A Nazareth woman has made very serious allegations against a prominent member of the Lithoteng community — claims which are now the subject of police investigations, as alluded to in our lead story.
The woman says the 56-year-old businessman tricked her into coming to Maseru with promises of employment but later held her captive in an effort to force her into marriage.
The 20-year-old claims the man has been sleeping with her against her will since December last year and further insists she is now two months pregnant as a result of the sexual abuse.
The accused entrepreneur has, however, since denied the woman’s claims and made counter-accusations of his own, setting the stage for a potentially protracted legal battle, which could put police investigative skills and feminists to the ultimate test.
However, it is the police’s handling of the case which raises serious questions on whether the case is being accorded the seriousness that it deserves.
After making such serious accusations of rape, slavery, abduction and trafficking against the businessman, the least the woman expected — as she told our reporter — was for her alleged abuser to be treated like a suspect.
But the woman says to her astonishment, the entrepreneur is not only a very free man but also appears to have already convinced investigators of his innocence — a development she said has left her with little hope of the case ever being taken before a court of law.
The police, however, argue the man cannot be taken as a suspect until his guilt has been established through their investigations.
It is true one is considered innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court of law.
And this is exactly what we believe the police should have done in this case by simply following criminal justice procedures and taking the businessman to court where his innocence or guilt would be proved.
On countless occasions, we have witnessed people being dragged to the courts for lesser crimes.
It goes without saying the aggrieved woman believed by taking her case to the police, she would get the justice that she deserves.
The police have always urged communities not to take the law into their own hands and report whatever grievances they might have to the relevant authorities, which is exactly what this woman has done.
It is our sincere hope that justice is finally going to prevail in this case, thereby reassuring the general citizenry that we are all equal before the law, no-matter our backgrounds .
A quick referral of the case to the courts would also enable the businessman to carry on with his life should he be exonerated of any wrongdoing, while his accuser is punished for accusing him of such serious crimes.