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Kao villagers demand justice


KAO – Beleaguered communities of Kao have voiced their dissatisfaction over what they say is government failure to intervene in their long-standing antagonistic relations with the Botha-Bothe police.

This became salient during the memorial service of Poshoane Moloi who was killed by the police on December 27, 2018, in a much-condemned down operation conducted by the men in blue in Ha-Sheshile and Lihloahloeng.

In an interview with MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism on the side-lines of his brother’s memorial service, Moloi Moloi said he would soon approach the courts of law to seek justice for his brother.

“What is of interest to me right now is to hold accountable police officers who are implicated in my brother’s death. As a law-abiding citizen, I will let the law to take its course,” Moloi said.

He was however sceptical justice will be served over the murder of his brother, saying “it is almost a year now since the death of Terene Pitae who was also killed by police, but his killers still roam around as if nothing happened”.

Pitae died during a violent clash between the Botha-Bothe police and villagers who were protesting against operations the Storm Mountain Diamond mine in Kao on February 28, 2018. Other two villagers were left critically injured.

The Motete Constituency Member of Parliament Tumahole Lerafa since weighed in to register his disappointment over lack of action against police officers who have brutalised the Kao community.

Addressing villagers who had gathered to attend the memorial service, Lerafa said: “One thing that bothers me is the silence of the government on the most salient issues concerning the Kao communities. I wonder if the government is aware that it has been elected by the people to be where it is but it seems not bothered by the police brutality and the hardships that the Kao community is subjected to”.

Lerafa added: “We heard that police came here already having identified possible suspects. I therefore ask myself why did they haul and ended assaulted innocent persons when one would think that they had actionable intelligence”.

The Transformation Resource Centre’s Director Tsikoane Peshoane said he was surprised that the government has remained mum on the police brutality at Kao “despite how salient this issue is. The government’s silence is too loud.”

According to Peshoane, the only time politicians in government talk, “is when they hackle each other at the political field, but when it comes to the Kao situation, their silence is too loud”.

But the government spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane said “the government, through the prime minister’s statement of October 21, 2018, indicated that it was against the mistreatment of people, torture and even killing by the police”.

Selinyane said: “The prime minister, in that statement, further ordered prompt investigations that would lead to justice to those deserving,” he added.

He said “regarding this latest incident of Kao, the police said they sent an investigation team there to find out what actually happened because the (Police) Headquarters was made to believe that it was an operation to quell some unrests. But after this outcry, the police commissioner announced that they have started investigations”.

The prime minister’s statement that Selinyane referred to reads: “The government heard the cry especially of women who cry foul against murders of their male children and men who are killed without unreasonably. There is nowhere we can go if today, some elements of the police have turned into a wolf in a sheep’s clothing by engaging in criminal activities”.

The government, Thabane said, was committed to investigating reports of “these unfortunate incidents and to see to it that those responsible are held accountable. It is my expectation that the minister of police and commissioner of police will do what is right and ensure open investigation is conducted and completed timely so that justice could be served”.

For his part, the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli told the Centre that they have stopped investigations on Kao because they have been asked by a parliament’s portfolio committee on law and public safety to stop with their probe pending finalisation of the committee’s inquiry into the matter.

Molibeli, however, assured the Centre that “those implicated shall be put before the courts of law”.

About the case of Pitae, Molibeli said “we investigated the matter and the directive was sought accordingly and the case is pending an inquest”.

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