fore­head and the po­lice said that hole was also on the back of his head. There was also a wound on his belly and he was slumped, be­hind our neigh­bours’ house, life­less. I cried so much and even fainted,” he said.

“My son was a good per­son. He loved play­ing soc­cer. He was talkative and al­ways made us laugh with his end­less jokes. He didn’t de­serve to die like this.”

He said the Ha Rase­timela Pri­mary School Grade 5 pupil was taken away from them too soon and in a hor­ri­ble man­ner.

Mr Moteba di­rected his ire at the neigh­bours, who he said had come up with var­i­ous ver­sions of what had hap­pened.

“Ini­tially, we were told that he hit a door frame and bled to death, then there were claims that he was shot by our neigh­bour’s nine-year-old son. We were also told that our male neigh­bour called our son into his house and shot him dead.”

“What does not make sense to me is why my son’s body was kept by our neigh­bours the whole night? Why was he even shot dead? Why did our neigh­bours try to spin var­i­ous sto­ries to us such as the door frame story? Why was his life­less body dragged out of the house and dumped be­hind my neigh­bour’s house?”

Mr Moteba said they never had any prob­lems with the neigh­bours be­fore, ex­cept a few months ago when mother asked him not to al­low Ra­hatla to play with her son be­cause “he was a bad in­flu­ence”.

On Thurs­day, the Mabote po­lice held a pub­lic gath­er­ing with the still shell-shocked Naleli com­mu­nity, urg­ing the res­i­dents not to take the law into their own hands with reprisals against the Moteba’s neigh­bours.

Po­lice spokesper­son, In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli, told this pub­li­ca­tion that the nine-year old boy faced mur­der charges.

“It is true that a mur­der case has been opened against a child re­sid­ing in Naleli who al­legedly shot dead the said child on Tues­day while they were al­legedly fid­dling with the gun,” he said, adding that the sus­pect was briefly de­tained on Wed­nes­day.

He said the sus­pect was re­leased into the care of his mother while the fa­ther was also ar­rested for pos­ses­sion of an il­le­gal firearm.

“The firearm used to al­legedly kill the child you are talk­ing about was il­le­gal and we also ar­rested the sus­pect’s fa­ther for il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a firearm. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the two in­ci­dences are on­go­ing and once com­pleted, the two sus­pects will ap­pear in court.

“It is also true that the po­lice held a pub­lic gath­er­ing yes­ter­day to ad­dress the com­mu­nity mem­bers af­ter re­al­is­ing their anger, plead­ing with them to al­low the law author­i­ties to han­dle this mat­ter,” he said.

My son“was a good per­son. He loved play­ing soc­cer. He was talkative and al­ways made us laugh with his end­less jokes. He didn’t de­serve to die like this.

RA­HATLA’S fa­ther Semethe Moteba and his grand­mother.

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