. . . as incidents of brutal killings escalate
VILLAGERS in Qeme are living in fear following the recent cold-blooded killings of two residents – a development that has increased the number of brutal killings in the area to more than 30 since 2004.
In 2004 alone, nine people were gunned down in a fight between villagers from Ha Thaabe and Ha Motheo in Qeme which was reportedly sparked by a wrangle over the control of abandoned gold mines in the North West and the Free State provinces of South Africa.
And people have continued to die and suffer serious injuries through brutal assaults in the two villages – with the latest being the killing of a 39-year-old Tello Tsibela on Friday night.
Narrating the brutal killing of her son, Tello’s mother, ‘Makhothatso Tsibela said the deceased had left them at his uncle’s residence where they were attending a family meeting on Friday in the same village.
“He left us at Uncle Jack’s house to go and see off his wife who was going for a night shift at the factories,” Ms Tsibela said, adding, “he went outside our house to smoke while his father lay down inside”.
She said soon afterwards, some armed people stormed the yard and shot the deceased who had tried in vain to run for his life.
“He was shot three times and his father found his lifeless body behind the house. His two children, aged six and 10 were sleeping in the house.
“We called the Ha Thaabe police officers who did not come. We then alerted the area chief who called Mazenod Police Station who later came and collected the corpse,” Ms Tsibela said.
She said the horrific killings were escalating despite police being deployed in the area to work closely with villagers.
Another villager who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the killings had reached a boiling point with gang members celebrating each time they killed a rival.
“Tello was killed at about 7 pm and at about 10 pm, rival gang members parked a car near his house and held a mini-party. That is how heartless we have become,” the source said, adding that it was sad that young people were inheriting old rivalries.
He said the hatred between Ha Thaabe and Ha Motheo villages had intensified to a level where police officers were also being overwhelmed.
The villager also indicated there were also claims that the gangs were bribing the police officers who were increasingly leaving the post unattended.
“It is less than 100 metres from Tello’s house to the post and the police never rushed to the crime of scene. The chief had to call Mazenod Police Station for help. What does that say about the deployed police officers?
“Until today, they have not visited the Tsibela family for interviews and to allay their fears. This fight has been going on for more than 10 years and deploying officers is a clear indication that the police are aware of how delicate the situation is and yet the deployed officers seem unperturbed,” he said.
Another resident, ‘Maleketa Lebusa, said the police officers were deployed after a public gathering organised by the police boss to address the matter in 2014.
“At that time one of my sons had just been killed in South Africa and I vividly remember that day as if it was yesterday because his enemy held a party in the village to celebrate his death,” Ms Lebusa said.
Less than a year later, the Lebusa family were left in shock after another son, Rethabile, was gunned down on November 9 2015 just a day after his house was torched down.
“I lost two sons in less than a year due to the escalating hatred in this village and I remember the two incidences as if they happened tomorrow because some people held a party in celebration of my son’s deaths,” Ms Lebusa said.
It is not only the villagers that are living in fear, even the Ha Thaabe chief told this paper that the situation had become increasingly volatile that he would not give an interview.
“I don’t even want you to mention my name in your paper because these people will come for my life as well. Anything is possible in this village and no one is safe. So please understand my situation,” the chief said.
He added: “The only thing I can tell you is that the police, Matsieng principal chief (Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso), Qeme Member of Parliament (Nkaku Kabi) and councilors will attend a public gathering on this matter at Ha Mantšebo on Tuesday.”
Contacted for comment, the police officer commanding Maseru Rural, Senior Superintendent Nthakong Ntlaba said they had since been forced to indefinitely postpone the Tuesday meeting due to unforeseen circumstances.
“You can call me on Monday because at the moment I am not in the office to give you details of the incidences you are referring to. I don’t understand why the Qeme villagers have not called and alerted me that the deployed officers were allegedly not doing their job.
“I have given them my personal numbers and keeping quiet about these allegations is not helping matters at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, a 47-year-old Ha Motemekoane, Qeme businesswoman was gunned down on Wednesday night.