LERIBE (TNS) – Mokhethi Makalo is one of the many civilians who have lost their lives to gambling, which has distressed the Maputsoe community over a long period.
He died early this month from stab wounds inflicted in the chest by a fellow gambler following an argument over the setup of the often lethal game.
According to a police report, the culprit allegedly attacked the late Makalo after putting up his cellphone as a wager. The suspect had pawned his phone in a batter arrangement that turned sour.
Yet, the circumstances in which Makalo died do not come as a surprise to the community, but as merely an addition to the prevailing statistics.
Gambling, has gained infamy for its violence, is reported to have claimed the lives of countless people within and in the outskirts of the town.
Streets that lead in and out of the small town are usually occupied by groups of young men who would rather spend a day playing dice instead of scrounging for hard-to-come-by decent jobs. For them, betting dice is a speedy way to survival.
According to Matlaasele Molapo, the area Chief of Ha Barete, a village adjacent to the town, gambling unfortunately is treated as a petty crime by the police.
“I occasionally advice my people to report to the police every time gamblers are spotted in the area, but that has not resulted in a permanent solution because the police just disperse the gamblers,” he said.
Molapo was responding to public concerns over escalating stabbings and deaths that have become a norm in the area during a recent public gathering.
“In this village the case is even worse because gamblers play the dice after working hours when it’s dark. They do so to avoid being seen and attracting police attention. We believe these gamblers who are native in this village are also responsible for other crimes often committed at night which include rape and murdering women,” Leoka Pheko one of the villagers complained.
But, a police officer explained that there was no law in place specifying street gambling as an indictable offence liable for conviction in the courts of law.
“Although we work hard to curb this practice, there is no law in place that we can use to charge gamblers. What we pursue is to stop criminal activities that are tied to the game before they occur,” explained Constable Peter Mohlakoane.
Gamblers interviewed describe their practice as profitable, but also risky.
“It’s quick money. The money I can make in a day can be equivalent or more than what a factory worker earns in a week. Winning depends on luck. When gambling, one has to be alert of attacks that can erupt any given moment. Everything is a risk in life,” said one young adult who refused to be named for fear he would expose his means of making money to his unsuspecting wife.