CONTROVERSY surrounds the death of a 39-year-old Kenyan national, Martin Masike, who was last week fatally stabbed by a civilian while he fleeing from the police in Butha-Buthe.
According to witnesses, the deceased was fleeing from police officers who intended to arrest him when he was stabbed by a member of the public on 9 April 2021.
However, despite the killer being apprehended and taken to court on Monday, national police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli this week said the man has been "acquitted".
"A 32-year-old Mpho Lithakong has since appeared before the Butha-Buthe Magistrates' Court facing murder charges," Snr Supt Mopeli said.
"However, he has since been acquitted because there was no postmortem report. He was freed on those ground."
Snr Supt Mopeli could not be drawn into revealing why the postmortem was not conducted.
Witnesses told the Lesotho Times this week that they were worried about how the matter was handled by the police from the onset. They said the deceased was fleeing from two police officers who allegedly intended to arrest him for selling abortion tablets.
"I saw two police officers chasing him shouting to the public to apprehend him and when he was about to reach St Paul Mission, he was stabbed to death by another man who wanted to stop him," said an eye-witness.
"The deceased man immediately fell to his knees but the police officers seemed not to care about his injuries when they arrived at the scene a few moments later."
Another witness who refused to be named condemned the police officers for failing to protect the deceased man.
"We are saddened by the officers' behaviour. Due to our week justice delivery system, it will not be surprising if the killer walks scot-free. We are not condemning the police officers for doing their job but they must respect human life. No one deserves to die like that, especially in a foreign land. We have many Basotho scattered across the world and we don't want them to be treated like that," he said.
A neighbour of the deceased, who confessed to have previously sought abortion services from him said she wanted justice for his death.
"We lived in the same area in Phaphama and he was always a peaceful man. He had become one of us. He helped several women abort unwanted pregnancies, myself included.
"I don't want anything less than justice for his death. He didn't deserve to die like that and it doesn't seem like his murderer will be taken to task. We want to see what will happen to the murderer," she said.