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How Mokhosi got bail



MASERU – THE investigation into Constable Mokalekale Khetheng’s disappearance had stalled for more than a year.
Answers had remained elusive despite consistent media coverage and legal pressure from his desperate family. At what point the constable had disappeared when he was arrested in Hlotse remained unclear.
At some point the police claimed that he had escaped from custody and they were looking for him.
The answer that broke the case came from a brave policewoman who had fallen out with her bosses after they allegedly tried to force her to make a false statement about the constable’s fate.
The police’s reaction was dramatic. Four senior police officers were quickly arrested and charged with his murder.
As the constable’s remains were being exhumed amid public outrage questions were asked as to who else in the echelons of the former government was involved.

It would not be long before the police called former Defence Minister Tšeliso Mokhosi for questioning and subsequently charged him with the constable’s murder.  Yet few could have expected what followed.
Despite facing a murder charge, Mokhosi’s bail application was not opposed.

Some people were aghast for rarely do murder suspects get bail without some opposition from the prosecution.
Some asked if the Director of Public Prosecutions, Leaba Thetsane, might have given Mokhosi an easy ride. The fallout was as spectacular as it was dramatic.

Lebohang Hlaele, Minister of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, is reported to have been furious. He later told a press conference that the government is unhappy with the DPP’s decision to let Mokhosi’s bail application go unchallenged.
In the public outcry that ensued Acting Police Commissioner Molibeli entered the fray.
He is reported as having said he was annoyed by the decision.

Acting Police Commissioner Molibeli is also said to have complained to ‘Mole Khumalo, the principal secretary of the Ministry of Law, Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights. Meanwhile, Thetsane dodged media interviews with the same excuse that he doesn’t talk to journalists. His trouble over Mokhosi’s bail had coincided with incessant pressure to push him out of office.
And so his side of the story over the debacle had remained unknown.

But that changed this week when the thepost discovered a memo that might amount to his response to the allegations that he unilaterally decided not to oppose Mokhosi’s bail. The memo sent to the Acting Attorney General on September 14 lays bare the bickering that happened in the few hours leading to the bail application.

The memo was also copied to Minister Hlaele, his principal secretary, the Minister of Police and Acting Police Commissioner Molibeli.
Thetsane begins by denying that he unilaterally decided not to oppose bail.
The decision, he says, was made after consultation with the police.

He says the police agreed with his assessment that they could not oppose bail because their case against Mokhosi was on ‘thin ground’.
The memo tells a story of the intense back-and-forth that happened as the DPP and the police debated how to handle Mokhosi’s bail application.
But before he gets into the pith of his explanation the DPP complains that the police have a habit of bringing him dockets a few hours before suspects are due to appear in court.

He says a few weeks before Mokhosi’s case he had warned the police about this “habit” which he says puts his office under pressure.
Thetsane claims the police however did the same thing with Mokhosi’s case.
He says on August 30, Superintendent Mokeke called him to announce that he wanted to remand Mokhosi for the murder of Khetheng.
By that time four police officers had already been charged and detained for Khetheng’s murder.

Mokhosi had been in detention since August 28 and the 48-hour deadline for his release was about to expire.
Thetsane says after pointing out that Superintendent Mokeke was still bringing cases on short notice despite his earlier warning he told him to defer the remand to August 31 and instructed him to immediately bring the docket to his office.
He however alleges that Superintendent Mokeke did not bring the docket immediately but instead sent it the next morning with a team of investigators.

The DPP claims that as he was discussing the docket with Crown Attorney Tlali, Principal Secretary Khumalo called to ask about his progress because the 48-hour detention period was about to expire.
He says although he found the inquiry astonishing he explained to Khumalo that he had just received the docket.
Thetsane says what followed was a debate on “whether or not there was a prima-facie case against” Mokhosi.

