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‘We will not rest until our daughter gets justice’

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE parents of a three-year-old girl from Ha Foso in the Berea district who was allegedly raped by a popular musician earlier this year says she is still confident that the accused will soon have his day in court for justice to be served.

Tuesday marks four months after the Berea Magistrate’s Court ordered the police to conduct more investigations before the case could proceed.

However, despite the long wait, the toddler’s parents remain hopeful that the alleged rapist, popular musician Lele Khesuoe, will soon have his day in court and justice will be served for their daughter.

The mother of the child told this publication in a recent interview that although it has been a long time without any promising progress, they were still hopeful.

“Nothing promising has surfaced as yet as the police keep telling us that investigations are still ongoing and they will tell us when all is ready,” the mother who cannot be identified for the protection of the minor victim said.

“I am not going to give up on the matter until justice is served for my daughter. All I have to do is wait for the police to complete their investigations.”

On the other hand, acting police spokesperson, Senior Inspector Rantoane Motsoetle, said that investigations were still ongoing.

“On 16 July Lele Khesue appeared before the Berea Magistrate where the prosecutor said the evidence presented before him was not enough therefore the case should go back (to the police for investigations).

“The prosecutor has powers to decide whether or not the case can stand in court and it is up to the police to gather enough evidence which will prove that the suspect is indeed guilty hence the case is still being investigated. When all the required information is ready the case will go back to court,” Snr Insp Motsoetle said.

Khesue, a popular musician, made a brief appearance before the Berea Magistrate on 16 July 2018, accused of raping the three-year-old in Ha Foso on 30 June.

However, Chief Prosecutor, Advocate Lesaoana Mohale, sent the case back to Mabote Police Station where it was being held saying the information in the docket was incomplete.

“There are certain issues that are missing from the information tabled before the court so I have asked the investigators to work closely with the parents to get missing information,” Adv Mohale said.

The three-year-old was allegedly raped on 30 June but the parents only confirmed three days later when they had taken the child to see a doctor after she had complained about pain on her private parts. On the same day, the mother filed a case before Mabote Police station but the matter was only attended to 10 days later.

On the morning of 16 July, before heading to Teyateyaneng, the parents had been asked to bring the child to Mabote Police station so that the child could be interviewed by the government’s psychologists.

It was on the day at Mabote Police Station that the mother related the ordeal to the Sunday Express’ sister publication, the Lesotho Times.

“On that Saturday (30 June) evening the girl told her father that her private parts were painful but we took it lightly. The following evening when I returned from work, I tried to bathe her but then she asked me not to use soap on her private parts saying it was causing her pain. I had not used soap but I thought maybe I was hard on her.

“It was cold the following day so I did not bathe her in the morning but when I came back from work in the evening. Before I bathed her, her father told me that she still complained about the pain so I should check her. I noticed a white liquid oozing from her private parts while continued mourning of pain and since it was late I only took her to the hospital on Tuesday (3 July) morning.

“A chill trickled down my spine when the doctor told me that my child had been raped. The doctor filled a document and told me to immediately go to the police and that is when I came here (Mabote Police station) and opened a case.”

On the way to Ha Mabote, the mother said that she interrogated the child about what had happened and she told her what had happened.

“She told me that while she was on the way to the shop with her sister (seven), the accused called them to his yard. Upon arrival he gave the sister a bicycle to play with and then took the little one into a shack. While in there she said he took off her track-pants, smeared her with petroleum jelly on the private parts and had sex with her.

“When I got home from the police station I asked the sister and she corroborated the story further saying that when coming out of the shack her sister could hardly walk. She said he then tried to put her on a bicycle but the little girl cried of pain and that is when the rapist yelled at her not to make noise. She said he then gave them M1, 20 to buy sweets and told them not to say a word to anyone.”

The mother said while at the station, she was told by the police officer that she would get a call from the police but the week ended without even an SMS. Her husband then went to ask at the police station the next Monday (9 July) and was told that the officer who was handling the case was unavailable but a different officer would take over the case.

“It was only last Friday (13 July) when the police started working on the case and we were told to come back today (16 July) as on Friday there were no psychologists who could interview my daughter. I do not understand why it takes so long, we are told that the information is incomplete but to me, I feel the mere fact of taking off my girl’s pants is enough to constitute sexual abuse.

“It brings so much pain seeing him roaming the streets like nothing happened but I will stop at nothing until my child gets justice. I am not afraid of anyone. It is us parents who promote such behaviour by letting the doers walk free by hiding such issues because we care mostly about what others will say. The best way to protect a child is to ensure that people who commit such crimes are locked away,” she said.

Meanwhile, Khesuoe has denied the rape allegations in an interview with a local radio station on 18 July. He said he had never seen the child until the allegations were made against him and it was clear to him that “someone” was out to tarnish his image.

“I will not get into the details and my whereabouts on the day (of the alleged rape) as they are part of the investigations which will be revealed in court. What I can boldly say is that I am not guilty. I had not seen the child or her parents before until we met in court on Monday (16 July).

“I do not drink or smoke and I always spend most of the time on my own because I do not want to get into trouble with anyone. Any experts can be brought in to investigate the matter and they will realise that I am innocent. I have never committed any crime or ever been summoned by the area chief for misbehaviour.

“Two years ago I worked with an NGO in their campaign against the abuse of children and women so I know everything about abuse and there is no way I could commit such a crime.

“I learned that while I was at Mabote Police station there were women from a political party who were chanting outside and therefore it is clear that someone has an agenda to tarnish my image. No wonder why there is so much hype around it. I worked hard to be where I am today.

“Being in that cell was the worst experience I have ever had and God help me I will overcome this challenge,” Khesuoe said in July this year.

Lesotho continues to record a high number of rape and other violent crimes against women and children despite calls to end the scourge.

The country ranks second only to Sweden in the number of sexual violence against women.

Earlier this month women in Matelile, in the Mafeteng district declared war on criminals and appealed to the government to consider imposing the death penalty to punish offenders and deter like-minded people from criminal activities.

The women said this at a recent public gathering in Matelile that was also attended by some cabinet ministers, the commissioner of police Holomo Molibeli, senior police officers from the district as well as members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).

According to the Death Penalty Worldwide website, Lesotho reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council that its last execution was carried out in 1995.

However, the Mafeteng women called for the courts to impose the death sentence as punishment and deterrent after a spate of murders that have rocked the district in recent years.

A spokesperson of the women, Mamikia Nkonyana, said: “I’m very sure that if one or two people could be hanged after being found guilty of murder or rape, this would instill fear and deter others from killing people. Surely the murder statistics would go down”.

Two months ago, police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli called on men to desist from murdering women and instead afford them greater protection from criminals.

“Violence does not fix anything and people should start seeking interventions whenever there is a disagreement,” Supt Mopeli said adding that, “men must stop killing women and start protecting them especially now that it is Women’s Month”.

His remarks came against the background of two separate incidents in which two men, one from Butha-Buthe and the other from Maseru, recently killed their wives.

In the first incident, a 31-year-old junior doctor from Borokhoaneng in Maseru was arrested for killing his 28-year-old wife.

The Mafeteng district was also recently left shell shocked after an 83-year-old granny was raped and murdered in her own house on 15 September 2018 in a suspected case of a ritual killing.

‘Masefali Mporoane, of Malealea, was found dead by her nephew Molikeng Mporoane in the morning of 16 September 2018.

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