Famo gang violence leads to internal displacement

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By ‘Majirata Latela

Victims of some of the Famo music gangs’ killings have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in other places fearing for their lives due to ensuing fights among the Famo music groups.

While some victims have taken refuge to seek peace and stability internally others have fled to the neighbouring South Africa.

Mainly, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave her/his country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.

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The International Labour Organisation also shows that some refugees move internally.

The Famo groups, according to those close to the gangs in the ‘industry’ say the groups were formed with noble intentions of providing support to the Famo musicians. The idea, they say, was that the musicians would help each other in times of sickness and death.

The groups were meant for business purposes as well. But as competition for a shrinking Famo market heightened among the musicians, enmity developed between the groups.

Soon they were battling for almost everything from radio airplay, recording time and influence on the market. It turned nasty and these groups started fighting each other.

In the district of Mafeteng, it was found out that some victims of the Famo gangs which in most cases are women and children have started leaving their place of origin to leave in other villages or even other districts just so they could be away from the trauma and the threats they get from the gangs.

theReporter newspaper this week spoke to a local government councillor for Ramoetsane in Mafeteng, Hanyane Ramantša confirmed that indeed there are families which have left their villages of origin due to the mounting killings that occur to some family members. He said some families leave their dwellings after some were murdered in cold blood.

“One family whose name I can’t disclose has recently moved from Matelile to stay in Thabana- Morena because its three sons were killed in connection with the Famo gangs.

“When one of the three sons was first killed, the woman decided to pack some of the families’ belongings and left to stay at one of his son’s house in Thabana Morena.

“In December 2019 the family’s two other sons were also killed in connection to the gangs. Before their burial, their father also followed the wife and went on to join the only remaining son and the wife in Thabana-Morena,” he said.

He added: “The family has since revealed that they have left their place of origin because they felt they were no longer safe. They believe they are now safer and they are not intending to return to Matelile,” Hanyane disclosed.

He added that councillors working together with chiefs have pulled their strength to bring cessation to the fights but their pleas are falling on deaf ears as the conflicts continue to rattle the villages.

The ministry of home affairs this week called the district administrators to discuss how best they could domesticate the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa: Kampala Convention.

During the meeting, minister of home Affairs Motlalentoa Letsosa said they called on the meeting with the administrators to deliberate on measures aimed at preventing arbitrary displacement of populations as they “have found reports that due to the Famo killings people are now moving from their places of origin because they no longer feel safe.”

Letsosa warned that in that district, the government with the help of the security sectors and non- governmental organisations and church leaders put their heads together to resolve the disputes and entice peace among the Famo musicians.

“My ministry is out here trying to find a way in which we can work together to fight these gangs because they do not seem to be ending, but are increasingly affecting other neighbouring countries as they are now killing each other in South African illegal mines,

“We are here because we want to work with you DA’s, principal chiefs, local chiefs and other sectors to find ways on how we can come up with the solution after we have studied the core problems of the gangs. We also want to assist them in finding a lasting peace among themselves.

 “We will be going to the villages to meet with you and all people who are involved in these killings to have the voices of the victims.

The Principal Chief of Quthing, Seeiso Nkuebe, said the ministry should initially address several challenges which lead to the formation of the groups such as poverty. The instances, he added, gangs which include poverty. He said the killings spiked when illegal mining practices also surged in South Africa.