This, he says, was crucial because it is the main issue the court considers in bail cases.
Of particular interest to the DPP was the confession Mokhosi is alleged to have made.
He says in the alleged confession Mokhosi said: “Ke boleletsoe ke Commissioner Letsoepa hore motho eane eo mapolesa a ne a ilo motsoara, a ‘molaile, abile a mo lahletse nokeng…. Ka morao ho moo ke tsebile ha Khetheng a ne a epolloa Lepereng”. (I was told by Commissioner Letsoepa that the person the police were going to arrest, they had killed him and threw him in a river . . . After that I knew when Khetheng was going to be exhumed at Lepereng)
The DPP says the debate with Superintendent Mokeke was whether “the statement amounted to a confession or not”.
He says as they were debating, the deadline for Mokhosi’s release was getting closer. At around 4 PM on August 31 the DPP received Mokhosi’s bail application which also announced that the matter was to be heard at 12:30 PM on September 1 instead of 9:30 am as indicated earlier.
The postponement, the DPP claims, had been sought to enable the prosecution to hear the police’s attitude towards Mokhosi’s bail.
The DPP says he immediately tried to call Superintendent Mokeke but could not find him. He then called Deputy Commissioner of Police Hlaahla who also did not know where Superintendent Mokeke was but promised to relay the message to his supervisor, Assistant Commissioner of Police Maphatšoe.

“It was objectively clear that the DPP was at this juncture running helter-skelter; an attitude clearly demonstrating that he was mindful of the high profile nature of the matter under reference.”
The DPP says after a second call ACP Maphatšoe told him that Superintendent Mokeke had promised to instruct him to urgently see the DPP.
Superintendent Mokeke later rushed to the office but found Advocate Tšoeunyane of the DPP’s office already on his way to the bail hearing.

Superintendent Mokeke, Thetsane claims, said the police were opposing Mokhosi’s bail on the basis that the former minister was in danger of being killed by the people he had implicated in his statement.
He says he told the superintendent that if that was the reason for opposing the bail then the state had legal obligation to protect Mokhosi as it does with potential crown witnesses.

He says he then allowed the superintendent to read Mokhosi’s bail application.
In the application Mokhosi admitted to making the “confession” but said he did so under duress.
“Hence the DPP did point to Supt. Mokeke that the very confession relied upon by the crown as a basis for the existence of a prima-facie case is definitely going to be challenged at the trial stage.”
He says he then asked Superintendent Mokeke if, given the length of the time between Mokhosi’s surrender to the police and his appearance before the Magistrate, “it is probable (objectively) that assaults were being meted out to him with a view to extracting an inadmissible confession as he alleges.”
“It was pointed out to Supt. Mokeke that rather than have all these exposed at the very stage of bail, it would be prudent not to oppose bail and defer same to trial stage,” the DPP says.
He says he mentioned that so Superintendent Mokeke could realise that the “prosecution’s opposition to the bail is premised on very thin ground…”
The DPP says at that point he agreed with Superintendent Mokeke that “no matter what our opposition to bail will not stand the test of time or pass muster before a Court of Law”.
Thetsane says as they were debating with Superintendent Mokeke, Advocate Tšoeunyane, who was dealing with the bail, called seeking instructions on how to proceed.

Advocate Tšoeunyane was told that the bail application was not being opposed but Superintendent Mokeke wanted additional conditions.
The DPP also tries to downplay the significance of his decision not to oppose bail, saying the final discretion is with the court.
“Legally speaking it does not matter whether the prosecution opposes bail or not, a Court of Law is the final arbiter,” he says.
He ends the memo with a concern that the Acting Police Commissioner had complained to Principal Secretary Khumalo instead of talking to him directly.

He warns against discussing the issue in public. “As the adage goes it is undesirable to ‘wash one’s dirty linen in public’”.
After being granted bail Mokhosi fled to South Africa from where he later alleged that he was brutally tortured by the police.
The government has denied the allegation.

Staff Reporter

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The beauty queen of Lesotho



MASERU – WHILE many children her age were still adapting to the early years of school after kindergarten, Reatile Molefe was already plotting her life goals. Barely 10-years-old, Molefe already knew exactly what she wanted to do in life.

“I was already geared towards being a model at that early age. I was already portraying fancy and modest moves linked to modelling,” said the beauty queen, now aged 22.

