Ex-min­is­ter ar­rested for rape

The vic­tim’s fam­ily kept the rape a se­cret un­til the vic­tim fell preg­nant In­ci­dent high­lights crimes against women and the girl child

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

AFORMER Min­is­ter of Law in the former seven par­ties’ coali­tion govern­ment was ar­rested on Fri­day and spent the week­end at the Po­lice Head­quar­ters in Maseru on al­le­ga­tions of rap­ing a 17 year-old or­phan girl in Mat­sieng early this year.

The mi­nor is re­port­edly fell preg­nant as a re­sult of the rape which al­legedly oc­curred in Jan­uary this year.

Po­lice Spokesper­son, Su­per­in­ten­dent Mpiti Mopeli, re­cently told the Sun­day Ex­press that “the po­lice have ar­rested a mid­dle aged man in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions that he raped a 17 year-old”.

“I can’t dis­close whether or not the sus­pect is a politi­cian or not but I can only con­firm the ar­rest and that he is at the Po­lice Head­quar­ters,” Supt Mopeli said.

How­ever, sources within the po­lice head­quar­ters, said the sus­pect was a former min­is­ter and he will soon be charged with rape.

The sources said that the sus­pect is a mem­ber of former Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s Demo­cratic Congress (DC) party and he briefly served as Min­is­ter of Law in the former seven par­ties’ coali­tion which lasted from March 2015 and it was ousted in the 3 June 2017 na­tional elec­tions.

“The former min­is­ter (name with­held) is in po­lice cus­tody for in­ter­ro­ga­tion. The po­lice are ques­tion­ing him on al­le­ga­tions that he raped a 17 year-old or­phan who is orig­i­nally from ThabaTseka. At the time of the al­leged rape, the or­phan was stay­ing with a fe­male Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (NSS) of­fi­cer who is re­lated to the ac­cused,” one source said.

The source fur­ther said that the po­lice pre­lim­i­nary re­ports in­di­cated that the al­leged vic­tim was raped “some­time in Jan­uary but her fam­ily de­cided to treat the mat­ter as a ‘fam­ily se­cret’”.

Another source said that the mat­ter was swept un­der the car­pet un­til March when some of the vil­lagers in Mat­sieng be­gan sus­pect­ing that the mi­nor was preg­nant.

“The vic­tim con­fided in one of the women in Mat­sieng who blew the whis­tle on the al­leged rape. It is not clear why the case was first re­ported at the Mo­hale’s Hoek Po­lice Sta­tion soon af­ter it came to light (in March) and why the mat­ter was never in­ves­ti­gated un­til the mat­ter was re­ported on the so­cial me­dia last week,” the source said.

A source at Mo­hale’s Hoek Po­lice Sta­tion con­firmed that the mat­ter was first re­ported there but said he did not know why it was not in­ves­ti­gated un­til now.

The Sun­day Ex­press’ ef­forts to ob­tain com­ment from the of­fi­cer com­mand­ing the Mo­hale’s Hoek Po­lice Sta­tion, Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Khethisang Koro, proved fruit­less as he did not an­swer his mo­bile phone af­ter ini­tially promis­ing to do so.

Sr Supt Koro ini­tially promised to re­spond to the Sun­day Ex­press in­quiries af­ter fin­ish­ing his meet­ing with the Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor of Mo­hale’s Hoek.

Another source said that af­ter the fail­ure by the Mo­hale’s Hoek po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate the rape al­le­ga­tion, the case was then re­ported to the Morija Po­lice Sta­tion who in­ves­ti­gated af­ter sus­tained pres­sure from the Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, ‘Mate­batso Doti.

“The min­is­ter has since made ar­range­ments that the girl be taken to a se­cret lo­ca­tion for her own pro­tec­tion and that of her un­born baby,” the source said.

On her part, Ms Doti said the case was a very sen­si­tive mat­ter that needed to be han­dled with cau­tion to pro­tect the mi­nor and en­sure that her rights were not fur­ther vi­o­lated.

“The Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment has sought asy­lum in a se­cret place for the girl. We need to pro­tect this child and en­sure that her rights are not vi­o­lated. Men­tion­ing the name of the place that she has been taken to will com­pro­mise her se­cu­rity. We have asked the po­lice to speed up the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the case,” Ms Doti said.

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, DC spokesper­son Se­ri­a­long Qoo said he was not in a po­si­tion to con­firm whether or not the DC mem­ber and former min­is­ter had been ar­rested on al­le­ga­tions of rap­ing the mi­nor.

“I am in Malin­goa­neng, Mokhot­long and the nor­mal pro­ce­dure is that the mat­ter will be re­ported to the of­fice of the DC sec­re­tary gen­eral who will in turn in­form me so that I can re­spond to ques­tions like this. But as of now, the sec­re­tary gen­eral (Se­mano Seka­tle) has not said any­thing to me,” Mr Qoo said.

The al­le­ga­tions come out at the time Le­sotho is work­ing on the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill of 2018 which Gen­der Links Coun­try Man­ager, ‘Man­te­bo­he­leng Ma­betha, de­scribes as an en­deav­our to counter the ram­pant acts of Gen­der Based Vi­o­lence (GBV) that have rocked the coun­try.

She said the new bill comes af­ter the pre­vi­ous one was not en­acted into law. She said the bill has been dis­cussed with stake­hold­ers that in­clude the Min­istry of Gen­der, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lice from Child and Gen­der Pro­tec­tion Unit (CGPU) and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“Al­though the pro­posed Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Bill 2018 has not yet been tabled in par­lia­ment, the pres­sure is mount­ing to en­sure that it is tabled and im­ple­mented be­fore the end of the year.

“The bill will be im­ple­mented at an op­por­tune time as Le­sotho is in trou­ble with the high rates of GBV in the coun­try.

“Al­though Le­sotho has made some ef­forts to at­tain gen­der equity and equal­ity, how­ever there are still glar­ing chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try. The no­table gaps in Le­sotho’s na­tional leg­is­la­tion per­tain to the dis­crim­i­na­tory tra­di­tional and cul­tural laws and prac­tices of early child mar­riages, in­her­i­tance and suc­ces­sion to chief­tain­ship.

“The (new) bill in­cor­po­rates a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary ap­proach to ad­dress­ing vi­o­lence against women such as pro­vi­sion of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the po­lice, so­cial ser­vices and health providers. The pro­posed do­mes­tic vi­o­lence bill goes be­yond the lim­ited ap­proach of crim­i­nal­is­ing vi­o­lence against women and takes into ac­count a range of ar­eas of the law, in­clud­ing civil, crim­i­nal, ad­min­is­tra­tive and con­sti­tu­tional law.

“The ab­sence of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence leg­is­la­tion has cre­ated a ma­jor gap in ad­dress­ing GBV in Le­sotho. Not a sin­gle week passes with­out the po­lice re­ports re­veal­ing cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Th­ese re­ports are an in­di­ca­tion that the Bill and its sub­se­quent im­ple­men­ta­tion are long over­due in Le­sotho,” Ms Ma­betha said.

PO­LICE spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Mpiti Mopeli.

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