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Emotional send-off for murder victims

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

LERIBE — Fifty-eight-year-old ‘Matšepiso Rapalo and her two grandchildren who were brutally murdered in Popopo
village in Maputsoe two weeks ago were given an emotional send-off at a funeral attended by hundreds of mourners yesterday.
A fourth person, ‘Manqosa Mothetsi, died days later following a quarrel that started during a search for the prime suspect.
‘Matšepiso was found strangled in her hut. The bodies of her 10-year-old and seven-year-old grandchildren were found dumped in a stream just outside the village.

Their necks were broken. About four men have since been arrested in connection with the murders. Yesterday, voices of mourners filled the St Monica’s Roman Catholic chapel as coffins of the four deceased were wheeled in. The mourners were led by Bishop Augustinus Bane. “God will wipe off the tears from you all. We are shaken by what we see before us (coffins). Government dignitaries have always been with us,” Bane said. “Many have come to witness what a hand of man has done to an old
woman and children whose futures could have been of importance to the nation,” he said.

“God will heal your hurting hearts. What an unfortunate, cursed hand that killed!” “You just wonder the questions the deceased asked when they stared death in the eyes. We wonder if God is really there when things like this happen. Yes God is there,” he said. On Friday the Leribe community marched from the scene where the children’s bodies were found to the homes of the deceased.

Education Minister ‘Makabelo Mosothoane and Social Development Minister ‘Matebatso Doti were part of the march that was organised by the Leribe District Administrator’s office. The District Administrator, Mokhabelane Morahanye, said the purpose of the march was to demonstrate their unhappiness at the murders. “We are very saddened by the deaths. The people are shattered,” Morahanye said.

‘Mamonka Monyamane, a teacher for one of the deceased children, said she is struggling to accept the loss. “I cannot believe I will never see him again. I look with sorrow the seat he used to occupy in class. It will never be the same without him,” Monyamane said. Members of the community said they were worried by the use of drugs by youths in Leribe. “Young people use drugs like it were a trendy thing to do. Hence why we have people getting murdered like this.”

Forestry Minister Khotso Matla said he was thankful that the government and business leaders had taken the lead in helping bury the deceased. The Principal Chief of Tsikoane, Pontso Mathealira Seoehla, said their area seems to be haunted by evil spirits.
“Not so long ago we were praying that God cast away the evil spirit that was possessing a group of young people who were worshiping some odd spirits. They were found with some drugs,” Seoehla said.

“Now the suspects in this gruesome murder are young people who are said to have been using drugs. We need more prayers to cast away these spirits,” she said. Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing said the constitution should be reassessed to come up with laws so that they are able to answer for crimes that are happening lately. “Ritual killings are reoccurring. You will remember what happened in Koalabata where people were brutally killed, now this murder. Incidents like these compel us to review our laws so that they give us solutions to current deeds,” Metsing said.

He said courts of law can only give judgments based on provisions of the existing laws. He said even though people were emotional and would want heavy judgments for the murderers courts could only follow the law. “Courts work as provided by law not by instruction from the people,” he said. He said government was sorry about the killings. He said that the police commissioner had informed him that a second suspect was arrested in South Africa and was still to be brought into the country.

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