Armed rob­ber turns new leaf

Lesotho Times - - Business -

As a man who has now sobered up, Nathane said his past em­bar­rasses him and shows re­morse for the pain he caused so many peo­ple.

Prior to his con­vic­tion, Nathane had been ar­rested twice for armed rob­bery and was granted bail, only to re­sume his crim­i­nal acts as he was con­vinced the jus­tice sys­tem had no teeth to bite.

While out on bail, Nathane said he felt the jus­tice sys­tem un­der­stood his na­ture and went on the ram­page, flout­ing some of his own rules about be­ing cau­tious in some of his heists.

He be­lieves the jus­tice sys­tem’s de­lay to grind, to a cer­tain ex­tent, also let him down by not stop­ping him and his gang be­fore they could do much harm that led to the death of three peo­ple.

The fact that they seemed to get away with their crim­i­nal acts made them bolder and greed­ier, he added.

“When we started, we were happy to get away with M40,000, but as time went on, we went for the big jobs that of­fered us more money. We im­proved our strate­gies and started work­ing with peo­ple close to places we tar­geted to rob.”

Some­times, a girl­friend or a neigh­bour work­ing at a su­per­mar­ket or whole­sale came in handy and would pro­vide in­for­ma­tion in re­turn for part of the spoils.

“I re­mem­ber we once hit one shop and got away with M200,000 af­ter we were tipped about the money by our mem­ber’s girl­friend,” Nathane said.

The same strat­egy was im­proved from time to time and ap­plied in ex­e­cut­ing other “big-pay­ing jobs”.

It, how­ever, took spend­ing time in prison for Nathane to re­alise when his life took a dan­ger­ous turn onto a dark path of crime. At the age of 16 years, he dropped out of school in Maseru, af­ter get­ting into a fight that left him with stab wounds.

“My par­ents had planned that I should trans­fer to an­other school, but this did not hap­pen be­cause I got mixed-up with bad boys and started steal­ing. I re­fused to go back to school and that re­ally broke my

I would also want to start a fam­ily and make sure none of my chil­dren will fall into the same trap as I did

par­ents’ hearts.”

Nathane said his fam­ily did not un­der­stand what had mo­ti­vated him to choose crime as he had lacked noth­ing in his life. In the end, tired of ex­plain­ing him­self, he de­cided to move out of his fam­ily home and rented his own apart­ment.

“I thought by stay­ing alone, I would be free and be­come a mas­ter of my des­tiny. I thought one day, I would get so rich from my crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties. How wrong I was and stupid. I never re­alised that my im­pris­on­ment started when I re­fused to go to school. By re­ject­ing ed­u­ca­tion, I turned down de­cency, free­dom and em­pow­er­ment to live with a clear con­science. I de­nied my­self true hap­pi­ness and chose dagga, which pro­vided false se­cu­rity.”

Nathane said he has now turned a new leaf, and thanks to life in prison, he can now see clearly.

And af­ter a five-year bat­tle with him­self in prison, he de­cided to do the right thing — go­ing back to school. He passed his Cam­bridge Over­seas School Cer­tifi­cate (COSC) ex­am­i­na­tions in 2012 and has been wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to train as an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer at the Lerotholi Poly­tech­nic.

“I have ex­pressed my in­ter­est to fur­ther my stud­ies but have not been suc­cess­ful. I would like to be a free man in­deed, by do­ing an hon­est job when I fi­nally get out of prison.

“I would also want to start a fam­ily and make sure none of my chil­dren will fall into the same trap as I did,” he said.

In an in­ter­view re­cently, the Le­sotho Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice Act­ing Com­mis­sioner, Tha­bang Mothe­phu, said while a good num­ber of in­mates serv­ing long sen­tences, such as Nathane, had com­pleted and passed their sec­ondary school ed­u­ca­tion while in jail, they could not get assistance to pro­ceed to ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

“We need to help the in­mates through var­i­ous em­pow­er­ment pro­grammes so that when they are re­leased from our fa­cil­i­ties, they will be able to start in­come-gen­er­at­ing projects or get em­ployed,” Act Com­mis­sioner Mothepu said.

He called upon de­vel­op­ment part­ners to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment of ca­pac­ity build­ing in­sti­tu­tions within the cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties, to make it easy for the in­mates to con­tinue study­ing beyond COSC.

Cur­rently, the LCS has part­nered with a Non-gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tion, GROWER, which has helped in pro­vid­ing some teach­ers work­ing at the Ju­ve­nile Train­ing Cen­tre.

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