…As mogul calls him a ‘front’

…As mogul calls him a ‘front’

MASERU – CHINESE businessman, Stone Shi, is just a front in Maseru Dawning (Pty) Ltd, according to a local transport mogul who told a special parliamentary committee he was bribed to keep the information a secret.
Mogul Tšolo Kou was appearing before the parliamentary ad hoc committee probing corporate misconduct in the wool and mohair industry on Monday.
Shi is the director of Maseru Dawning, a brokerage through which the government has created a wool and mohair sale monopoly.
Kou told the committee that he met the real owner he named only as Kennedy who allegedly bribed him so that he would not spill the beans.
Kou, a wool farmer who also offers transport services in the wool and mohair industry, claimed Kennedy invited him to a local hotel to pay him after he threatened that he would make the company’s secret public.

“For me to be paid I had to tell the owners of Thaba-Bosiu Wool Center that I would expose them if they did not pay my money,” Kou told the committee.
“Soon after that I got a call from Kenny and I was given a cheque at Avani hotel in Maseru by the same Kenny,” he said.
Kou told the committee that the wool center management would try to befriend anyone who threatened to expose them.
Kou Transport, his company, was transporting wool from Mokhotlong shearing stud to Maseru and to South Africa even before the government created the brokerage monopoly.
He said business was no longer good for him and other transporters after farmers were forced by law to sell their wool and mohair products only through the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre
Their businesses, he said, “are dead and we have also retrenched some of our workers because we are now paid less money”.

“I had employed three people who were helping me with the loading of the wool but was forced was to retrench some of them because I was unable to pay them,” Kou said.
And it was more challenging to transport wool outside the country than in the country.
He said Shi promised them only M16 000 to transport wool to Durban.
Kou said he rejected the deal because it was not viable.

He said there are more toll gates when travelling to Durban than to Port Elizabeth (PE). The road to Durban is also bad, he added.
“So, I decided that I will not take that because I will gain nothing,” Kou said.
He said when he realised that his payment for the wool he took to the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre and for transporting for other farmers was not forthcoming, he confronted Kennedy and threatened to expose him. He said he was paid to silence him.
Kou said it is the view of transport operators that the controversial Agricultural Marketing Regulations of 2018 that give Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre its monopoly should be repealed.
Other haulage companies transporting wool and mohair from different places in the country to Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre also appeared before the committee.
Transport operators, Motsie Makhasane from Samara Transport in Qacha’s Nek and Motlatsi Nkalai from Nkalai Transport from Botha-Bothe told the committee that the new regulations had killed their businesses.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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