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Kabi’s dalliance with Famo gang raises eyebrows

  • ABC leader describes gang as “a government on its own”,  
  • praises it for its “unwavering loyalty” to ABC.

Bongiwe Zihlangu/Marafaele Mohloboli

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Nkaku Kabi, is committed to his party’s alliance with the Terene faction of Famo music gangs despite that they and their rivals have been implicated in rampant killings and other violent crimes in Lesotho and South Africa.

Even Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, a member of Mr Kabi’s ABC, is on record saying Famo gangsters have been classified by the government as “internal terrorists”. However, this has not stopped various political parties from forging alliances with the rival gangs despite their fearsome reputation. The parties often turn to them to help woo voters particularly during election campaigns.

Against this background of the forthcoming polls, due in October this year, Mr Kabi recently toured Klerksdorp, South Africa and addressed hundreds of Lesotho nationals. The majority of his audience were members of the Terene gang.

Addressing the huge crowd mostly clad in the black and yellow regalia of the Terene gang, Mr Kabi said his party had decided to visit Klerksdorp to canvass for their votes. He said former ABC leader Thomas Thabane had advised him to “lean on you because you are loyal (to the ABC)”.

He was lavish in praise of the Terene gang, saying they were like “a government on its own” due to their high levels of “organisation and discipline”.

“We have come to South Africa to remind ABC supporters of their roots.  We want to encourage not only ABC supporters but Basotho in general to return home in time for elections to vote for the ABC. We need your votes so that we can do what needs to be done,” Mr Kabi said.

He reserved special praise for one of the senior Terene members, Sarele Sello. Popularly known as Lehlanya, Mr Sello chose to stick with the ABC when his former boss, the late Mosotho Chakela, defected to the Democratic Congress (DC) in 2020. He is now the second-in-charge of the ABC-aligned faction which is now led by one Mokata Lirope.

Mr Kabi was especially pleased by the fact that the Terene gang had organised a convoy of vehicles and a music concert to welcome him. He had travelled with his campaign team which included secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, and 77 ABC musicians.

“Let me thank you Ntate Lehlanya for the amazing convoy you organised to welcome us. We have travelled in convoys before but I have never seen one this big in a long time. It took me down memory lane to reminisce of the convoys we used to organise during Ntate Thabane’s days. It was truly impressive.

“I immediately recalled when Tom Thabane told me that the ABC would never lose elections because it was formed on a strong foundation by the men and women who got the movement off the ground.

“Tom Thabane also talked about the Terene group saying that you people are loyal and that if I leaned on you I would never fall. Your presence here today is testimony that you support ABC with all you have so that the party can be as strong as it can be,” Mr Kabi said to a deafening applause by the Terene members.

Due to the gangsters’ support, the ABC would cruise to victory at the forthcoming elections, he said.

“We are heading for elections and we will emerge victorious and form the next government. Morena (chief) Lehlanya I promise you victory.

“Your support is overwhelming. We sat down with Thabane to discuss about you and he knows that you turned out in large numbers and voted for us in the last election (in 2017),” Mr Kabi said.

He praised the gang for being “organised like a government and generous too”.

Morena Lehlanya, I have realised that Terene is like a government on its own; it is very strong and organised. You spend without any qualms. Even after spending, you’re left with more than what you spent. The unity and level of commitment demonstrated by members of Khosi Mokata’s Terene group, is impressive. Let us all hold hands to rebuild Lesotho,” Mr Kabi added.

In a message that was greeted with a thunderous applause, Mr Kabi begged the Terene leaders to take him to an initiation school where he would undergo rites of passage into manhood in line with Sotho traditions. He said he was tired of being excluded from certain gatherings and discussions or having his views shot down on account of the fact that he was not a man as he had not undergone the rites of passage.


“I walk beside you only because you are my brothers. I have not been to the initiation school. I need you, Ntate Lehlanya and others, to gently take me to the mountain so that I also will return a man.

“This thing of people who have been to the mountain (initiation schools) always telling me to step aside when they want to discuss some issues does not sit well with me. I need to feel complete when I am with other men,” Mr Kabi said.

He called on Famo gangs to reunite or at refrain from violent wars with each other. He said it was Mr Thabane’s dream to see all Famo music groups burying the hatchet and each of them “do its own thing without antagonising another”.

“Tom Thabane told me that the unity and reconciliation he yearns for should be done in earnest. He said all families that had lost their loved ones to Famo gang wars should be engaged as part of the reconciliation process,” Mr Kabi said.

His visit to Klerksdorp, a South African town which has become a stronghold of the Lirope-led Terene faction, comes barely a month after a European Union (EU) organised stakeholders’ meeting raised concerns about the likelihood of violent elections due to some of the major political parties’ alliances with Famo gangs.

Elections are due in October this year and the exact dates will only be known once His Majesty King Letsie III has gazetted them.

The polls are expected to be a high-stakes affair with the main governing but fractious ABC slugging it with its current governing DC ally and others like the Basotho National Party (BNP), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) and Movement for Economic Change (MEC).

The elections have been spiced up by first time contestants like former ABC deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP) and business mogul Sam Matekane’s newly-formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP).

It will also be the first election to be held since long-time luminaries and former prime ministers Pakalitha Mosisili and Thomas Thabane relinquished the reins at the DC and ABC in 2019 and 2021 respectively.

While the polls promise lots of excitement, stakeholders who spoke at last month’s EU-organised virtual meeting expressed fears that there was likely to be pre and post-election violence due to the main political parties’ association with deadly Famo gangs.

The meeting was held under the theme: “Promoting Human Security and Peace-building in Lesotho”.

The meeting was organised by the EU delegations to Lesotho and South Africa. EU Ambassador to Lesotho, Paola Amadei, attended alongside National Reforms Authority (NRA) CEO Mafiroane Motanyane and other stakeholders who included Lesotho’s Director for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission (AUC), Khabele Matlosa.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Matlosa expressed fears that the upcoming elections could be marred with violence as a result of violent Famo music gangs’ alignment to key political parties, particularly the ABC and DC.

Dr Matlosa argued that there was no political will to curb violence. The alleged involvement of rogue members of the Lesotho Mounted Police (LMPS) in arming the Famo gangs was a worrying factor ahead of the polls, he said.

Dr Matlosa said anecdotal evidence pointed to the involvement of LMPS members in the disappearance of guns at Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek police stations in November 2021 and April 2022 respectively.

Supported by Development for Peace Director, Sofonea Shale and one Dr Likhapha Rabele, Dr Matlosa said rogue police officers most likely passed on the stolen weapons to the marauding Famo gangs. He said this was borne out by the fact that a recent Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) operation recovered some of the arms during a raid on Matelile, Mafeteng- an area that is considered a stronghold of rival Famo gangs.


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