The Masasa family of Marakabei in Thaba-Tseka is crying foul over the postponement of a court case in which a Roman Catholic Church priest is accused of allegedly raping and impregnating their teenage daughter last year.
The case was postponed in the Ha Mohale Magistrate’s Court for the second time on Wednesday, leaving the family “frustrated”.
The girl’s mother, ‘Makeko Masasa, on Friday told the Sunday Express: “The case was first postponed on 2 December 2015 and it was again postponed on Wednesday (17 February) to May 2016. The reason for postponement on both occasions was that the priest’s lawyer was not present.
“The family reported the case to the police hoping the courts of law would bring justice to our daughter as speedily as possible but that hope is slowly fading away because of these postponements.”
Ms Masasa said her family was failing to understand why the lawyer was missing court dates when his client, the priest, was always in attendance.
“You can imagine; I discovered my daughter had been raped on several occasions in February 2015 and to this day, we are still waiting for justice,” Ms Masasa said.
Meanwhile, Ms Masasa says she does not know who to turn to now for help. Her daughter, who is now 17 years of age, has since delivered and is no longer going to school.
“The church initially approached us when we laid charges against the priest, saying I must forgive the suspect. As a Catholic myself, I felt betrayed and insulted by the same church that I had been so loyal to all my life. I never understood why they would want us to resolve the matter out of court when my daughter had clearly been violated.”
Ms Masasa said she had never set foot in the church since the day her family was allegedly asked to “forgive and withdraw the charges” against the suspect.
Asked how she discovered that her daughter was being “sexually abused”, Ms Masasa said: “I started to have my suspicions because my daughter’s mobile phone was always in possession of the priest whenever I called her.
“At one point, he borrowed my daughter’s phone and later claimed that he had lost it. Fearing my reprimand, my daughter asked him to report to me that he had lost her phone and he indeed told me that he had lost my daughter’s phone and would pay for it.
“Soon after he lost the phone, my daughter used his phone to call me at around midnight and I demanded to know what they were doing at that time. She said they were studying and when I asked with whom at that time of the night, she said with the suspect.
“My daughter was staying away from home at the time because of distance to her school, and after that call, I became very worried. My suspicions were confirmed by one of the children who informed me that the priest was sleeping with my daughter and a week later, my daughter confessed to the affair.”
Ms Masasa added: “I now hate the church with all my heart and if I didn’t die on Wednesday when the case was postponed again, I don’t think any pain will ever kill me.”
Asked how her daughter was holding up, Ms Masasa said: “She has requested that she be excused from attending school this year as she is not in the right frame of mind to study. She now has a child and one can only imagine what she is going through.”
The Sunday Express has tried to speak to the accused priest but he refused to comment when approached at Mofumahali-oa-Tlholo in Maseru where he is now based.
The Roman Catholic Church in Lesotho has threatened to sue the Sunday Express for “inaccurate and at times completely wrong facts”.
This is in relation to a story the paper published in its 24-30 January 2016 edition titled ‘Catholic priests in child sex scandal’.
The priest in question was referred to in the story, but not by name, and the church leadership refused to comment on the alleged abuse at the time.