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Play lays bare the effects of crime

Mohau Serabele

LOCAL theatre company, Sun Theatre Productions, on Wednesday staged their famous stage offering, Pants Down at St Boniface High School in Maputsoe.
The show, which attracted hundreds of high school learners in Maputsoe, is part of the nationwide tour of the play.

Pants Down is an hour-long piece exploring the experiences of inmates just about to complete their jail terms and waiting to be reintegrated back into society. The title of the play is symbolic of the repentance of the ex-cons from their criminal activities.

The play is set in a nondescript prison in Lesotho, featuring four prisoners recently granted parole and about to get a taste of life outside the prison walls.
Pants Down explores the mixed emotions a newly-released convict goes through as they prepare to relaunch their lives in the outside world.
According to the play’s director, Henry Ramaphike, taking down the pants is a sign of remorse for the harm and hurt they have caused their communities.
Ramaphike said: “By taking down their pants, the convicts are peeling off their dark past and leaving it behind. It is their symbolic act of saying enough is enough to all their dirty deeds and crimes.”
One of the major themes in the story is that of corruption and human trafficking which are endemic in Lesotho today.

The play delves into these social ills through the character of a former minister who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for human trafficking.
The former minister lands in jail after being convicted of the crime as well as misappropriating state funds.
While his fellow inmates are excited about finally being free, the former minister, played by Mohapi Moeketsi, is apprehensive and not ready to leave the prison just yet.
He begs to stay in jail because he cannot face the people he wronged.
The minster then symbolically cleans the boots of a female prison guard as a way of showing penitence to the young girls he put in danger through human trafficking.
He cries in anguish when it finally dawns on him how cruel he had been to young and vulnerable girls.

Although the play focuses on crime as a social evil committed by individuals against communities, it also demonstrates that society sometimes contributes towards these vices by failing to protect vulnerable groups.
Another inmate, Pule, played by Matsoso Monyatsi, is forced to spend time in jail for a crime he did not commit.
He spends 15 years in jail after being falsely accused of theft. At the end of his jail term, Pule comes out a bitter man and feels betrayed by the very society that he expected to protect him.
This character, according to Ramaphike, represents many Lesotho citizens who have seen their lives go to waste after spending time in jail for crimes they did not commit.
He noted that Pants Down is also intended to teach young people about the dangers of engaging in criminal activities and the adverse effects thereof to themselves and the communities in which they live.
“Crime does not only hurt the victims, it equally hurts society as a whole,” said Ramaphike.
“It is important to make young people aware that crime does not pay.”
He lamented the fact that many Basotho youths keep going in and out of prison because of crime.
“With this play, we are saying to our youths it’s time to repent and mend your ways,” he added.
“It is time to march forward and start a new life.”
He further stated that the play is set to tour the rest of the country with the ultimate goal of seeing young people spending time in school and not in jail.
Pants Down was first performed in Bloemfontein in South Africa during the Tsoho Community Theatre Festival, organised by the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State.

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