Mohalenyane Phakela /
THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) community is in shock after the gruesome murder of a Faculty of Education lecturer, Teboli Makafane, on Wednesday.
The body of Mr Makafane, who was said to be in his thirties, was found in a pool of blood in his rented flat in Roma on Wednesday morning.
Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said the body was discovered by Mr Makafane’s younger sister. It had seven stab wounds and a knife was still stuck to the deceased’s corpse.
Lesotho has therefore begun the year with yet another brutal killing which will only serves to cement the country’s dubious distinction of being Africa’s murder capital and the sixth most homicidal nation on the globe. Only El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands and Jamaica were ranked higher than Lesotho in the World Population Review murder rankings for 2021.
Commenting on the murder, Senior Supt Mopeli yesterday told the Sunday Express that “the deceased was found by his sister in the morning on 6 January 2022”.
“The body was lying in a pool of blood. It had multiple stab wounds, seven in all, and a knife was still stuck to the body. Although there were no signs of forced entry, his house had been ransacked.
“We are yet to establish the motive for the killing and if anything was stolen. No one has been arrested but investigations are ongoing,” Supt Mopeli said.
He appealed to the public to come forward with information that could help them solve the murder. He said the police were gravely worried by the rampant killings and generally high crime rates in the country.
“We are appealing to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of his killer/s. Murders have become so rampant in Lesotho. Other crimes are also rampant but the rate at which Basotho are killing one another is worrisome.
“The police may appear incompetent but this is only because there are insufficient resources to fight crime. Criminals know that they are always at an advantage as they can kill people and getting away with it. Nonetheless, investigations are ongoing,” Senior Supt Mopeli said in an interview.
The incident has sent shivers down the spines of the NUL community. They are now asking if this was just an isolated incident or the beginning of killings targeting them.
The head of NUL’s Faculty of Education, Paseka Mosia, who was one of the first people at the crime scene, said they were still shocked by Mr Makafane’s murder.
“When I got to the scene, the corpse had already been collected by the police,” Professor Mosia said.
“However, I saw a pool of blood inside the house. The furniture was scattered all over and it looked as if there had been a fight. His flat is very close to the landlady’s own and she told me that she had heard some banging sounds. She had not thought much about the sounds since they are surrounded by pubs and the noise could have been from one of them.
“My suspicion is that he was murdered by someone he knew because there were no signs of forced entry into his house. He would have shouted for help had his house been invaded by a stranger,” Prof Mosia said.
He said the entire NUL community was now living in fear after Mr Makafane’s murder.
“I last spoke to him the day before he was murdered. He had come requesting leave to travel to Cape Town. You can imagine how shocking it was to wake up to the news of his murder the following day. We are still in shock and wondering what could have caused this. We are all at risk.
“What is wrong with our country? Our murder statistics are way too high. The Prime Minister (Moeketsi Majoro) complained about it a while ago and ordered the security forces to deal with issue but we are not seeing any progress,” Prof Mosia said.
Fellow, NUL lecturer, Mahao Mahao, said the rampant murders suggested that the government was not serious about tackling the scourge.
“The murder of the NUL lecturer just goes to show how vulnerable ordinary citizens are in Lesotho. It has been said over and over again that homicides and other crimes have gotten out of hand in Lesotho but it appears the prosecuting authorities and those responsible for public safety are waiting for a whole town to be decimated before they finally swing into action.
“It’s really scary that such a young soul’s life can be snuffed out the way someone would squash an insect. I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing is done about this. We are now used to the fact that murder cases go unsolved for many years or not at all.
“Resources must be availed to fight crime and all the law enforcement agencies must be beefed up to ensure the speedy prosecution of suspects. The harshest sentences must be handed down to deter would-be murderers. We cannot have a country that operates as though it were a jungle. This has to stop,” Dr Mahao said.
Prime Minister Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, yesterday referred all questions to Police and Public Safety Minister, Lepota Sekola. However, Mr Sekola was not reachable on his mobile phone.
Despite the rampant killings the prime minister has not come out with a clear, concrete plan of action to stop the scourge.
The police have also been found wanting. This has forced the army to step in and assume policing duties.
In April 2020, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) was forced to step in and apprehend 74 people, mostly youths aged from 15 to 34. They were detained at Makoanyane Military Barracks for two months.
Code-named Operation Namola (intervene), the army operation was meant to capture the deviant youths who had caused residents in Maseru and its environs to live in constant fear by committing murders and other violent crimes like rape, stabbings, housebreaking and theft.
The Manomoro gang was comprised of hardened ex-convicts and even Famo musicians.
The army then organised a rehabilitation exercise which culminated in the juveniles being released and integrated back into their communities.
The LDF had intervened after the police had seemingly failed to perform their mandate of protecting the residents by arresting the criminals and having them prosecuted.
In November 2020, deputy army commander, Matela Matobakele, sharply criticised the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) for failing the nation.
Major General Matobakele said “Lesotho has no police force to speak about” due to the failure to discharge effective policing work.
He said the army had been forced to assume policing duties due to the incompetence of the LMPS. His comments did not sit well with Prime Minister Majoro, who said he was out of line and had to apologise to Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli.
Incidentally, Dr Majoro has refrained from criticising the police for its apparent failure to deal with violent crimes which have contributed in a big way to Lesotho’s dubious distinction of being the top ranked nation for homicides in Africa and sixth in the world.
It remains unclear if the deputy army chief has apologised for his forthright comments about the police as per Dr Majoro’s instruction.