Boy’s killing shocks Naleli community
. . . as an illegal gun ends another life
WHEN 12-year-old Rahatla Moteba did not come back home from playing outside at the usual time last Tuesday, his grandmother, ‘Mabulane Moteba, did not panic.
She knew that Rahatla enjoyed playing football with his friends and would sometimes lose track of time.
Little did she know, however, that her beloved grandson was lying in a pool of blood approximately 10 feet away from their home.
Narrating the events of the fateful day to the Sunday Express crew on Friday, Ms Moteba said Rahatla went to school in the morning and returned later in the day.
“Upon his return, Rahatla removed his school uniform to wear his home clothes before going outside the house to play,” she said.
Ms Moteba recalls following him outside, moments later, as he had not put on warm clothes since the weather was chilly in Phuleng, Naleli – approximately eight kilometres north east of Maseru city centre.
However, Ms Moteba failed to locate her beloved grandson, and decided to return into the house to continue with her household chores.
“At around 7 or 8pm there was a knock on the door and I thought it was Rahatla who had returned home. I was surprised to discover that it was actually our neighbours who then asked about Rahatla’s whereabouts,” she said, adding that Rahatla’s father, Semethe Moteba, was in the home at the time.
“When we told them that he had not yet returned and was probably playing outside, tears started streaming down the female neighbour’s cheeks, who was in the company of her husband.
“She blurted out that ‘there is blood in my house’ and I asked what she meant. She then said she suspected the blood belonged to Rahatla.”
Ms Moteba said the woman, whose identity is not revealed for her safety, then claimed that Rahatla hit a door frame while playing with her nine-year-old son.
The alarmed grandmother then asked to go to the neighbours’ house to see the blood they were talking about.
The neighbours refused, with the wife saying her bedroom was too untidy to be seen by non-family members.
And when the Moteba family insisted, she agreed on condition that only granny Moteba would enter the bedroom.
“There was blood on the floor and on a mat, with signs that attempts to wipe away the blood had been unsuccessful,” Ms Moteba said, adding that the neighbours refused to tell them the child’s whereabouts.
“After it became apparent that something bad had happened to Rahatla, we searched for him without success.”
The search went on for hours until it was aborted in the wee hours of the next day. Ms Moteba said all they could do was to seek divine intervention through relentless prayers.
“On Wednesday, at around 6am, we began the search again, while my other family members went to the neighbours’ house, pleading with them to tell us which hospital they had taken our child to,” Ms Moteba said.
“They refused to budge, and we went to the police to report the matter. The police also failed to get the truth out of the neighbours and went back while we continued with the search.”
After searching high and low without success and on the verge of giving up, Ms Moteba said another neighbour signalled to them to come to where he was.
“As we approached the neighbour, Rahatla’s father and sister started crying and I knew something was wrong.
“I then saw my grandson’s lifeless body with a wound on his forehead,” Ms Moteba said, adding that she was restrained from hugging her grandson by a police officer from the Crime Investigation Department.
They eventually went to a nearby police station to issue statements.
For his part, Mr Moteba said losing his first born son to two gunshots was heart-breaking and “painful beyond words”.
“He had a wound on his forehead and the police said that hole was also on the back of his head. There was also a wound on his belly and he was slumped, behind our neighbours’ house, lifeless. I cried so much and even fainted,” he said.
“My son was a good person. He loved playing soccer. He was talkative and always made us laugh with his endless jokes. He didn’t deserve to die like this.”
He said the Ha Rasetimela Primary School Grade 5 pupil was taken away from them too soon and in a horrible manner.
Mr Moteba directed his ire at the neighbours, who he said had come up with various versions of what had happened.
“Initially, we were told that he hit a door frame and bled to death, then there were claims that he was shot by our neighbour’s nine-year-old son. We were also told that our male neighbour called our son into his house and shot him dead.”
“What does not make sense to me is why my son’s body was kept by our neighbours the whole night? Why was he even shot dead? Why did our neighbours try to spin various stories to us such as the door frame story? Why was his lifeless body dragged out of the house and dumped behind my neighbour’s house?”
Mr Moteba said they never had any problems with the neighbours before, except a few months ago when mother asked him not to allow Rahatla to play with her son because “he was a bad influence”.
On Thursday, the Mabote police held a public gathering with the still shell-shocked Naleli community, urging the residents not to take the law into their own hands with reprisals against the Moteba’s neighbours.
Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, told this publication that the nine-year old boy faced murder charges.
“It is true that a murder case has been opened against a child residing in Naleli who allegedly shot dead the said child on Tuesday while they were allegedly fiddling with the gun,” he said, adding that the suspect was briefly detained on Wednesday.
He said the suspect was released into the care of his mother while the father was also arrested for possession of an illegal firearm.
“The firearm used to allegedly kill the child you are talking about was illegal and we also arrested the suspect’s father for illegal possession of a firearm. Investigations into the two incidences are ongoing and once completed, the two suspects will appear in court.
“It is also true that the police held a public gathering yesterday to address the community members after realising their anger, pleading with them to allow the law authorities to handle this matter,” he said.