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Two in court over vigilante killings

Senate Lerotholi

TWO men have appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court in connection with the recent murder of two taxi operators who were burnt to death by an angry mob at Ha-Matala.

Police Senior Superintendent (SSP) Rantoane Motsoetla said Lentšo Tlali (39) of Makhoakhoeng and Bafokeng Mphatšoane (29) of Nazareth Hlokoa-le-Mafi are accused of being the ring leaders in the shocking and grisly incident.

The taxi operators were last week burnt to ashes in the chilling incident which was captured in a widely circulated video after they were accused them of stealing gas cylinders.

In a statement, SSP Motsoetla said the two appeared in court on Thursday.

They were remanded in custody until their next court appearance on June 30 2022, he said.

Ha-Matala Chief, ‘Makatleho Matala, said he had been informed that the two had stolen gas cylinders from a house in neighbouring Makhoakhoeng. They were chased as they drove off with two other men and they were caught at Ha-Matala. Residents ganged up and set them alight after discovering the stolen gas cylinders in their car.

Sources said the duo had been hired by two other men to transport gas cylinders stolen from a Makhoakhoeng businessman’s house. They were not even aware that the cylinders had been stolen and they were not even given a chance to explain anything by the mob who caught up with them as they drove away with the stolen cylinders.

SSP Motsoetla said police investigations into the matter were continuing.

“We are still conducting investigations into this matter. We once again, urge the public to refrain from taking the law into their hands. We have law enforcement agencies to deal with such matters,” he said.

Cases of vigilante killings are on the rise in the country as public anger grows over the police’s failure to investigate and arrest criminals.

In the few instances that suspects have been arrested, they are quickly released on bail to roam the streets and commit more crimes. They lengthy delays in prosecuting cases are fuelling cases of mob justice.

Less than a year ago, Thabong, Maseru villagers took the law into their own hands and murdered two men who were part of a gang that had raped and murdered a Lerotholi Polytechnic student.

Enraged by the student’s rape and murder, the villagers tracked the criminals, caught two of them, and savagely beat them before setting them alight.

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