MASERU — Three women and a one-year-old child who were reported missing since they left home a month ago to look for jobs in South Africa have been found dead.
They didn’t even make it to South Africa.
Their bodies were found last Saturday near an illegal crossing point on Lesotho’s border with Matatiele, the South African farming town on the outskirts of the Eastern Cape province.
Police suspect the women, aged between 20 and 30, and the baby were stoned to death.
No suspects have been arrested as yet and their motive was not known, according to police spokesman Masupha Masupha.
He said the assailants slit the victims’ throats and could have sexually assaulted them before murdering them.
“We suspect the women and the baby girl were stoned to death,” Masupha told a press briefing on crime this week.
“Police suspect that they might have been sexually abused before they were killed.”
“There is a possibility that they were tortured for days before they were murdered since they left home weeks before their bodies were found,” he added.
The deceased were taken to South Africa for post-mortems.
Masupha said relatives of the deceased told the police that the three women, from Ha Sekake and Mankoaneng in Qacha’s Nek, had left home on June 25 to look for jobs in Matatiele.
Basotho, mostly from Qacha’s Nek district, illegally cross into Matatiele at a gorge on the border.
Masupha warned Basotho to desist from using illegal crossing points into South Africa.
Meanwhile, four men have been arrested for allegedly stoning to death a 22-year-old man from Ha Souro in Mafeteng on July 12.
The deceased, according to the police, had earlier accosted one of the suspects at a nearby grazing field and started shooting at him.
“The deceased shot several times but missed his target,” Masupha said. “The suspects then threw stones at him to protect their colleague.”
The suspects stoned and hit the deceased with their lebetlela sticks until he died.
When the four men were arrested they handed over a 0.38 special firearm they claimed had been used by the deceased to shoot at their colleague.
Police found one live bullet and a shell at the scene.
Masupha said it was not clear why the deceased had allegedly shot at one of the suspects.
Investigations are continuing.
In a separate case, a 24-year-old man from Nyokosoba in Maseru was beaten to death by angry villagers on July 14.
According to the police, the deceased was accused of stealing blankets and boots.
“The villagers apprehended the suspect and then started hitting him,” Masupha said.
The suspect was rushed to hospital where doctors declared him dead.
Masupha said no one had been arrested in connection with the case.