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Terene distances itself from SA, local crimes

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… as SAPS nabs 68 more illegal miners 

Mohalenyane Phakela

FAMO Terene gang leader, Sarele Sello, has distanced members of his unit from the escalating crimes in South Africa and Lesotho.

Lehlanya,  affectionately known as the crazy one, spoke for his members at an  All Basotho Convention (ABC) rally in Teyateyaneng this week.

He said the Terene gang knew nothing about the growing crimes in South Africa and Lesotho being attributed to hardened criminals from both countries.

Mr Sello’s remarks came after the South African Police Service (SAPS) arrested 68 illegal miners and undocumented persons in Gauteng  between Saturday and Monday.

This followed last week’s arrest of 110 illegal miners and another 84 who were nabbed a fortnight ago.

The arrests are a result of the South African government’s operations aimed at containing illegal mining activities and other crimes in the neighbouring country.

While it is not yet clear if there are any Basotho who have been arrested in the latest blitz on Saturday and Monday, they have nonetheless been fingered alongside Mozambicans and Zimbabweans in the escalation of various crimes including illegal mining, murders, rape and other violent crimes in Gauteng and other parts of South Africa in recent weeks.

Popularly known as Zama Zamas, the illegal miners are seen as key drivers of violent crimes and lawlessness in their turf areas.

In a recent interview with this publication, Gauteng police spokesperson, Brigadier Brenda Muridili, said some of the illegal miners were clad in the traditional blankets associated with Basotho, hence the widespread suspicion that Lesotho nationals were involved in the commission of the heinous crimes.

Brigadier Muridili however, said they would only be able to confirm their identities after engaging South Africa’s Home Affairs Ministry.

The SAPS this week issued two statements on the arrests of 68 more illegal miners in separate incidents in  Gauteng.

The first group of 53 was arrested on Saturday and Sunday in Kagiso, West Rand.

And on Monday, 15 more were arrested in Roodepoort.

Meanwhile, Lehlanya on Sunday distanced his Terene group from these crimes, insisting that they were not criminals.

“We have our Terene people who have shown commitment to the ABC. I am not a criminal and I swear on the Batloung (clan) who bore me that we will not allow that there be criminal activities here in Lesotho and in South Africa where we reside.

“We are not part of those criminal activities which some politicians want to associate us with. If we were part, I Lehlanya, volunteer that I be arrested if found I have a hand in criminal activities. I will run or hide.

“If you ever hear that we interfere with things that do not concern us, do not allow us to be part of ABC. Let people be punished for their crimes and not things they did not commit,” he said.

The Terene members are staunch supporters of the ruling ABC hence the address at the Sunday rally.

They spoke after it had been alleged via different South African media platforms that the infamous Famo gangs were behind the heinous crimes being perpetrated in South Africa.

ABC leader Nkaku Kabi recently said his party was committed to its alliance with the Terene faction of the Famo music gangs despite that they and their rivals have been implicated in rampant killings and other violent crimes in Lesotho and South Africa.

Even Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, a member of Mr Kabi’s ABC, is on record saying Famo gangsters have been classified by the government as “internal terrorists”.

However, this has not stopped various political parties from forging alliances with the rival gangs despite their fearsome reputations. The parties often turn to them to help woo voters particularly during election campaigns.

Mr Sello chose to stick with the ABC when his former boss, the late Mosotho Chakela, defected to the Democratic Congress (DC) in 2020. He is now the second-in-charge of the ABC-aligned faction which is now led by one Mokata Lirope.