photo of person from Lesotho the maluti mountains
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introducing the area

justice and crime

 quotes about justice and crime
 key testimonies featuring justice and crime

Several narrators describe how there is generally more anti-social behaviour and crime nowadays because beating is no longer used as a punishment; being fined is seen as less of a deterrent. The system described suggests that at first the chief will try to sort out the dispute and reprimand the party he/she believes to be guilty. If the aggrieved person demands compensation, then the case will be passed to the court of law at Likanleng. Now that conflicts and disputes are going through the courts there is more bribery, and some suspect that people sometimes deliberately start a conflict in order to sue (and so to gain financially).

Livestock theft is a growing problem since the road opened up access, and people have little faith in the will or capacity of the police to tackle it. Within their own communities, though, theft of any kind seems to be extremely rare. One narrator explains that the children have no inclination to steal because the land provides them with everything they need and they never go hungry. On the other hand, people are frightened about thieves in the more "crime-ridden" lowlands, and feel that they will be seen as easy targets because it will be widely known that they have received compensation money. They have heard that thieves in the areas where they are to be moved are already referring them to as "cheques".

Cultivation of cannabis is officially illegal but people justify their involvement by the need to survive, and point out that they are not hurting anyone or stealing. It is unlikely that villagers will be able to continue to produce and sell cannabis on the same scale in the lowlands: traders have said they will not buy from them because of the increased risk of being caught by the police. It seems the police are not really a problem in the highlands, although people have occasionally been arrested.

quotes about justice and crime

"Selling cannabis is illegal and I know that, but I have no choice. I have to feed my family and pay for my children's school fees. When I sell cannabis it is not like I am intruding or invading somebody's property. It is strictly business."
Makibinyane, M/40s, Lesotho 3

"...even if you were just to go and spend a month [away from home] without having locked, you will find this house still being as it was [when you left]; it is only the rat that will destroy your things..."
Tanki, M/72, Lesotho 27

"The theft of earlier was better, when a person stole, he stole one sheep to eat and you would see that that person feels like eating meat. These ones take your whole kraal."
Tsatsi, M/70s, Lesotho 15

"Yes, all problems it is the [responsibility of the]committee of the development council, and the men of the village; when we have sat down we shall make - the chief being there - we will make a decision; if this thing is to pass on to the court of the judges it should be able to pass when it has defeated us; if it has not defeated us we should decide it."
Tanki, M, Lesotho 27

"Oh, a person when maybe you have some difficulty that you quarrel with somebody, you have to meet with that somebody, and if you realise that you do not agree then you will go to the chief: "Hey, chief, it looks like we do not see eye to eye with so and so for such and such reasons. Now can you bring us together?" Now they will work together on this issue, and if it continues they will forward it to the chief in the higher rank. He will also bring them together to hear this issue."
Nathnael, M/61, Lesotho 19b

key testimonies featuring justice and crime

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   11   Mokete   male/64   farmer   Ha Ralifate  
Summary Transcript   14B   Mohlominyane   male/61   farmer/village headman   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   15   Tsatsi   male/70s   farmer   Maetsisa  
Summary Transcript   21   íMepa   male/50s   farmer/chief   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   22   Mamookho   female/30s   farmer/garment maker   Ha Koporale  
Summary Transcript   3   Makibinyane   male/40s   farmer   Molika-liko  
Summary Transcript   7   Tlali   male/elderly   farmer   Ha Tsapane  
Summary Transcript   9   íMalibuseng   female/32   farmer   Ha Tsapane