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Kabi, Lehlanya reaffirm alliance

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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…as wanted Famo leader seemingly backtracks on his pledge to surrender to SA police

Moroke Sekoboto

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Nkaku Kabi, and murder-accused Famo gang leader, Sarele ‘Lehlanya’ Sello, have pledged to continue working together despite the negative publicity surrounding the latter and his followers.

Addressing thousands of ABC supporters at the party’s final rally at Lower Thetsane ahead of tomorrow’s elections, Mr Sello hailed Mr Kabi for his “great leadership skills” and for standing by him and his followers after the South African police last month issued a warrant for their arrests in connection with 16 murder and seven attempted murder charges.

Mr Sello and four others are wanted in South Africa for allegedly killing 16 patrons and seriously wounding seven others at Mdlalose’s Tavern in Soweto on 10 July 2022.

Besides Sello, the SAPS has also issued arrest warrants for Tšepiso Elliot Radebe, Thabang Radikatara, Tšeliso Moleko and Keletso Rabasotho, all Lesotho nationals.

In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times three weeks ago, Mr Sello had said he and his fellow gang members would surrender themselves to South African police and challenge all the charges preferred against them.

He had insisted they were innocent of the charges. Last week, the South African police said they had arrested two suspects in connection with the gruesome killings. Although they refused to release the names of the suspects,  Mr Sello and his followers were not among those arrested. The South African police also said no one had given themselves up despite Mr Sello’s promises.

The Famo gang leader and his followers are still in Lesotho and they even attended the ABC rally on Sunday. As usual, they sang songs and danced their way to the stage in their trademark yellow and black blankets. Much to the amusement of the crowd, one of the gangsters even turned up in a woman’s bra and underwear.

The gangsters flanked the stage as Mr Sello addressed ABC followers.

In an apparent about-turn suggesting that he would no longer surrender to the South African police as he had promised, Mr Sello said allegations of their involvement in the Soweto massacre were false and the real culprits had been nabbed.

He thanked Mr Kabi for sticking with them when the allegations of their involvement in the crime surfaced. He said the ABC and his Famo faction’s alliance went a long way back and no one would come between the two sides.

“I’m grateful to Ntate Kabi as he showed great leadership skills by advising us instead of judging us,” Mr Sello said.

“He told us to surrender ourselves to the South African authorities if we were guilty. Some people said he was selling us out when he was merely advising us as a great leader ought to.

“The allegations about our involvement in the shooting in Soweto are false and the real perpetrators have been arrested. We live in Matlatsane, Klerksdorp, not in Soweto. I am a grown man of 50 years. I can’t be connected with such dirty deeds. We are good people and we are not mentally ill. These allegations were made by politicians in Lesotho to discredit us and the ABC. They wanted to drag the ABC through the mud but they didn’t succeed,” Mr Sello said.

The Famo leader, who Mr Kabi credits with allegedly recruiting more than 40 000 new supporters to the ABC, pledged to vote for the party and continue working with it beyond the polls.

“I say to you Ntate Kabi, we will turn out in large numbers to vote for the ABC. After the elections, we will continue working with the ABC as if nothing ever happened because we haven’t committed any crime,” Mr Sello said.

On his part, Mr Kabi said he had engaged the South African authorities over the claims that Mr Sello and his gang were involved in the Soweto massacre.  Despite the engagements, there was no clarity over the Famo gang’s alleged involvement, Mr Kabi said.

He said he had tried in vain to engage other political leaders to end the bitter feuds among the Famo gangs which had resulted in reciprocal killings as well as the murders of innocent people.

He however, said the ABC would continue working with Sello and other “stigmatised” Famo gangs to improve their welfare.

Mr Kabi’s affirmation of his alliance with Mr Sello is in spite of widespread calls by other political leaders and analysts for political parties to distance themselves from Famo gangs due to the violence and criminal allegations against them.

Continuing to associate with suspected criminals was a huge public relations disaster for politicians doing so, analysts have warned. They could not possibly expect a crime-weary electorate to vote for them in tomorrow’s polls.

More importantly, this could have far-reaching consequences for Lesotho’s relations with South Africa where the rampaging gangs are also wreaking untold havoc through their violent crimes, the analysts warn.