Lichocha president faces expulsion

Lichocha president faces expulsion

Maseru – Lichocha Shooting Rifles president and coach Bokang Sehlabaka is facing expulsion from the club.
The club’s executives and players have written separate letters to the Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) asking the governing body to intervene.
The first letter sent by the team earlier this month pleaded with the association to help fix the financial mess they say has been caused by the reigning National Basketball League (NBL) coach of the season within the club.

The team is accusing Sehlabaka of embezzling the club’s funds for his own personal use; this includes airtime the team won at the Sprite Summer Slam Charity Tournament last December.

The club alleges that reports regarding monies were not filed to other executive members at the time as Sehlabaka was the club’s primary contact.
“The Lichocha Shooting Rifles would like to ask for your assistance in helping us fix the situation within the club,” Lichocha’s letter to the LBA says.
“It has come to (our) attention that the club’s president (Bokang Sehlabaka) has misused the club’s monies, both received (airtime won at the Summer Slam Tournament 2016) and collected (from Lichocha Development Team) for his own personal use,” the letter reads.

“Seeing that he was the club’s primary contact person at the time, no communication and reports were made to the other executive committee members upon receiving such monies,” the letter continues. The team also requested Sehlabaka step down as the club’s president and begged LBA to help them recover all their monies from the accused.
“For this matter we also wish to request that he steps down as the president of the Basketball club, LSR,” the letter says.

“We plead with your good office to help us recover all the monies taken and misused by Mr Sehlabaka,” it continues.
Upon receiving the team’s letter, the LBA summoned the club’s executive to a meeting to advise them on how to deal with the matter. It is after this meeting on February 14 that Lichocha’s vice-president Liteboho Sefali-Khuele sent Sehlabaka a personal email asking him to pay back the money within three days.
“This letter serves as an official notification to take action regarding the club’s monies you took and used for your own benefit. It has been a long time now since we last heard any progress from you of repaying the money,” the email read.

“We give you 3 days (up until February 17th at 17:00) to have paid all the monies you owe the club; this includes amongst others the airtime money and B-League registration money. Please note that by failing to do so, we will be forced to escalate the matter further,” Sefali-Khuele’s correspondence continued.
Lichocha’s executive says three days passed without hearing anything from Sehlabaka and that’s when they held a meeting at Lehakoe Recreational Centre on February 17. At the meeting the committee reached a conclusion to remove Sehlabaka from his position and temporarily replace him with Sefali-Khuele who had been serving as the club’s vice president.
“We, the executive members of Lichocha Shooting Rifles Basketball Club (LSR), at a meeting we held on Friday 17 February 2017 resolved that the LSR president Mr. Bokang Sehlabaka be removed from club presidency and that Mrs. Liteboho Sefali-Khuele, as the club’s vice president, will temporarily fill in his position,” the Lichocha executive said in its letter to the LBA.
When contacted for comment, Sehlabaka said he has nothing to say as he is yet to receive an official letter removing him as the president of the club. He said as far as he is concerned he remains Lichocha’s president.

“I can’t comment now because I have not received any official letter,” Sehlabaka told thepost. “As far as I am concerned I am still the president. I have not even seen the letter; I have only heard people talk about this.”

LBA secretary general Palo Mohlotsane confirmed the association has received a letter notifying them Sehlabaka is no longer Lichocha’s president.
He continued that after receiving the first correspondence from the team, the association called the club’s executive to a meeting.

“Because this is an internal matter (and) it is their own internal issue, after receiving the first mail we called the executive to a meeting and what we did was to advise them based on the club’s constitution on how to deal with the situation and follow procedure based on their constitution,” Mohlotsane told thepost.
Allegedly, this is not an isolated case where Sehlabaka has been caught with his fingers illegally in the honey pot.

According to a source within Lichocha who spoke on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisal, the LBA’s most decorated basketball coach previously helped himself to roughly M7 000 that was meant to run a high school league in Roma.

The source said the LBA decided to put Sehlabaka aside until he repaid the money, however, he continued to practice as a coach and won several awards.
“This is not the first time Bokang is caught stealing money. I don’t remember well but a few years back he stole LBA money that was meant to run the high school basketball league in Roma. It was M7 000,” said the source.

“At the AGM the LBA decided to put him aside until he had paid all the money and that he will come back under the AGM terms. Even now as we speak he has still has not paid even a cent of that money but he continued to operate in basketball even after that decision which means for the last three to four years Bokang has been illegal.”
“Besides that when (Sehlabaka) was an office assistant in the LBA office he stole money. But, it was decided he would not be expelled but the money would be deducted from his salary. I think he paid for one or two months,” the source said.

Regarding the added claims against Sehlabaka, LBA general secretary Mohlotsane refused to comment but he admitted there have been such scandals in the past.
Lichocha are currently second in the men’s NBL standings while the women’s team, who are the reigning national champions, are first.
Both sides have qualified for the NBL playoffs which are due to start later this month.

Luciah Phahla

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