CIVIL society organizations last Sunday joined the Ribaneng community in Mafeteng district to pray for an end to famo-related killings that have so far claimed 63 lives in the district this year.
Stakeholders including members of the Ribaneng Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and the Lesotho Mounted Polices Services (LMPS) attended the prayer meeting. Also present was the Maliepetsana Constituency Member of Parliament, Mpalipali Molefe.
Speaking at the gathering, the CCL Secretary-General Khosi Makubakube condemned the acts of violence adding that the world over Lesotho is known as a Christian country expected to value human life and to live within the principles of righteousness and peace.
"It is therefore disturbing to hear reports of gruesome clashes that have seen many lives being lost. These acts go against our culture and Christian values. We need to continue praying for this district to be free of hatred and violence," said Mr Makubakube.
He encouraged the community of Ribaneng, where 23 murder cases were reported this year, to take a stand against violence and initiate home-grown conflict resolution and crime prevention solutions. Mr Makubakube explained that locally brewed initiatives will encourage the participation of the locals in coming up with solutions that can end a cycle of violent crimes. Some clashes, he indicated, were driven by long standing conflicts, revenge and hardship experienced by some families, particularly in cases where a breadwinner is lost.
"Many children are orphans and some women widows, all due to Famo-related deaths. Some people have witnessed the killing of their loved ones, calling for the need to ensure that such victims access counselling services to help them deal with the trauma. Counselling is also a violence prevention mechanism."
Mamopeli Mohale of Ribaneng is one of the victims still finding it difficult to come to terms with the killing of her husband and son in 2011. As if that was not enough, her herdboy is recovering from gunshot wounds he sustained in yet another recent clash.
"I am happy that today we are praying for peace as a community. I also pray for those not in attendance today to join us in future prayer meetings. With the spirit of God upon us we can work together for peace and see the wisdom of not protecting perpetrators of violence," Mrs Mohale said.
On his part, the Member of Parliament for Maliepetsana constituency, Mpalipali Molefe attributed some of the anger and fighting to lack of meaningful job opportunities, especially among young people.
"Creating opportunities such as agriculture-related projects can keep the youth busy and away from bad influences, which includes venturing into illegal mining activities in South Africa," said Mr Molefe. He explained there has been a disturbing trend of violence among some young people involved in illegal mining in South Africa.
He urged families to cooperate with police investigations as part of ensuring justice and to prevent further revenge attacks.