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Police need to do more to tackle murders of women, GBV: Morai

Tokelo Khausela

ESCALATING murders of women and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV) are a shameful stain on the country’s image, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mahlape Morai, has said.

DCP Morai- one of the few female high-ranking police officers- said there was no excuse for femicide and the police needed to up their game to tackle the murders and other serious crimes.

She made the remarks while addressing female police officers in Maseru who had marched in commemoration of the late Martha Rasekoai. Ms Rasekoai was employed at the Ministry of Development Planning Ministry. Her mangled body was found at a rivulet in Ha Tšolo, Maseru last month. No one has been arrested to date in connection with her gruesome killing.

The march was also aimed at commemorating Women’s Month and raising awareness about the need to eradicate GBV.

The officers came together under the umbrella of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Women’s Network, and marched from the police headquarters to Lifefo Ground in Ha Thetsane over the weekend.

Speaking at the event, DCP Morai said this Women’s Month should be used to prioritise issues affecting women and children. She said there was need for the police to increase efforts to tackle escalating femicide and other violent crimes against women.

“The rising statistics of femicide are a shame of our time,” DCP Morai said.

“As police officers, we need to pull up our socks. One life lost is one too many. Violence against women and children is unacceptable and inexcusable. It needs to end,” DCP Morai said.

She added that police had declared femicide and other forms of GBV “a pandemic” that had to be robustly dealt with. The LMPS Women’s Network was mandated to empower female officers to fight GBV and promote peace, she said.

“The LMPS Women’s Network is mandated to empower police women officers to fight gender-based violence and promote peace,” she said.

Senior Inspector Mojabeng Letsela, of the police’s Child and Gender protection Unit (CGPU), said her unit offers counselling services to GBV victims. It also offers protection to children, men and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community who have suffered GBV.

“It is commonly known that men abuse women, but men are also abused by women. We can’t condone any kind of abuse. A recent study conducted by the LMPS indicated that 86 percent of women are abused and 41 percent of men are perpetrators. These are alarming statistics requiring urgent attention to prevent the crimes from escalating any further,” Inspector Letsela said.

Libakiso Matlho, the Executive Director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) Lesotho, said her organisation capacitated women and children with legal information to enable them to tackle GBV.

“The elections are fast approaching and I plead with members of parliament and political leaders to implement laws that protect children and women because every human should enjoy their rights without fearing the worst,” Advocate Matlho said.

Ms Rasekoai’s killing was one of five such murders of women recorded in the final week of July.

Earlier in July, another four women had also been murdered in various parts of the country.

These murders are merely the latest in the ever escalating incidents of killings and violent crimes that have tainted the country’s image and could render it an unsafe destination for investors.

As if to illustrate the dark depths of their cruelty and depravity, the killers of the latest five women chose the eve of Women’s Month to commit their dastardly crimes.

Women’s Month was originally aimed at commemorating the spirited fight by South African women against repressive apartheid laws in the 1950s.

Now Women’s Month commemorates women in general, including Basotho women’s fight for emancipation from gender-based violence, rape, killings and other socio-cultural and economic ills.

But the killers cannot be bothered. The killings are escalating with each passing year.

All of this is happening because at the level of the households where values of respect and the sanctity of human life are supposed to be inculcated, the responsibility has been abandoned, analysts say.

Sunday Express is Lesotho's only Sunday newspaper. News: [email protected] | Advertising: [email protected] Telephone: +266 2231 5356

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