MASERU – Four men are in detention after their arrest last week in connection with a series of armed robberies around the capital city Maseru, police said on Monday. The robbers had hit four stores in town, beginning with Dunns Store along the Kingsway Road on May 6, before they were apprehended by the police Robbery and Car Theft Squad. “On the day three men armed with guns and knives stormed the store and fled with M13 461 in cash and clothing valued at M5 388,” the police have said.
The quartet is also suspected to have, on June 1, entered Express Store at the Sefika Shopping Complex where they made off with M13 727 in cash and M8 714 worth of clothes. On June 3 the gun and knife wielding gang robbed another Dunns Store in the same complex where they took off with M1 000 cash and M9 500 in clothes. According to the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, two of the suspects were arrested along a public road at Qoatsaneng, on the outskirts of the city while travelling in a black Honda Fit vehicle bearing registration plates R2747.
The detained men are Lijane Taunyane (41) of Ha Ramoroane, Sehlabeng sa Thuathe, in Berea, but presently resident at Motse-Mocha, Tšenola, in Maseru; he was in the company of another 33-years-old man, also of Tšenola. They were found in possession of a .38 mm pistol and four 9mm rounds. On June 5 two others, 29-years-old Lehlohonolo Nkoto of Motse-Mocha, Tšenola, and 24-years-old Lebohang Tšoeu of Phahameng, Matsieng, were arrested while travelling in a Toyota Super Custom minibus bearing registration plates RP047.
The vehicles remain in police custody as exhibits in criminal activities they are suspected of committing, and part of the stolen clothes found in their possession include trousers, shoes, school bags and several other clothing items. Three of the suspects appeared before the Maseru Magistrate Court on June 8 charged with armed robbery and will appear again in court on June 16. Meanwhile, a 64-year-old mother, ’Mamothomanyane Moeta, and her 30-year-old son, Malitse Moeta, have been arrested and appeared before the Botha-Bothe Magistrate Court on June 3 to answer charges of human trafficking for sex exploitation.
The duo was released on free bail, and ordered to appear again before the same court on July 2.
According to the police the mother, a resident of Ha Rampai, Botha-Bothe, traversed neighbouring villages recruiting young girls for employment at her home as domestic workers and upon their arrival duped through the promise of a job these were then turned into sex slaves for her son Malitse. After sexually abusing them her the son would kick the girls out of the homestead while the mother would embark on a mission to find another victim. “A 26-year-old lady reported an incident of this nature to the police, indicating that she arrived at the Moeta family on May 23. She said upon arrival ‘Mamothomanyane told her her son was separated from his wife and that they looked good together and would make a good couple.
The young lady was then shown the son’s bedroom to sleep in, where she was raped for days until May 30 when the son kicked her out. She was not even paid for the days she had supposedly worked at the homestead,” police say.
Police reports further indicate that on the day they visited the family on an investigation following the report by the complainant ‘Mamothomanyane arrived at the home in the company of a young girl she claimed was her granddaughter. The girl, however, denied this, revealing this was her first visit to the village and she did not even know this family but that she had been promised a job as a domestic worker by ‘Mamothomanyane. Police say they have established that there are numerous victims who were lured into this sex trafficking scam but have not reported their ordeal to the police.
“We call on victims of this family’s criminal acts to report to the police while we continue with our investigations,” the police have appealed. In other news, a 54-year-old Apostolic Church of Zion pastor faces a charge of raping a 15-years-old girl with the assistance of his wife and mother-in-law. The pastor, who hails from Libataneng, Ha Ramatšeliso, in Qacha’s Nek, faces the rape, with his 21-year-old wife and 45-year-old mother-in-law as accomplices.
The trio was apprehended by police on June 1 on suspicion of sexually assaulting the teenager. The police said on May 23 the teenage girl was summoned to the church by the pastor’s wife to help with some church errands. The girl, police say, stayed overnight sleeping in the same room with the pastor and his wife. “She was, however, woken up in the middle of the night by the sounds of the couple making love,” police say.
Reports further indicate that it is at this time that the pastor introduced to his wife the need for “fresh blood” and asked the wife to lubricate the teenager’s genitals with Vaseline and proceeded to sexually assault the young girl several times during the night. The victim is reported to have left the church in the morning, going home where she narrated her ordeal to her grandmother – who is the pastor’s mother-in-law. “The mother-in-law advised the victim against reporting the rape to either the police or any other person as this would tarnish the reputation of the man of God,” police further revealed.