Lesotho has been experiencing unprecedented criminal hits since the beginning of 2022 although as the date for the upcoming general elections slated for October 07, 2022 nears, it seems the surge is getting worse by the day with instances of organised or syndicate crimes ever rising.
There have been organised crimes that have targeted multiple fuel garages around the Maseru city which include hijacking, burglaries, theft, fraud and the terrifying murders especially on women and children.
In response to the worrying trend, and in attempt to arrest it, Commander of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela while giving the soldiers commands at Makoanyane Barracks this week gave a stern warning to the criminal cabals saying the LDF is worried about the on-going violent crimes that have been a trend lately in the country and they cannot let Basotho be held hostage and live in fear.
He urged the responsible people to stop immediately with their crimes as they are about to tackle the problem head-on. He also urged the public to report and give LDF necessary tip-offs as well as any information related to these organised crimes as he said it is only through them that they can get to these perpetrators.
“This is a threat to the democracy of the country which if left alone will cripple the national economy as well. These perpetrators need to be found because they are dangerous as people need to live freely in their country,” Letsoela said.
However, Letsoela said there are two rogue soldiers who have deserted their work who are said to have become part of another criminal syndicate operating in illegal mines in South Africa after the reports that they have joined the Famo Music Gangs which seem to have been involved in organised crimes in and outside of the country.
He urged them to return home and hand themselves to the military police as they need to answer as well as report themselves about their desertion from work. As he said their manhunt has already began and they will appear before the martial court as soon as they are found.
The Commander also mentioned that, they have realised that there is a group of people who are threatening the youth that were part of recent LDF initiatives to instil patriotism in the youths through a boot camp practice. This was also stated by the LDF Public Affairs Officer, Captain Sakeng Lekola who said LDF beliefs that these threats are meant to tarnish the good plans that the boot camps were meant for.
Lekola said the boot camps are LDF’s initiative to fight crimes teach the youth about oneness and patriotism.
Meanwhile, Security Unlimited (SU), a private security company, also issued a statement about their concerns on the on-going organised crimes in the capital Maseru as well as other towns of the country. In the statement, SU stated that, there is definitely an increase in incidents of armed robbery.
SU also urged local companies to desist sending their employees around with large sums of money as there is no monetary value to buy back any person’s life once it has been taken away by the criminals.
Some of the latest organised crimes recorded in the month of July in Maseru include, an attempted hi-jacking of a businessman returning homearound Hillsview, Khali Junction although this one was botched.
There was also one in which a Ha-Foso, Puma filling station was invaded by armed men who robbed it of an undisclosed amount of money. At Borokhoaneng, Puma filling station another armed robbery occurred and an undisclosed amount of money stolen as well as at the Katlehong, new Puma filling station.
Weighing-in on the situation, Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS), Deputy Spokesperson, ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka explained that they are well positioned and trained to avert these kind of instances although due to some challenges such as shortage of vehicles to aid their mobility, they are not always able to make timeous responses to criminal incidents.
Mofoka said LMPS began the investigations of the organised crimes that have been occurring in and around Maseru as she mentioned that they have not yet arrested any suspects yet except for the latest suspects who were caught by the security guards at Mpeoa Supermarket in Naleli.
She added that, the LMPS officials had a meeting on July 31, 2022 with the Maseru Business Committee on the way forward and the ways to counter the growing surge of crimes. She said more information on the details discussed at the said meeting will be discussed at a later stage.
Still addressing the issue, Mofoka said the businesses should hire money transit companies for their services as a way to prevent these crimes.
She said 90% of all the robberies seem to have been orchestrated by persons working within the hit establishments with details on where and when the money would be moved, adding that the businesses are also to be blame as they make security guards do the extra work that they are not trained to do like checking cash receipts and controlling traffic at filling stations.
This she said makes the security guards lose focus of their post and their actual job of patrolling as well as surveying for anything suspicions so they can act on time. She urged the security companies to gear up their officers with tactical weapons as they cannot fight the perpetrators with knives and whips.
The LMPS has thus urged the public not to lose heart but stay vigilant in their confidence in the police as they are not just sitting by watching as the crimes unfold.