It didn’t take time for her mother to identify the potential and found a need to sharpen it further.

“My journey in beauty pageantry started at the age of eight in 2009. The reason my mom thought I should hop into pageantry was because I was active and smart. I also had role models from the industry by then. I mean, I had an ambition of every little girl’s dream of being a star or being dressed in cute ball gowns so I also had a strong desire to be like that,” she said.

“I started my cat walking lessons at Little Miss Lesotho Companies but didn’t win. Not winning gave me motivation to work more towards my craft, it pushed me into wanting more as I couldn’t settle for less,” she said.

Molefe now boasts of 14 tittles to her name. She has donned the beauty pageant crowns in all stages of her life.

“I was crowned Queen in my two previous schools. I was Miss New Millennium High School in 2012 and Miss Lesotho High School in 2017. The 14th title I scooped made me believe in myself even more as I got to gain experience competing with people from different countries,” said Molefe, who has also made a bold statement by competing at the international level.

Molefe attributes her prowess to her high levels of confidence.

“Pageants create a bonding experience where women lift each other up, but what gives me an upper hand is being comfortable, secure with myself and being me throughout,” said Molefe, adding that her favourite category during pageantry competitions is when models are asked to strut the ramp in evening wear.

“That’s when the audience and the judges get to see the creativity, the poise and eloquence of the queens,” said Molefe, who believes that the audience’s response can destroy or build a contestant’s confidence.

“The audience can play either of the two roles during a contest. They may make a positive impact on females taking part because they teach them how to be resilient thus prepare them for real world situations. On the other hand, the audience may also make a negative impact and lead to a whole host of mental issues among participants who may be worried about their image and appearance. This can lead to harmful side-effects,” stated Molefe.

Like other women in the modelling industry, Molefe has come across some challenges.

“An example is trying to get enough support from the general public on my first international contest,” she said.

Another was the cost of competing in beauty pageants as well as evolving body changes, she said.

“Being a beauty queen is not a walk in the park, especially when being judged by the community. And, yes, pageants do help women grow in confidence but without proper mental health support, they can also create insecurities. But through all the struggles, I am thankful to my family and friends. They are my biggest supporters. I may have gone through it all but their unbending support has kept me going,” she said.

Molefe says she considers being crowned second runner up in the Miss Culture International competition held in Johannesburg in 2021 as her most outstanding achievement. She was also crowned Miss Culture Lesotho in 2018.

“What was intriguing to me about this contest was the fact that I was the youngest among the contestants. It proved to be a learning experience for me and it deepened my knowledge about what the modelling world really entails.

“I never doubted myself but I thought I wouldn’t make it as I was the youngest. I got to compete with people of different races, which got me even more motivated. I learned a lot in participating in a multi-racial event,” she said.

Pageantry isn’t just about looks, according to Molefe.

“There is to more to it, like being able to embrace glamour. Beauty is subjective and it can be interpreted in different ways according to the perception of individual viewers. I consider being beautiful as an inside and out perception but the golden rule is to brim with confidence to make it in pageantry,” said Molefe, urging parents to enroll their children in pageantry schools at an early age “even as early as three-years-old”.

“This gives them ample time to develop because the young ones are able to easily learn from others to improve their skills and boost their self-confidence,” said Molefe, who dreams of a day when a beauty queen is considered a legendary woman in Lesotho.

One of her goals is to assist in educating the youth, especially young women, about menstrual health and other sexual and reproductive health issues.

Her target group is mainly girls that live in rural areas and small towns.

“Pageants promote goal setting, encourage us to value personal achievement and community involvement,” she said.

Calvin Motekase

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The stock-theft menace



MASERU – IF you recently enjoyed a nice beef stew at a restaurant in Lesotho there is a high possibility that the slaughtered cow might have been stolen from a farm in South Africa.

If you are in South Africa, it is equally possible that the cow was stolen from a cattle post in Mokhotlong or any other mountainous region of Lesotho.

That is because cross-border stock-theft is on the increase between the two countries. In fact, it has become a thorn in the flesh for farmers on both sides of the border.

