We read with shock the story in the Lesotho Times this week of two women aged 23 and 25 years who are being held in police custody for allegedly recruiting and trafficking young girls as sex workers.
The girls were kept at a house in Ha-Tsolo, south of Maseru.
Some were kept in different safe houses around Maseru.
One thing came to mind when we read the story. The child traffickers should get a lengthy prison sentence.
A recent International Labour Organisation survey on Nigeria revealed that trafficked children often die from diseases — mostly HIV and Aids and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — and other factors such as violence, dangerously harsh working conditions, malnutrition and in some cases, drug and alcohol addiction.
By forcing young Basotho girls into a life of vice, the two women have subjected them to untold psychological and physical abuse whose effects could last for a lifetime.
These girls will need to undergo psychological counseling and rehabilitation in order to integrate well back into society.
This case should serve as a test case for the newly-enacted Anti-Human Trafficking Act.
The judge who will preside over the case must show that the law will descend like a tonne of bricks on all child traffickers.
Meanwhile, the health and social welfare ministry also needs to get in on the act.
Are health workers reporting incidences of STIs in children below the age of sexual consent?
It is possible that health practitioners in the public and private sector are turning a blind eye to such cases, dismissing them as private matters?
Social workers who are working in the districts must also be trained to keep an eye out for signs of child abuse and trafficking.
As things stand the focus seems to be on supplying food packages to orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and Aids.
Lastly, there is a worrying tendency among we Basotho to tolerate romantic/sexual relationships with minors “as long as he or she has reached the age of puberty”.
While we at Newsmakers and Noisemakers celebrate and advocate maximum individual freedoms in society, we also worry about morality and order. The authorities must be vigilant in protecting the vulnerable members of this society.
When one person abuses the personal freedom of another in the way these two young ladies have, then that person ceases to be a human being.
What is it with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leaders these days?
As the main opposition party in the country, one would expect that they would exhibit exemplary behaviour at all times, so that voters can have a glimpse of what life will be under an ABC government.
If Lesotho under the ABC will be run like the party’s leaders are running their own families, then the women of this country better polish up their boxing skills.
Last year, it was reported by this newspaper that Tom Thabane’s estranged wife was accusing him of watching stone-faced while his sons assaulted her at his Maseru home.
Thabane then threatened the journalist who wrote the story with death. He later apologised for the threats and appears to be back in good books with journalists.
But, hardly before the ink has dried on that story, another ABC leader is caught up in a domestic violence case.
ABC deputy chairman and Lesotho Workers Party Member of Parliament Sello Machakela, is under police investigation for assaulting his lover.
Let us try and forget the curious fact that Machakela is reported to be married with four children and his wife is said to be living in South Africa.
Machakela’s lover is one ’Mamonts’eng Manetsa.
According to police spokesman Masupha Masupha: “The police’s occurrence book shows that she reported that Mr Machakela assaulted her and injured her but the docket was not opened because she did not open a case.”
However, she did eventually open a case against him.
Interestingly Machakela reported to the police that she had stolen his cellphone and a case was opened.
What is interesting are the similarities between the Machakela and Thabane cases
Like Thabane, Machakela is a former labour minister in the LCD government and a founding member of the ABC.
While Thabane filed a report of a disturbance at his house, Machakela filed a report of house-breaking and theft at his home.
Granted, domestic matters are seldom simple to solve and there could be more to all these stories.
However, we cannot help but wonder if these ABC leaders are sharing notes.
In conclusion we note that the scale and effects of domestic violence in Lesotho have not beeen fully documented.
However, like child trafficking mentioned earlier, battered women suffer physical and mental problems as a result of domestic violence.
Let us all say “no” to child trafficking and domestic violence in all its forms.