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Soldier accused of raping minor

’Mantoetse Maama

MASERU — A 23-year-old soldier briefly appeared before the Quthing magistrate’s court on Monday accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.

Police said Private Nkuebe Letsie was arrested on May 19 hours after he had allegedly raped the girl near a shop where she works as an assistant.

Senior Superintendent Mofokeng Kolo of Quthing police said medical tests conducted after the alleged assault had revealed that the girl, an orphan, was pregnant.

However it is believed that the minor was already pregnant by then.

“We suspect that she had been raped on several occasions before but she did not report the previous incidents,” said Kolo.

Lesotho Mounted Police Service spokesperson Masupha Masupha also confirmed the incident which occurred around 9pm when the victim who works at a village shop went out to answer the call of nature.

Masupha said the suspect who was around the shop premises saw the girl walk out and followed her to the toilet where he allegedly raped her once.

A male villager who was at the shop came while the suspect was raping the victim and tried to rescue her but the suspect allegedly offered him M10 to keep quiet about the incident, Masupha added.

The matter came to light when the girl reported to the shop-owner who is her guardian.

Masupha said villagers later caught the suspect and handed him to the police.

The suspect appeared before the court on Monday and was granted M500 bail.

Kolo said they were also going to investigate possible earlier sexual assaults on the girl. 

“Our CGPU (Child Gender Protection Unit) will also investigate the guardian as it is against the law that the girl was working yet she is under age. 

“The victim is an orphan and she was staying with the owner of the shop,” he said.

The accused had come to Quthing for the weekend from his base in Qacha’s Nek.

In a separate incident another 13-year-old school-girl from Quthing was sexually assaulted by unknown men after they kidnapped her from school on May 19.

“The victim was abducted by unknown men while she was sleeping in her dormitory at one of the high schools in Quthing,” Kolo said.

The name of the school was not revealed to protect the identity of the victim.

“The suspects took her to a place outside the school yard and raped her. When they were done they took her back to the school.”

Kolo said they were going to contact the school authorities as the matter had been reported by the victim’s grandfather.

“We suspect that the principal was not aware of the incident as the matter was reported by the victim’s relative,” he said.

He added that the two suspects have not yet been arrested.

“The two incidents have shocked us as they occurred during the same week,” Kolo said.

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old girl from Qacha’s Nek was also raped on May 17.

According to a police report the victim was sexually assaulted in her home by an unknown man.

“The suspect knew that the girl stays alone then he went to her home at night to rape her.

 “The victim screamed for help after the suspect left the home.”  

The suspect was apprehended by villagers who had heard the teenager’s cries for help.

He is expected to appear in court soon.

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