Gun violence rocks Lesotho

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Gun violence rocks Lesotho
Gun violence rocks Lesotho

Africa-Press – Lesotho. A 26-year-old soldier was shot dead on New Year’s Eve in Quthing as he tried to disarm a man who was randomly firing a gun at an initiation ceremony. The police say the trouble started when Bolae Maqoabikane, 36, who had just graduated, fired several shots in the air.

The soldier, who was in plain clothes, asked Maqoabikane to show him the gun’s licence. Maqoabikane then allegedly got furious and shot the soldier who was rushed to Maqokho Clinic where he was later pronounced dead.

Maqoabikane also shot and injured the village chief who had also demanded to see his gun licence. The 53-year-old chief was treated as an out-patient at the local clinic.

Inspector Lekhafola Tau of the Quthing Police Criminal Investigation Division (CID) said people at the ceremony then beat Maqoabikane to death. Inspector Tau said the people handed over the suspect’s .357 Magnum pistol whose serial number was rubbed off.

Senior Superintendent ‘Mamoipone Mohloai of Quthing police said they are worried about the increasing cases of violent crimes involving initiates in the district.

In another incident in Thaba-Tseka, a 76-year-old former police officer allegedly fatally shot his 94-year-old mother. Nthuseng Monyatsi, the suspect, is alleged to have been infuriated by his mother’s request for food.

Monyatsi appeared before the Thaba-Tseka Magistrate’s court last Thursday to face a murder charge. Monyatsi handed over his pistol to the police. Police said Monyatsi told that he killed his mother because he wanted to save her from the misery of old age and poverty.

Monyatsi was remanded in custody and he will appear in court again next Wednesday. In Maseru, the chief executive of the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LDTC), Dr Retšelisitsoe Nko, is under investigation after he was involved in a shooting incident.

The incident happened last Tuesday at Hillsview. Police are yet to release a detailed report about the shooting but have confirmed that Dr Nko is being investigated for murder.

Reports say Nko brought his gun to confront guests at a lodge near his house. It is alleged that Dr Nko was angry that the guests had manhandled his son after accusing him of making noise with his quad bike.

The guests, who were having a braai, tried to wrestle the gun from Dr Nko. One of the guests was shot during the fracas and is in critical condition at a local hospital.

Dr Nko, who has since been suspended from the LTDC, was also shot but did not go to a hospital. Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said the police are weary of the spate of murders and other violent incidents countrywide involving guns.

He said it is for this reason that the police have suspended the issuance of firearm licences. S/Supt Mopeli said the police are also worried about the proliferation of illegal guns.

“It is for this reason that the Police Commissioner has resolved to temporarily suspend the application for licences countrywide,” S/Sup Mopeli said.

He said five illegal 9mm pistols and bullets were confiscated and the owners were arrested during the festive season. “This shows that there are still more guns out there in the wrong hands,” he said.

“Because of these guns which are out of control, licences will be suspended so that the police can inspect those already issued,” he said.

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