Seakhi famo group leaders refused to attend peace-talks organised by Lesotho and Free State government officials in South Africa early this month, arguing such meetings would not achieve their objective because they excluded critical stakeholders.
All six Mafeteng-based famo gangs, namely Terene, Seakhi, Phula Bobete, Thanya Masoleng, Mahana Puso,Tornado and Terata ea Hlaba, had been invited to the 3 December and 9 December talks in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu respectively, but only the Seakhi leadership chose not to attend.
The Lesotho government recently formed a subcommittee whose task was to find a lasting solution to the famo gang warfare which has claimed more than 30 lives since 2009.
The subcommittee is made up of Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Likeleli Tampane, Police Minister Monyane Moleleki, Communications, Science and Technology Minister Khotso Letsatsi, and Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa.
However, of the six groups or Makhotla, as they are popularly known in Sesotho, only Terene and Seakhi have been at loggerheads over which stable is better, and their turf-war has become one of the most divisive topics in Lesotho due to its political undertones.
But according to Seakhi leader, Bereng ‘Lekase’ Majoro, his group decided to snub the meetings because they excluded critical role-players.
Majoro said: “The reason I refused to attend the meeting in Bloemfontein, for instance, was because people like Mahlanya (famo artist), whose relative was shot dead and Monyamane (also a musician), who was shot but is still alive, had not been invited yet they are the ones who have been affected directly by the fighting.
“Again, we couldn’t go to the Bloemfontein meeting because Khopolo (also an artist) was attending a funeral and Mahlanya had to be in Johannesburg for a court case.”
Majoro also said during the previous government headed by All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, famo artistes resolved to discuss their issues in Lesotho not outside the country.
“This fight started in Thabana-Morena here in Lesotho, so I don’t understand why we need to discuss it in South Africa. Government refused to attend SADC Commission of Inquiry hearings (into the fatal shooting of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao) in Thaba-Nchu, saying the issue being discussed was about Lesotho and not South Africa, so why should we go to South Africa and talk about killings happening in Lesotho? The meetings should have been held here in Lesotho and not South Africa.”
On his part, Terene supremo Mokete ‘Mosotho’ Chakela, said he was hoping the talks would take place to end the feuding which he said had taken a toll on famo music sales.
Chakela noted: “We need lasting peace in the famo industry and want the Seakhi leadership to attend these talks. I will not lie—our music has been hit hard by the killings so the sooner they stop, the better for the industry.”
Minister Tampane confirmed that the absence of Seakhi members had prompted the cancellation of the two meetings.
“We agreed to meet in Bloemfontein, but they didn’t pitch. One of the reasons they gave for not coming was that Mosotho Chakela lives in the town so they were not comfortable to have the meeting there,” Ms Tampane said.
Ms Tampane further told the Sunday Express that Seakhi leaders had initially requested an audience with her before they could meet the Terene group.
Asked why the South African authorities were being involved in the talks, Ms Tampane said the killings had since spread to that country and the government wanted them to stop. The fighting, she added, could end up straining relations between the two neighbouring countries.
“I asked to meet relevant officials from the Free State government like the MEC for Tourism, Home Affairs, Police and Law, to put an end to these killings,” Ms Tampane said.
On the meeting requested by Seakhi members, Ms Tampane said she had no problem with it.
“I have since agreed to the meeting, but I also want to meet with the Terene leadership so that we iron out whatever issues might be there,” said Ms Tampane.
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