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Church joins community in walk against crime

Thuso Litjobo

Feb. 17, 2020 5 min read

KORO-KORO - The St. Joseph's Christians at Koro Koro walked from the Linotši football ground to the St. Joseph's Mission church in demonstration against criminal activities on Sunday.

The congregants some clad in their different church's regalia drawn from various groupings and ages walked holding candles and singing church hymns to the mission.

The walk started with a holy mass led by St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church Reverend Father Simon Ratikane before the church's normal services resumed which was graced by the presence of Principal Chief of Matsieng, Chief Seeiso Bereng popularly known as Tšoana Mantata, accompanied by his wife and a parliamentarian Mr. Thuso Litjobo from Koro Koro.

Speaking at the end of the church service, Tšoana Mantata said he had come to put out fire as St. Joseph's Mission was up in flames, referring to last month's incidences in which the church's office was burnt vandalising office documentation such as baptismal, marriage, confirmation, death as well as birth certificates.

Chief Seeiso said St. Joseph's Mission was up in flames, adding that when he got the message from Rev. Fr. Ratikane, he had planned to attend the occasion together with other members of the royal family, saying the event was at a short notice which clashed with the planned activity for King Letsie III and Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso hence their absence.

He described that they were saddened by what had happened at the mission, adding that their heads are down with shame and embarrassment.

“The actions of torching within the church premises which is the holy place means that the sanctuary has been damaged,” he commented.

Chief Seeiso said St. Joseph was new as a target for criminal offences, especially which take place within the church premises, making an example of Rev. Father Peter Seakhi who was once killed within the church's premises.

He therefore called for the presence of police, who should be deployment, in order to provide security, adding that he was also ready to come with him men clad in blankets to bring law and order in the area.

On the other hand he promised to call a public gathering as a way of warning the community about the criminal offences.

“When I get back home I am going to put down the church's regalia and bring my men clad in blankets to come here and bring law and order,” he reiterated.

The Principal Chief said it was high time that they stand up and do something to protect the church and the priest, calling on the perpetrators to come forward and confess before they could be forgiven.

A parliamentarian from Koro Koro Mr. Litjobo also condemned the acts, but appealed to the Christians to forgive the perpetrators saying they did not know what they were doing.

Rev, Fr. Ratikane on the other hand related the criminal events which have occurred since his arrival at St. Joseph's way back in 2014, saying his appointment was to come and preach the word of God.

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He made it clear that if the perpetrators through their actions think he will pack his bags and leave the Mission, they are wrong, saying they better make peace with his presence as the past five years will be added by another 15 years to make it 20 years.

Rev. Fr. Ratikane appealed to some of the parents in the area, especially from Ha Mahlelebe and Ha Mapeshoane not to forget their roles but to reprimand their children for any wrong doing.

Again, he made it clear that he was not a shy person but was brave enough to face whatever is coming on his way, adding that he enjoys massive support from other members of the congregation, the head man and the villagers.

Speaking on behalf of the Maseru Rural Police, Superintend 'Malichaba Talasi promised to investigate the criminal offences, adding that the police investigations are at an advanced stage.

She however appealed to the general public to assist them with any information that could speed up in arresting the perpetrators.She even provided her contact numbers for the public to call her personally if they have any information that could assist the police.

Mrs. Talasi noted that if parents chose to protect and not expose the deeds of their children, they could end up being the victims. Headman of Ha Mahlelebe, Chief Thuso Mahlelebe speaking in an interview said they are disappointed by the criminal offenses in the area.

He believed that the criminal offences could be carried out by people from other neighbouring villages who want to tarnish the good name of the area.

However, he said he was working together with police to ensure that perpetrators are eventually arrested.

He therefore appealed to any villagers or those with information to approach police so that justice could be done.

Chief Mahlelebe said besides the crime which occurred in the mission, there are also killings from the Famo music groups as well as illegal miners working in South Africa who bring their differences to the area.

Ha Mofoka Officer Commanding, Senior Inspector Motlalehi Phihlela said no arrests have been made but police investigations are at an advanced stage and also appealed for the community to assist with information.

Mr. Christopher Shale who is one of the community members who organised the march said they believe that perpetrators will stop their evil deeds, adding that prayer is part of the healing process for the broken hearts.

On the other hand, he said the area has many people from different professionals such as the army who are not happy with what was happening in the area.

However, Mr. Shale claimed that he knew three suspects whom he said he informed the police about them from the same area, adding that they were only called for questioning and released but was yet to find out why.

He said now threats are being directed to Rev, Fr. Ratikane, that he is next to be burnt.

A series of criminal offences include burning the church's office, breaking the St. Joseph High School Office and stealing M2500 last month.

Since 2014, three people died from gun fights that occurred in the area as well as one member of the church who was killed and a cow which was found slaughtered with remains left in the area, as well as a goat that was killed and its head and intestines left on a teacher’s chair.


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