THE Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has embarked on a community sensitisation exercise in preparation for the reintegration of 74 youths into their communities. The youths have been undergoing rehabilitation at Makoanyane barracks.
They were placed on the programme two months ago by the army on allegations of committing violent crimes including murder, rape, housebreaking, theft and stabbings in the Maseru and Berea districts.
Army commander, Lieutenant General (Lt-Gen) Mojalefa Letsoela, who launched the Operation Namola (intervene), to weed out the young but dangerous criminals, had them detained at the Makoanyane Barracks for the rehabilitation programme to get them to change their ways before they are reintegrated into society.
Lt-Gen Letsoela has also courted civil society organisations and churches to assist in counselling and support services.
LDF spokesperson, Captain Sakeng Lekola, said that the exercise is of paramount importance as these people in the communities are the ones the youth terrorized and offended before they went for rehabilitation.
“We want to prepare communities for their return so that when they are released, community accepts them as reformed individuals and hopefully give them a second chance,” Captain Lekola said.
He said the social workers from the army have already went out in villages such as Koalabata, Sekamaneng, Naleli, Khubetsoana and Qoaling to name a few where majority of these youths come from.
Captain Lekola said they have also engaged churches for assistance in rehabilitating them adding that the youth have engaged in different team building activities with the army too.
“There are activities they have taken part in like the 15 years anniversary celebration of the Ultimate FM where they engaged with the army for different team building activities,” Captain Lekola said.
During the course of the rehabilitation programme, Captain Lekola said that they engaged ex-convicts and retired LDF officials to address the youth on the dangers of leading a deviant lifestyle.
Captain Lekola added they noticed a change in the behavior of the youth that have been undergoing rehabilitation.
“We have a seen a change in the way they behave but the real transformation will be seen and tested when they go to back to their villages,” said Captain Lekola.
Captain Lekola appeared to the communities for continuous support by helping the army ensure that the youth do not relapse.
He further thanked the private sector for their contribution towards the rehabilitation of the youth and those who have pledged to make follow ups after their release.
In an attempt to avoid the youth from relapsing to criminal activities Captain Lekola said that they have engaged stakeholders to involve the youths in different projects which will earn them a living and get them off the streets.