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Khetheng family speaks out

 

Pascalinah Kabi

THE father of Police Constable (PC) Mokalekale Khetheng says he is thankful to God for the change of government which he believes brought about the speedy discovery of the body of his slain son.

In an emotionally-charged interview with the Sunday Express yesterday, Thabo Khetheng also said the family would today hold a meeting with Acting Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli to map a forward after the exhumation of what they believe are PC Khetheng’s remains on Friday.

Acting Commissioner Molibeli has also confirmed the meeting to this publication, saying it was imperative to discuss the implications of the recent developments.

The body of a man the family believes to be PC Khetheng was exhumed on Friday after the police were granted a court order by the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday in light of ongoing investigations.

Police will conduct a DNA test to verify the identity of the body which had been buried at the Lepereng cemetery in the outskirts of Maseru. The graveyard is used to bury unclaimed corpses.

PC Khetheng had not been seen or heard from since his 25 March 2016 arrest by Hlotse police during a feast in Sebothoane, Leribe.

The exhumation came in the wake of the arrest and charging of four Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) with PC Khetheng’s murder this week.

The LMPS also withdrew, on Friday, its defence in a High Court case in which PC Khetheng’s family seeks to have the LMPS authorities produce his body dead or alive.

PC Khetheng had been arrested for allegedly burning down the house of his superior in Mokhotlong district where he was deployed.

However, according to information found on the tombstone, the body was found in Ha Setho two days after PC Khetheng’s arrest in Leribe.

The unidentified body was transported by Ha Mokhalinyane police to Ha ‘Majane before being transferred to a Lesotho Funeral Service mortuary in Maseru.

The body was buried on 7 December 2016 at the Lepereng cemetery together with other unidentified corpses.

Mr Khetheng said he could not bear to come to the exhumation on Friday, which was attended by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, First Lady MaIsaiah Thabane and senior government officials.

He only gathered the courage to watch the event on television, adding that watching a broadcast of his son’s exhumation was “horrifying and heartbreaking”.

“I didn’t attend the exhumation process. I don’t think I would have survived it, but his (PC Khetheng) brothers went there and they have identified him as my son,” Mr Khetheng said.

“I saw his dead body on television and I have never seen something like that all my life. I still don’t understand why a fellow human being can kill another and go on to bury them without the involvement of their family.”

“Seeing your son’s almost decomposed body on national television is the worst possible nightmare scenario. I am heartbroken while at the same time happy that my son will have a dignified send-off,” he said while holding back tears.

The past 16 months, Mr Khetheng said, had been a living hell for the family, adding that they had almost lost hope of finding their son dead or alive.

“The past 16 months were not only emotionally draining but also left us penniless since we were paying for legal fees among other costs.

“PC Mokalekale Benjamin Khetheng was a beautiful soul and we loved him dearly. Yet, someone decided to end his life mercilessly and didn’t have the decency to let us bury him.

“All the time, we were fighting for justice, it felt like there were big rocks put in our way to find our son and I don’t wish for anyone to go through what we went through. It was difficult for us.”

He added: “No one wants to bury their children, but when that happens, any parent would want to give their children a dignified funeral and not to run around for a year and four months fighting to get their son’s remains.”

Asked if they had set a date for the funeral proceedings, Mr Khetheng said they were going to a hold a meeting with LMPS management over the matter.

“This is not a normal death and it is no longer about the Khetheng family but the police and Lesotho as a whole.

“I have just finished speaking with Ntate Molibeli and he said preparations for our meeting are at advanced stage. He has been closely working with us ever since investigations into Mokalekale’s disappearance began,” Mr Khetheng said.

He said the discovery of PC Khetheng’s body had given the family closure and thanked God for the change of government after the 3 June 2017 National Assembly elections.

The Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven-party coalition government was ousted after Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention cobbled its 48 parliamentary seats with the Alliance of Democrats, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho to form a new governing alliance.

“Under the past government, the LMPS leadership didn’t lift a finger to help us find our son, in fact, they did everything in their power to ensure that we didn’t.

“I am not politicking, but I thank God that there was a change of government and leadership from the police because within three days after Ntate Molibeli told me that they were investigating Mokalekale’s disappearance, his body was found.”

Mr Khetheng also thanked Police Constable ‘Mabohlokoa Makotoko for remaining resolute during the court case to find PC Khetheng. He said this was an indication that there were still “good cops and principled women out there”.

PC Makotoko had said in her testimony that she was asked to lie about the arrest and disappearance of PC Khetheng and refused. She was eventually dismissed for misconduct.

PC Makotoko was among 21 LMPS members recalled last month after being fired by Commissioner Letsoepa.

For his part, Acting Commissioner Molibeli confirmed today’s meeting, saying: “Yes it is true that I have requested a meeting with PC Khetheng’s father and such meeting will take place tomorrow (today). “It is really important for us to meet with the family and see how best we can work together going forward.”

 

 

 

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