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Uproar over soldier’s bail

Mohalenyane Phakela

WOMEN’S rights movements, She Hive and The Total Shutdown, have accused the government and judiciary in particular, of not doing enough to tackle the rampant abuse of women and children.

The two organisations told the Sunday Express that the law exposed women to great danger through its failure to come down hard on the perpetrators of gender-based violence.

They said this in the aftermath last Tuesday’s decision by the High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi to grant M1000 bail to the murder-accused soldier, Moeketsi Koloti.

Koloti was granted bail after the Crown Counsel, Advocate Mashapha Letsie, told the court that the state was not opposed to his bail application. Koloti is accused of murdering his wife on 30 November 2018 by shooting her several times all over the body.

It is alleged that Mr Koloti committed the offence because he expected an insurance payout of M120 000 for his wife’s death.

Koloti allegedly shot his wife and left her to die at Sethaleng near Maseru Mall. He went home with her bag from which he took her mobile phone and texted to his own phone pretending that it was his wife who was texting him to inform him that she had been abducted by unknown assailants. The wife was found dead at Sethaleng with gunshot wounds on 1 December 2018.

Human rights activist and representative of The Total Shutdown, Keiso Mohloboli, yesterday told the Sunday Express that the murder should be regarded as a high-profile case which needed to be dealt with urgently.

“It is heart-breaking for a murderer who deprived a child of a mother’s love and warmth to have been granted bail unopposed,” Ms Mohloboli said.

“Murderers’ cases should be treated as high profile ones and with urgency but here in Lesotho people get killed like ants and it’s business as usual. As a group (women and girls) considered vulnerable we feel so exposed to danger but nothing is being done to assure or guarantee our safety. We no longer trust our relatives, brothers and fathers anymore.

“The 8th of March marked the International Women’s day but we had absolutely nothing to celebrate due to multiple reports of women, children, and gender non-conforming people who have been brutally murdered, kidnapped or abused. There is no sense of urgency from either government, police service or judiciary to find ways in which society can tackle this violence. Women as well as the LGBTI and children keep dying at the hands of men in Lesotho and something needs to be done urgently,” Ms Mohloboli said.

She Hive director Mamakhethe Phomane appealed to the government to review the bail conditions which allegedly “allowed culprits to get away with murder”.

“We know that bail is every individual’s right but we feel before it is being granted the prosecution and judge should consider the feelings or safety of those affected. In this case, there were so many people who were hurt by the brutal murder and they may feel the courts did them an injustice by granting the accused bail. My fear is that they may want to take revenge by taking the law into their hands or rather they could live in fear of being killed too by the same man.

“The problem is that murder cases drag on for a long time so when suspects are released on bail, they continue with their lives as if nothing happened. At times, cases just varnish into thin air as there will be excuses that the docket disappeared.

“The government should consider reviewing the bail conditions because they may be perpetuating the high rate of abuse. For instance, if one is assured that he is guaranteed bail, he may continuously commit the same crime. This may also make others feel it is not a bad thing to kill a person because at most they would just spend a week in jail and thereafter continue with their lives as if nothing happened,” Ms Phomane said.

From the beginning of last year, gender-based violence against women appears to be on the rise.

On 23 July last year, five women were gunned down in cold blood by unknown killers in Ha-Mokauli, Maseru and up until now the suspects have not been apprehended and the motive for the killings remain unknown.

Before that in May 2018, a Roman Catholic nun was murdered by her lover, a priest with the same church in Leribe and up to now the case has not gone for trial.

In January last year, the Ntširele community in Khubetsoana, Maseru were shocked by the brutal murder of prominent businesswoman ‘Mathabang Radiile, allegedly by her live-in partner, Lebohang Nkuebe.

Ms Radiile’s then four-month-old grand-daughter was seriously injured after being sprayed with acid in one of the most gruesome cases of women and child abuse in Lesotho.

Lebohang Nkuebe subsequently appeared in court over the murder and the case is pending.

In 2017, there were several cases of the killings of women and children that were reported. The violence and killings are part of wider global scourge which the World Bank says affects one in every three women.

In April 2018, the World Bank published an article which showed that globally, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

The World Bank also reported that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. It further revealed that seven percent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone else other than their partner.

“One characteristic of Violence against Women and Girls is that it knows no social or economic boundaries: this issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries, and affects women of all socio-economic backgrounds.

“When speaking about violence against women and girls, it is important to remember that this issue involves both men and women and requires a holistic approach. The overwhelming majority of violence is perpetrated by men, and addressing male perpetration is a critical part of addressing the violence,” the World Bank states in its article titled ‘Violence against Women and Girls’.

The World Bank also said it had committed US$150 million in development projects around the world aimed at addressing violence against women and girls.

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