NEWLY appointed Social Development Minister, Motlohi Maliehe, is worried by the spate of rape and murders of the elderly and has called for the death sentence for perpetrators.
Mr Maliehe said the murderers had terrorised people and caused some residents of Rothe, Matsieng, Matelile and Ribaneng to flee their homes. He said such criminals should immediately be executed than sent to prison where taxpayers’ money was wasted on their welfare.
The tough-talking minister made headlines when he was re-appointed to cabinet in a 3 October 2019 cabinet reshuffle. His return came almost a year after he booted out by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in the wake of his unprecedented withering attack on the First Lady, Maesaiah Thabane while addressing a rally in his Hololo constituency in Butha-Buthe.
Back in May 2018 during his tenure as tourism minister and ABC chairperson, the fiery Mr Motlohi shocked the nation when he tore into Ms Thabane accusing her of fomenting chaos in the party and in the government through “constant meddling” in the work of ministers and officials. He accused the First Lady of derailing the government by seeking to control ministers and how they should perform their duties. He further accused Ms Thabane of violating the constitution and “abetting corruption” by instigating the removal of ministers who refused to comply with her demands.
He was subsequently suspended from the ABC chairship in August 2018 and fired from his cabinet post.
Although Dr Thabane did not give reasons for firing Mr Maliehe, it was widely believed that the latter was dismissed for his public attack on the First Lady.
But in the latest cabinet reshuffle on 3 October, Mr Maliehe was brought back into the fold along with another ABC stalwart, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, who was appointed to the Police and Public Safety portfolio. Mr Moramotse was fired from the Public Works and Transport post in February 2018 and no reason was given for the move.
However, it is the return of Mr Maliehe which has made headlines with many viewing his appointment as part of Dr Thabane’s attempts to shore up his waning support within the ABC after some of his ministers and senior party officials defied him and backed former national University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor, professor Nqosa Mahao for the ABC’s deputy leader’s post.
Speaking to this publication recently, Mr Maliehe said his new portfolio was very challenging as there were so many issues that needed to be addressed for the sake of national development.
He singled out the plight of the elderly as a major concern and bemoaned their killings by criminals who got off relatively lightly with prison sentences.
He said he was deeply worried by the increasing numbers of rape and murders of the elderly and he would rather have murderers executed as they had already deprived others of their right to life.
“The manner in which I approach issues may differ from that of my colleagues,” Mr Maliehe said.
“My own understanding is that any boy or man who breaks into the home an old person, rapes and kill them must never live to tell the tale. Those who have killed deliberately have overcrowded our correctional services and are being fed food bought by the very vulnerable people whose rights they have violated.
“This must come to an end, come rain or sunshine. The country is drowning in serious criminality and we need to take a decisive action with immediate effect.”
Mr Maliehe said jail terms did not deter offenders because they went on to commit more crimes after being released.
“Once released, a convict engages in a criminal activity less than five kilometres from the correctional facility. They do it purposely to go back to the facility because they are having a nice time there.
“Look at the country’s correctional service budget; it is shockingly way more than that of the pensioners who get a lesser budget than that of those criminals. It is a huge mountain to climb but government needs to take a decisive action to deal with this (murders). I am part of that government…unless we take certain action, this will (murders) never come to an end.”
He said the incidences of murders were on the rise and he had received reports that one village in Rothe had even been deserted as a result.
“I was recently informed that one of the villages in Rothe had just been electrified but the houses are empty. People have fled because of these killings. There are several other communities in Sehlaba-sa-Matsieng, Matelile and Ribaneng that have been affected and my advice is for the prime minister to declare state of emergency in those areas,” he said.