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LDF raps social media

  • LDF Spokesperson
  • Says copter accident pics distasteful

MASERU- Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has criticized individuals responsible for circulating horrific pictures of the aftermath of an army helicopter crash that went viral on Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter last week.

The LDF says the shocking pictures of the accident, which occurred in the general area of Thaba-Putsoa on Thursday afternoon and killed two people and injured another, was being circulated by people who are “insensitive” to other people in society as well as families of the deceased and injured. The army also says the pictures have put the LDF in bad light and is calling for people to be sensitive to other people’s feelings whenever they use social media.

LDF Public Relations Officer, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi he said the army was pleased with some people who turned to be good Samaritans after the accident as they went to the scene of the crash to people who were trapped in the accident and to retrieve bodies of the deceased.

Brig Ntoi, however, criticized some of the people who went to the scene only to take horrific pictures and placed them on social media at the spot even before the family members were informed. He said the act was only attempts to tarnish the good that some volunteers did while helping those people.

He said the LDF believes that pictures of the accident victims should have not been placed on Facebook or Whatsapp and be seen by close relatives, children and some people who would one day want to join the LDF. He says the LDF would like people who look up to the army as a professional organisation  and anyone who saw the nauseating pictures of the deceased and the injured at the scene of the crash  would have different ideas about them.

Brig Ntoi said by circulating the pictures on social media the image of the LDF was tarnished as some people may no longer want to be in the profession. .

He said the LDF deeply regrets the incident that occurred and would like to apologise to the people who were shocked by those horrific pictures. He said people should know where and when to use social media and in this case it was not appropriately used.

A statement released by the LDF Public Relations Office says the initial reports of the accident indicate that aboard the helicopter were a pilot and three other passengers who were on their way from Qacha’s Nek to Maseru. The helicopter had been assigned to deliver old age pensioners’ allowances in the highlands.

The statement also says that two LDF members lost their lives at the site of the crash while one LDF member and an officer from the Ministry of Finance were rushed to Makoanyane Military Hospital for treatment and they are currently in stable condition.

Brig Ntoi also said that it is high time that Lesotho looks into regulating the usage of social media so that Lesotho, just like other countries should, at least, have a binding law that prohibits people to expose any information or pictures without approval on social media.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Communications, Science and Tech­nology, together with other stakeholders called for the enactment of a bill that regulates social media as it was seen as a threat to the country’s cyber security.

At a workshop to discuss issues pertaining to the use of social media Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Science and Tech­nology, Tšeliso Khomari, stated that the fact that social media in Lesotho is unregulated provides a big challenge to the government because of the degree of political instability and a lot of may­hem by what it is able to produce. Khomari also said issues per­taining to cyber security go as far as the ability to create a safe environment conducive to sound and safe local and international investment climate with­in the economy of Lesotho.

At the workshop, Vodacom Executive Head of De­partment Corporate Affairs, Tšepo Ntaopane, Ntaopane mentioned that govern­ment had withdrawn the Cyber Crime Bill before enacting it in order to en­gage a wider spectrum of other players on the issue. He said also that social media needs to be regulated in order for all to know the role that they play and get users educated on the right use of the platform to stop its misuse.

In South Africa it is a criminal offence to circulate information or images that may cause public uproar as social media in that country is regulated under the laws of that country.

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