MOKHOTLONG –– Four men from Mateanong Nazareth in Mokhotlong are in police custody for allegedly bashing to death an “uncircumcised” villager who dared talk about initiation rites.
Raboi Masiu, Relebohile Ntlhoki, Molato Mokhali and one Molomo whose first name could not be established surrendered themselves to the police in Mokhotlong.
Another suspect, Kopano Masiu, is still at large.
According to Senior Superintendent Molahlehi Letsoepa, the deceased, Palo Mokhali, was drinking alcohol with his friends at Mateanong when they started debating about many issues including initiation practices.
The suspects however tried in vain to stop Mokhali, 45, from debating initiation issues because he was not circumcised, Letsoepa said.
“Palo Mokhali aged 35 from Mateanong Nazareth drank beer with his peers and started arguing about many things including the initiation practices yet he was not circumcised himself,” he told the Sunday Express.
According to Basotho tradition, men who have not gone through initiation rites are forbidden from discussing the practice. Issues about initiation are discussed usually only in the mountains where the rites are done.
Men who have not been initiated –– referred to as maqai –– are looked down upon especially in the villages.
For arguing about initiation rites when he was allegedly not circumcised, Mokhali had his hands tied at the back with a rope as he was whipped with sjamboks, Letsoepa said.
The suspects left him unconscious.
When they discovered the following day that he had died they handed themselves to the police.
The suspects are expected to appear in court tomorrow facing a murder charge.
Letsoepa said the police had since written to the area chief to warn people about taking the law into their own hands.
“Letters have been addressed to the village chief to hold a public gathering so that the people can be advised about human rights and not to take law into their hands,” Letsoepa said.