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MP Motšoane demands action against illegal firearms

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

In a fiery address during a community gathering at Mekaling in Mohale’s Hoek, Moeketsi Motšoane, Member of Parliament (MP) for Mafeteng constituency under the banner of Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) and the chairperson of the natural resources cluster unleashed a scathing indictment against the proliferation of illegal firearms in the country.

Motšoane minced no words as he highlighted the grave consequences of the rampant use of illegal guns in criminal activities, pointing out that these weapons have been implicated in numerous killings across the nation.

In 2021, it was reported that Lesotho had the sixth highest murder rate in the world, according to the World Population Review report.

The global average murder rate at that time was seven per 100,000 people and Lesotho had a rate almost six times higher at 41.25.

The country was ranked as only safer than El Salvador (82.84 per 100,000 people), Honduras (56.52), Venezuela (56.33), Virgin Islands (49.26) and Jamaica (47.01).

Lesotho, with a population of just over 2 million people, had more homicides than countries in conflict such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique.

DRC had a homicide score of 13.55, and Mozambique 3.4.

Lesotho’s much more populous neighbour, South Africa, had 33.97 murders per 100,000 people and was the only other Southern African Development Community country in the top 10 for highest rates of murder.

Expressing his exasperation, Motšoane underscored the urgent need for legislative action to address the scourge of illegal firearms.

He revealed the existence of draft laws requiring parliamentary attention and highlighted the pivotal role of lawmakers in enacting reforms to combat crime effectively.

Motšoane advocated for stringent measures, including the promulgation of the Bail Bill, to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of individuals involved in illegal gun trafficking.

“If we could not fight it as members of the parliament and agree on one thing that is of benefit for Basotho, a lot will be achieved in fighting crime as well as illegal guns,” he said.

Motšoane asserted that holding women complicit in helping their partners hide illegal firearms accountable would be crucial in curbing gun-related violence.

“We are going to make a law about possession of firearms and through that law, anyone who will be found in possession of an illegal gun will be sent to prison. Whether they have used the gun or not. This is the only thing that is going to help us to move away from killings and focus on other issues including improving the country’s economy,” he said.

Motšoane said there was no other house of the law that could solve the country’s problems other than the parliament. “The question is how members of the parliament take responsibility,” he said. 

“The truth is we do not have absolute power but we do have power so it depends on how we use the power we have to save communities,” he said.

Highlighting the devastating impact of gun violence on families, Motšoane recounted tragic instances where entire households fell victim to armed assailants.

An unofficial survey of the official social media pages of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), particularly on Facebook, conducted by this publication has determined that a staggering total of 53 illegal guns were seized in April 2024 alone.

Of these illicit firearms, 39 were reported confiscated by the police, while the remaining 14 were reported by the LDF.

According to Legalitylens.com, Lesotho’s gun control laws are primarily governed by the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1966.

However, this legislation, dating back to 1966, is archaic in the context of 2024.

Under this Act, private citizens are permitted to own firearms for purposes such as self-defense, hunting, and sport shooting. However, individuals must obtain a license to legally possess, carry, and use firearms in Lesotho.

Common types of firearms found in Lesotho include handguns like pistols and revolvers, typically used for self-defense, as well as rifles and shotguns, primarily utilized for hunting and sport shooting. Automatic and semi-automatic firearms are also present but are subject to stricter regulations, requiring special authorization from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

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