The police are looking for seven men from Ha Lereko village in Berea district who allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old local girl last Sunday at around 8pm.
According to police spokesperson Lebona Mohloboli, the suspects allegedly abused the victim after pulling her away from a group of local villagers who were singing and dancing to traditional songs.
Senior Inspector Mohloboli yesterday told the Sunday Express: “The girl stays in the same village with the suspects. She was singing and dancing with other local girls at around 8pm on Sunday; they were singing ‘Mokopu’ songs during that fateful night.
“The suspects pulled the girl away from the group and dragged her to a nearby donga where they took turns to rape her. The men then fled the scene after the crime and have not been seen since.”
Senior Inspector Mohloboli further said the victim was taken to a doctor the following day, who confirmed she had been sexually assaulted.
“The suspects are well-known and were positively identified since they stay in the same village with the victim, so it is only a matter of time before they are arrested,” Senior Inspector Mohloboli said.
The police spokesperson also warned residents to stay indoors during the night to avoid being victims of crime.
“This poor young girl was playing with her friends and was unfortunate as she was the only one pulled away from this group of girls, who were only having fun. Playing far away from residential areas, especially at night, puts people’s lives in danger; the same also applies to moving around at night as criminals take advantage of the dark to pounce on unsuspecting victims.”
According to Senior Inspector Mohloboli, preliminary investigations had revealed there were never any clashes between the victim and the suspects prior to the rape, which is said to have left Ha Lereko villagers in a state of shock.
“The victim and the suspects stay in the same village and we have been told that there was no bad blood between them before the attack; they had never publicly clashed before this horrific incident. It is believed the suspects were just being naughty when they committed this crime, which they will pay dearly for once they are caught and convicted by the court,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Women and Law in Southern Africa-Lesotho national coordinator, Libakiso Matlho, has condemned the teenager’s abuse and called on the court to impose very stiff sentences on the perpetrators.
“Sexual abuse destroys the victim emotionally, physically and sexually, and tends to make them fear men afterwards. It affects their relationships and they need serious counselling and support from their relatives and communities after going this ordeal. People should also be careful about what they do and say while around them to avoid triggering that depressing memory,” Advocate Matlho on Friday told the Sunday Express.
Advocate Matlho said a similar case took place in Lithabaneng, Maseru, three years ago, and the magistrate imposed a very lengthy term on the rapists.
“The presiding magistrate imposed a very severe sentence on the three men involved, which was an appropriate ruling for such a heinous crime. We believed the sentences were fair because the men were sentenced to the maximum sentence of 25 years in prison,” she added
According to Advocate Matlho, rape lowers the victim’s self-esteem, which further destroys their lives.