Illegal guns need to go
ONCE again, Lesotho grapples with the scourge of gun violence as 12-yearold Rahatla Moteba was shot dead last Tuesday allegedly by a nine-year old neighbour as reported elsewhere in this edition.
While the details are still sketchy, a murder case has been opened against the minor suspect who resides in Naleli.
He allegedly shot dead Rahatla while fiddling with the gun according to police spokesperson Inspector Mpiti Mopeli.
The suspect’s father was also arrested for possession of an illegal firearm, with investigations into the two incidences ongoing.
This tragic tale is one of many caused by the possession of an illegal firearm.
Cases of shootings remain high because, for so long, Basotho have been able to access firearms smuggled from South Africa through the porous border.
While the police deserve commendation for going after people illegally possessing firearms, more needs to be done to ensure guns are only in the hands of law-abiding and responsible citizens.
A strategy to address substance abuse is also in order since the vice plays a significant role in the prevalence of serious and violent crime in the country.
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 the 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 a result, gun and gang violence can also lead people who are not involved in gangs to also carry guns out of fear. After all, the need for safety is a key reason people join gangs.
What little research exists points clearly to the risks of increased gun ownership in Lesotho. A gun in the home is more likely to be used on a resident of that home than on an intruder. Any access to a firearm increases the risk of death by homicide, particularly for women.
According to researchers at the University of San Francisco, firearms play a significant role in both suicide and homicide, accounting for slightly more than half of all suicide deaths and twothirds of homicide deaths
Furthermore, the seemingly easy to and fro movement of guns across the border needs more concerted efforts to nip in the bud.
This brings in the role of border guarding agencies, their capacity, numbers, deployment pattern and ability to operate in largely underdeveloped and difficult areas. Reform is certainly in order.
Ultimately, however it is the responsible of every citizen and resident of this country to be law abiding. It is incumbent upon everyone to be vigilant in reporting cases of illegal gun possession to protect lives which cannot be revived once snuffed out.
Guns, be it legal or illegal, should not be in the home as exemplified by this latest tragedy. As long as people have access to lethal weapons in the homes, incidents of accidental and intentional shootings are more likely than not to occur.