Saturday, January 23, 2021

Tensions run high as Mhalapitsa villagers prepare for riots

Villagers at Mhalapitsa are threatening to take the law into their hands during the Easter Holidays following the mysterious death of Kebaeletse Mmoniemang whose death sparked riots recently.

An angry mob of the villagers caused confusion and seriously assaulted a villager whom they accused of murdering Mmoniemang.

Now the police say they have identified about 22 suspects whom they refer to as “trouble makers” and who are expected to appear before the magistrate court soon.

Senior Superintendent Boikhutso Dintwa of District Number 2 in Serowe told The Sunday Standard this week that they had charged about 22 suspects who are suspected of having participated in recent riots that occurred at Mhalapitsa Village in which a local resident was badly assaulted.

Dintwa said that initially the police arrested about 85 people who took part in the riots but during the investigation the number dropped to 22.
He added that the suspects will be charged with unlawful assembly as well as assault.

On the other hand, Dintwa appealed to members of the public to assist them with information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits involved in the death of the 41-year-old Mmoniemang.

“At first we suspected that the deceased was involved in a hit and run accident but the docket was then transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department to establish whether it was an accident or purely murder, not because of riots but to satisfy our selves as the police,” he said, adding that the police contingent that had been deployed at the village to monitor the situation had been called off temporally but could be deployed again if need be.

However, information passed to The Sunday Standard this week suggests the village might go up in smoke as some village ring leaders are lobbing for support from other villagers who work outside the village to come during the Easter Holidays and take part in the strike.

The villagers are still holding secret meetings geared towards the riots and some elders of the village are being targeted.

Meanwhile, the sister to the deceased explained to Sunday Standard how she was arrested and the unsatisfactory way in which the police are conducting their investigations.

“I was arrested together with the villagers for no apparent reason just because I told the police that I was not happy about the way they are conducting their investigations,” said the family spokesperson, Pinkie Seano. “My brother was murdered for ritual purposes by people whom we know because some of his body parts were missing.”

She said the medical report stated that the brain of the deceased was missing.
She explained that sometime last month his brother was last seen with his two friends but that was the last time he was seen alive.
The police, she said, did not even question the last people who were seen with the deceased.

Seano accused the police of a cover up but said as the family they will not allow that.

“I am embarrassed by the way the villagers behaved,” said Bompoetse Gotshwanetse, the headman of Mhalapitsa Village.

He said the most disturbing thing is the fact that there are some adults who influence the youth to go on a rampage.

Gotshwanetse added that after the situation is calm he will call a kgotla meeting to discuss the whole matter, adding that this was the first time his village experienced such kind of behavior.

He said the riots were not politically motivated.

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