Since 1990, 85 percent of livestock owners on the border villages of Lesotho have lost animals to thieves as compared with 49 percentage from non-border villages, according to a study published by Wilfrid Laurier University.

Earlier this month, this problem came into sharp focus when four Basotho men were picked up by the police in Thaba-Nchu in the Free State.

These men, aged between 24-51 years old, were travelling in a car bearing Lesotho number plates. They were transporting cattle that did not have documents.

The SAPS informed their counterparts in Lesotho who rushed to the place to repatriate the suspects.

Maseru Urban Commanding Officer Senior Superintendent Rantoane Motsoela said their investigations uncovered that the cattle crossed into South Africa at Ha Tsolo through the Mohokare River.

Then they were transported from the border into South Africa.

S/Supt Motsoela said they have found that the cattle already had tattoo marks from one farmer in Ficksburg.

But the suspects had no documents to prove that the animals belonged to them.

Both the cattle and the car are still in the hands of the SAPS while investigations are continuing.

S/Supt Motsoela said the suspects are assisting the police with investigations.

In another incident police recovered five cattle of a Mosotho man in Qwa-Qwa, still in the Free State Province.

These cattle were reported stolen in Tšehlanyane in Leribe at the beginning of this month.

Police under their sting operation “Zero Tolerance to Stock Theft” launched their investigations that led to the discovery of the cattle.

The Leribe District police commanding officer Senior Superintendent Samuel Thamae said they were able to recover the animals with the help of the community who tipped them off.

S/Supt Thamae said they stormed Qwa-Qwa with their counterparts in South Africa to identify the stolen animals.

After convincing the SAPS that the cattle belonged to the concerned farmer, they were released to him.

The Mokhotlong District Administrator (DA) Serame Linake says they have been battling cross border stock theft for years.

He says Basotho in Lesotho would go to South Africa to steal the animals that they sell back to South Africa in Vanderbijlparkl after getting fraudulent documents.

Linake says these animals, cattle and sheep, are sold at an auction in Vanderbijlpark.

He says the South Africans on the other hand sometimes also cross the border into Lesotho to steal the animals.

To fight this theft, they have formed good relations with the SAPS, chiefs and councillors.

Linake says when animals are stolen from South Africa into Lesotho, their counterparts simply inform them on this side so that they could waylay them.

“Stolen animals are strictly sold in Vanderbijlpark in South Africa,” he says.

He says in his district animals are not sold in the butcheries like is the case in Maseru and other lowlands districts.

Linake says they are now struggling to control theft that takes place between the northern district and Qwa-Qwa because the perpetrators are Basotho who have now migrated to South Africa.

He says these perpetrators have lived in Lesotho and know all the corridors that they could use to come and steal animals in Lesotho and go back to South Africa.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli says stock-theft is a grave problem in the country.

He says they have formed a special team that is going to reinforce the team that is already dealing with stock-theft in the country.

When there is an alarm that some animals have been stolen, this new team is informed so that it can lend a helping hand.

S/Supt Mopeli says the theft happens within the country’s borders and between Lesotho and South Africa.

S/Supt Mopeli says they are managing to deal with the theft because they arrest the perpetrators and bring them before the courts of law.

He says the public should alert the police when they see animals being stolen so that they can be saved from the hands of thieves.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola says they have registered big successes in curbing cross-border theft especially after having a post in Mokota-Koti in Maputsoe.

He says they usually hold frequent patrols at the borders to fight this crime.

“We also hold frequent crossings with the South African army to share information regarding cross-border theft,” Lt Col Lekola says.

Lt Col Lekola says they sometimes use air patrols as another way to fight stock-theft.

He says they usually erect camps along the borders so that they can stop animals coming out of Lesotho or vice-versa.

“Last year we had a successful collaboration with South African soldiers where we patrolled the borders from Leribe to Mafeteng. The South African army was on their side and we were also on our side,” he says.

He says they were working together with the police and they reaped good results.

Lt Col Lekola says some herd boys report the theft of livestock long after first trying to track the animals themselves.

He says this gives the cattle rustlers a chance to hide.

