Lonely death of cop who loved to run

2012-07-07 17:29

Pule Rasebakoa loved to run.

But on March 8 this year, 36-year-old Rasebakoa went running in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Last week, his body was found buried in a lonely stretch called “Lekgalong le fefifi” (the dark passage), which leads from Free State to Lesotho.

It’s an area that’s notoriously used by stock thieves – and it’s stock thieves who are allegedly responsible for beating Rasebakoa to death and dumping his body in a shallow grave.

Rasebakoa, an avid athlete, was aconstable stationed at the Gariepdam Police Station.

In early March, he had some time off and went home to QwaQwa in the eastern Free State to spend some time with his family – wife Maketso and their three children aged 13, 8 and 3.

He was wearing a blue T-shirt, green pants and blue shoes when he went jogging early on March 8.

When he did not return, Rasebakoa’s family reported him missing.

Lieutenant Colonel Thandi Mbambo, the spokesperson for the Free State police, said a search was conducted to no avail.

Then in May, the Hawks took over the investigation.

On June 29, Mbambo said, two men were arrested in connection with Rasebakoa’s disappearance.

One of the suspects told police Rasebakoa’s body was buried in Lekgalong le fefifi.

“After an extensive foot search in the thorny, dense and rock-filled area in the Drakensberg mountains separating Lesotho and South Africa, the police team finally came across the body of a male person who fitted the description,” Mbambo said.

Rasebakoa’s body was found in a shallow grave beneath a pile of rocks after a three-hour search.

His body was positively identified on Wednesday.

“It is alleged that Rasebakoa witnessed a stock theft deal involving cattle stolen from Lesotho. The suspects allegedly attacked him from behind by hitting him with a rock at the back of the head, after one of them identified him as a policeman”, said Mbambo.

Maketso Rasebakoa said her husband’s death had broken her heart.

“He was a good and reliable man and the father of my three kids,” she said.

Rasebakoa’s funeral is due to be held next weekend.

Teko Seboka (26) and Malefetsane Nhlapo (35) appeared in the Tseki Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday on charges of robbing and murdering Rasebakoa.

The case was postponed to July 9 for a bail application.

Rasebakoa’s murder again puts the spotlight on the dangerously porous border between Lesotho and South Africa.

When the national crime statistics were released last year, Free State was identified as a hotspot for stock theft.

Free State Agriculture, a provincial agricultural association, said farmers lost at least R73.5 million worth of livestock during the 2010/11 financial year.

Kobus Breytenbach, the chairperson of Free State Agriculture’s law and order committee, said the organisation had decided to take the national government back to court for contravening a settlement signed in June 2010.

The organisation first took government to court in 2008 because of a lack of security on the border.

A settlement agreement which was made an order of the court was then signed and committed government to beefing up security on the border.

Breytenbach said the same farmers were now “going back to court because the government is not keeping its end of the bargain”.

Free State police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sithole listed cross-border crime as among the top-10 contributors to the province’s crime rate.

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