Principal Chief suspended for 15 years

Principal Chief suspended for 15 years

MASERU – THE Principal Chief of Peka, Tsikoane and Kolbere, Chieftainess Pontšo Seoehla Mathealira has been slapped with a 15-year suspension.
She has also been stripped of her seat in the Senate for the same length of time. The Chieftainess is accused of violating sections of the Chieftainship Act in that between 2007 and 2012 she effectively stopped initiation school in areas under her jurisdiction.

The charge sheet says she refused to work with a cultural committee set up to deal with issues involving initiation schools, among others.
Local Government and Chieftainship Principal Secretary Advocate Tšeliso Mokoko says Chieftainess Mathealira was also accused by her subjects of expelling them from her court when they had come to seek services.

She is further accused of refusing to render services to her subjects because they did not greet her in a way she wanted. Mathealira is also accused of denying livestock farmers permits to take their animals to cattle post.

She allegedly fined some farmers who disobeyed her. One of the farmers demanded a refund of his money and when she refused he appealed to the Local Government and Chieftainship Ministry which instructed her to refund it.
Chieftainess Mathealira allegedly refused to refund him.

Repeated efforts to contact Chieftainess Mathealira for a comment failed last night.
The Local Government Ministry wrote the Senate advising it to remove Chieftainess Mathealira as a senator because she has been suspended as a chief.
“Your good office is humbly requested to remove her from Senate forthwith as she has been appointed by virtue of being Principal Chief,” the letter partly reads.

“In the meantime we are awaiting the family to forward a new holder of the office which will be communicated to you once the name has been forwarded to our office.”

When her removal was discussed in the Senate on Tuesday, the Principal Chief of Thaba-Bosiu, Chief Khoabane Theko, who is also chairman of the College of Chief, described the 15-year suspension as “outrageous”.

Chief Theko said for years chiefs have been pushing for amendments to the Chieftainship Act but the executive is not interested.
Chief Theko, who was also suspended from office during the military rule in 1989 because he stood with King Letsie III when he challenged the removal of his father the late King Moshoeshoe II, said Chieftainess Mathealira’s suspension was unjust.
“Fifteen years is quite a long time to suspend a person,” Chief Theko said.

He said he is not even trying to protect those who contravene the Chieftainship Act “but the punishment is just unbearable”.
“There is nowhere it is stipulated in the law that a chief could be slapped with 15-year suspension if found in contravention of some provisions of the Act.”
“This is a draconian law. Injury to one is injury to all.” Chief Theko said they had asked the former Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, Dr Pontšo Sekatle, to repeal some sections of the Act but “she did not take our recommendations”.

The new minister now is Habofanoe Lehana. Chief Theko appealed to the senators that they should take advantage of the reform process to ensure that their grievances are addressed. He said the chieftainship affairs should be included in the reform process.
Senator Lebohang Hlaele, who is also the Minister of Law, appealed to the chiefs to “make use of the reform process to ensure that their concerns are addressed”.

Majara Molupe

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