He advised the farmers not to erect cattle posts near the borders because they are stolen easily.

“When the South Africans enter Lesotho borders to trace their stolen animals, they make the first encounter with the animals at the cattle posts and drive them away,” Lt Col Lekola says.

He appealled to farmers to work collaboratively with their herders to pay them their dues.

He says some farmers do not pay their herders and those herders usually bounce back to steal the animals in revenge.

“They enter the cattle posts easily because the dogs know them,” Lt Col Lekola says.

Because Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa, stock-theft takes place easily between the two countries especially in the provinces of Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The porous borders make it easy for the movement of animals to take place between the two countries.

And the theft between these countries has been happening since time immemorial.

The cross-border menace continues to take place despite patrols that are organised by the security agencies from both countries.

A Transnational History of Stock Theft on the Lesotho–South Africa Border, Nineteenth Century to 1994 Journal states that stock theft has long been a problem along the Lesotho–South Africa border.

It says from Moshoeshoe I’s cattle-raiding in the nineteenth century through to the start of the democratic era in Lesotho (1993) and South Africa (1994), the idea that stock theft is both prevalent and an international problem has been generally accepted by all.

According to Farmer’s Weekly livestock theft has a much more detrimental effect on the economy than previously thought, and is becoming more violent.

It says organised livestock theft feeds into other more serious types of transnational organised crimes such as drug, weapons and human trafficking.

And ultimately this results in the creation of illicit financial flows.

Challenges to safety included no fencing along large stretches, and the lack of a suitable roads to enable South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to conduct border patrols effectively, Farmer’s Weekly says.

In a piece published in November on the International Security Studies (ISS) website, ISS Today, stock theft was on the rise in South Africa, with 29 672 cases recorded by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the 2018/2019 financial year.

This represented an increase of 2.9 percent over the previous year.

The ISS said the problem is exacerbated by porous and poorly secured borders, lack of capacity to monitor the border, and mountainous terrain that is difficult to police.

“Such challenges create opportunities and trafficking routes for criminal networks to smuggle livestock, drugs and, at times, firearms across the border.”

The ISS said the transnational livestock theft affects farmers revenue and adds to consumer costs.

It says thousands of animals are stolen and sold through the black market.

And this hurts the economy and goes even further to impact consumers, as these animals could have provided meat.

Majara Molupe

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Matekane to launch microchip project



MAPUTSOE – PRIME Minister Sam Matekane will this Sunday launch a new microchip project designed to combat the rampant stock-theft in Lesotho.

The launch will be held in Peka in Leribe.

Speaking at a rally for his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) in Maputsoe last weekend, Matekane said the government is weary of the rampant stock-theft that impoverished rural farmers in Lesotho for decades.

“When your livestock leaves your kraals your phones will alert you and your families,” Matekane said amid loud cheers.

He asked the people to go to Peka in great numbers to witness the launch and learn from the livestock microchipping experts how the project will work to combat stock-theft in the villages.

The project was first spearheaded by Thomas Thabane when he was the Home Affairs Minister in 2003.

That year, 120 rams were implanted with the microchip identification system in Masianokeng.

The rams belonged to a company called Mahloenyeng Trading Company (Pty) Ltd.

The then police boss, Jonas Malewa, had microchipped 64 horses at the Police Training College (PTC) a year earlier in a pilot project.

The Home Affairs Ministry had contracted a company called Primate Identity Technology ran by a Jewish man, Yehuda Danziger, to carry out the pilot project.

Danziger was also tasked with observing any side-effects the animals could have after the implantation of the microchip.

The government introduced the microchip implantation technology after realising that stock thieves would easily erase the branding and tattoo marks with red hot metal and acid.

The stock thieves also cut off stolen animals’ ears if they bore the owner’s identification marks.

Microchips are tiny electronic devices, about the size of a grain of rice, which could be stored in a capsule and implanted near the animal’s tail to make it easy to identify and trace lost or stolen animals.

The project however never picked up with successive government not showing any political will to carry it through.

Things are now set to change with Matekane launching the project this Sunday.

Tšepang Mapola & Alice Samuel

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