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When teaching is a calling

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HLOTSE – GROWING up under the inspiration of her Principal at Leribe English Medium School (LEMS), Beata Matasane knew she only had one profession to follow: Education.

“I just loved how she dressed, walked, managed the school and conducted herself. I knew as a kid what career path I wanted to take because of her,” said Matasane, referring to ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, the principal.

Matasane, who grew up in Mankoaneng, said her love to drive positive change and help people also fuelled her love for education.

“I believe education, formal or informal, is vital to everyone and we all need to access it,” said Matasane, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education holder from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Matasane specialised in Sesotho and Development Studies before pursuing an Honours Degree in Educational Management, Leadership and Policy Studies at the same institution.

She further obtained an Honours Degree in South African Sign Language and Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS) where she passed with a distinction.

Matasane also holds a certificate in Lesotho Sign Language and SA sign language and obtained a distinction in both of them. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in South African Sign Language at the UFS.

She was one of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) 2022 fellows and one of the MWF Professional Development Experience Alumni who will be attached virtually at one of the “biggest” institutions in the United States of America.

Apart from being an interpreter, Matasane is a part-time lecturer at the NUL, a businesswoman, a sign language translation and interpreting consultant and Early Childhood Care Development (ECCD) inclusive education officer at the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled Lesotho (LNFOD).

Since 2015, her focus has been to improve access to quality education for deaf students.

“It is a very long journey but I believe that there is hope for tomorrow,” she said.

Her biggest achievement, she said, was being chosen out of about 200 applicant for the Mandela Washington Fellowship to represent Lesotho in the United States.

“Also, being one of the people who assisted in producing the very first deaf student to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in 2022 is one of my huge accomplishments as an interpreter,” said Matasane, who grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table.

“At times, we delayed paying school fees and got expelled with my siblings but we still went back regardless and pretended that nothing had happened. I am super grateful for all those who helped me overcome the challenges that included bullying at school. Had it not been of them, I think I would not have made it this far. I had to grow a thick skin,” she said, adding: “I come from a very hardworking and supportive family. My dad, mother and sisters played an important role and I am here because of their continuous support. It was very easy for me to accomplish my dreams because every time I feel like I am tired and want to quit I have them by my side to encourage me to do more and better.”’

She describes her parents as her “best friends as we communicate almost everything”.

“If I have a beautiful idea or project that I am interested in, I know they will help me make it better. Their hard work and support has turned me into a very hard working woman, someone who is very confident, caring and loving. I have learned that I cannot achieve anything in life unless I work very hard to achieve it.”

Matasane is concerned about the prevailing situation relating to education of people with disabilities due to stigma and other “numerous” challenges they continue to encounter.

“No specific person is to be blamed. We are all responsible for the unsuccessful implementation of the 2018 Inclusive Education Policy,” she said, noting that the policy “only exists on paper.”

“How practical is it? How come there are still a lot of dropouts of students and learners with disabilities?” she queried.

“As society, we are the ones causing people with disability to feel excluded because we fail to meet their needs,” she said, citing that to date, there are no sign language interpreters in centres that offer basic services such as clinics.

“We are causing hearing disability by not engaging professional sign language interpreters in those areas.

“If we do engage them then we will not have any form of disability as the social model of disability concurs with the above statement that disability is caused by barriers in our different communities like access to certain services.

“There is a dire need for sensitisation and it should start within our families such that as parents we should refrain from using words like ‘likooa kapa batho ba phelang le bokooa’ as that is very discriminatory. Rather we should say ‘batho ba nang le bokooa’.”

Matasane added: “We have to teach our children that there is nothing wrong with having a child with disability or playing with them. That way as they play together in schools, it will not be a foreign thing when they see any kind of disability as that becomes normalised.

“We need to engage the organisations of PWDs in all the policy discussions and plans so that they have a say because they are usually left behind. We also need to have strong and strict laws that support and protect people with disabilities.”

She said Lesotho is a member state of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Article 24 of the Convention states that “all member states need to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education and shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”

“However, this does not happen in Lesotho,” she said.

She said Lesotho also has a free primary policy but “to date there are children that do not go to school due to various reasons and no one is held accountable such that we see early child marriages and child labour challenges”.

Matasane said she shifted from education to being a sign language interpreter because of her love to effect positive change. “I take pride in being part of the people that bring happiness to segregated groups.”

She said she has observed with agony the “very low” school enrolments of deaf people.

“Then I asked myself how I can assist and that is when I decided to be a sign language interpreter. Also I am someone who is very curious to learn about exclusion.

“I am super happy with my choice as I see light at the end of the tunnel and I am glad to be part of the people bringing that light,” said Matasane.

For the past seven years she has been practicing as an interpreter, Matasane describes one of her biggest challenges as “being challenged in different ways by some of the people I serve as there are so many untold stories that I face as I interpret”.

“Despite it all, I soldier on because I love what I do and have a vision for the deaf in Lesotho,” she said.

“I am already working with different organisations and individuals to increase public awareness either through the interpreting I do on my Youtube channel, on LNBS, NUL or any platforms. Sign language is heading to a more inclusive side where we will see different sectors having interpreters to accommodate the deaf.”

Matasane said currently people living with disability face common challenges. These include access to information, access to buildings, dealing with unqualified support staff, a non-flexible curriculum, lack of relevant assistive devices and attitudinal barriers.

“I feel like education is everyone’s responsibility for the betterment of our citizens. As such, political will has to be there to fully support the inclusive education policy by resources, finances, reviewing the existing policy and engaging organisations of people living with disabilities,” said Matasane.

“The best way to solve these issues is to fully engage organisations that represent people with disabilities, their families and the community at large in any decision making as well as the need to fully practice what is in the policy,” said Matasane.

’Mapule Motsopa

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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