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Pastor jailed for 50 years



MASERU – A Zimbabwean-born pastor has been sentenced to 50 years in jail after he was found guilty of two counts of human trafficking and two more of rape.
The Berea magistrate’s court sentenced Thukulula Smith, 51, to jail without an option of a fine.

The court heard that Smith had used his position as a pastor to gain the people’s trust. After gaining their trust, he told his congregants that he was going to secure jobs for their children in South Africa.

The court found that the unsuspecting parents released their children to him and he took them to South Africa where he had businesses in 2018.
In the meantime, the court found, he gave parents some gifts that included microwaves and food parcels since most of them were destitute.

Smith took two teenage girls to South Africa where he turned them into sex slaves, the court found.
He was last Friday sentenced to 20 years for each count of human trafficking and 10 years for rape.

The sentences are to run concomitantly.
The police have warned Basotho to be very cautious when they deal with people who promise them jobs in or outside the country.

Deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka, said the court were shown the gifts Smith gave to his victims’ families while they were still with him.
They included fridges, among others.

The investigating officer was Detective Tsunyane Mosito.
Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa said the conviction and sentence of the pastor is a milestone in the fight against human trafficking.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the sentence as deterrents for others who would like to tread on the same wrong path,” Letsosa said.

“This also gives testimony to all Basotho we often warn against human trafficking that indeed this crime does happen in this country,” he said.

Letsosa said even development partners and countries that have been watching Lesotho’s reaction to human trafficking “now have evidence that we seriously fight against this crime”.

“Even investors will have confidence in us,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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