“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
This poignant quotation is often erroneously attributed to Edmund Burke.
Burke never said it. It was probably inspired by John Stuart Mill who in 1867 said: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
The issue here is however not about who said those words but their wisdom. There is no doubt that much of the evil committed in this world would not happen if good people stood firm and fought harder against it.
‘Good men’ (good people) are thus equally culpable for evil if they remain silent and do nothing.
This is why I find it infuriating that Basotho are not speaking out against the injustice meted on Senior Superintendent Lebohang Setsomi.
The man has been fighting for his job since he returned from exile two years ago.
This is despite the fact that other soldiers and police officers who returned from exile are back on their jobs.
A little bit of history is important to put this issue into perspective.
Senior Superintendent Setsomi left the country in July 2017, after receiving death threats from the LMPS. Earlier, the police had called the then Deputy LMPS Spokesperson, Lerato Motseki, for questioning.
She was then interrogated, stripped naked and tortured by her colleagues. Her alleged crime, she later mentioned as she narrated her ordeal, was that she had leaked the RCI number of the murder case of the former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, Lipolelo Thabane. It is alleged that Senior Superintendent Setsomi’s name came up during that interrogation and he was told the police were looking for him. Because there was a likelihood that he might also be tortured or murdered, he immediately fled the country. Some might say he should not have fled if he had nothing to hide.
Yet history tells us that our police are capable of torture and murder.
Senior Superintendent Setsomi knew of this dubious and gory reputation as a senior police officer. He was therefore justified to flee.
It should however be mentioned that a RCI number has never and will never be treated as confidential information. The first person to receive a RCI number is the person who has filed a report with the police. It was thus strange that Motseki was tortured for revealing what is essentially public information
There was no need to arrest and torture her.
Indeed, it was unlawful, unwarranted and malicious on the part of the LMPS.
Senior Superintendent Setsomi was told that the police were looking for him in connection with Motseki’s arrest and he ran for his life.
In 2017 the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s mediator in Lesotho’s political turmoil, retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, started facilitating the reform process.
Around October 2017, a delegation of Cabinet Ministers led by Chief Thesele Maseribane had a meeting with Senior Superintendent Setsomi in Pretoria where the issue of his return was discussed.
That meeting, was followed by another around 2019. The government was represented by the then two ministers, Tefo Mapesela and Leshoboro Mohlajoa.
Soon thereafter, another delegation which comprised the then ministers Samonyane Ntsekele and Mokhele Moletsane was dispatched to meet him and other people who were in exile.
Ramahetlane Bereng, the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) officer who was in exile with Senior Superintendent Setsomi, was present in all those meetings.
On September 24, 2019, the government issued a statement announcing that Bereng, Senior Superintendent Setsomi and others would come back home.
Their return was facilitated by Honourable Motlohi Maliehe who was acting Minister of Police. Upon their return, Bereng rightfully resumed duties at LCS.
Senior Superintendent Setsomi expected the same treatment within the LMPS but that never happened.
In March 2020 Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli told him he would write a letter to facilitate his return to work. But until today Compol Molibeli has not written that letter and Senior Superintendent Setsomi is yet to return to work.
He has exhausted all available remedies at his disposal.
He has consulted, pleaded, begged, cried and knelt before the previous Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Police to no avail.
To put this into context, it is important to juxtapose his treatment with that of soldiers who also fled the country and returned after the intervention of SADC.
Colonel Matela Matobakele, Lieutenant Colonel Lekhooa Matlali, Captain Lehloa Ramotšo, Corporal Mofomobe, Corporal Lefoka, Second Lieutenant Mokhothu, Second Lieutenant Ranthimo, Private Mosaku, Private Lepota and Private Motsieloa. Do those names ring a bell?
These are the soldiers who fled to South Africa during political turbulence between August 2014 and June 2015. They joined Thomas Thabane who was already in exile.
Thabane returned home and supported a motion of no confidence on the government of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Mosisili pre-empted the motion by calling an early election which Thabane won and immediately facilitated the return of soldiers and police officers from exile.
All the soldiers and police officers re-joined the army and the police.
The discrimination against Senior Superintendent Setsomi is so obvious that it does not need to be explained. The fact that he has not been allowed to re-join police clearly shows that he is being unfairly treated.
The bosses haven’t told him or the public why he is not being allowed to resume duty like others.
It is gulling that the government has not intervened to deal with this blatant injustice.
What is Senior Superintendent Setsomi’s crime? What laws of the country or police regulations has he violated?
We need a coordinated approach on youth challenges
For a number of good reasons, all of us are concerned about problems that face Lesotho’s young people, particularly youth unemployment, and the increasing tendency towards anti-social behaviour among sections of Lesotho youth including their increasing admiration for criminality.
Not only do members of such groups admire criminality and actually commit crimes but they commit crimes without much care as to the harm and other costs that their actions inflict on immediate victims and on society-at-large.
Evidence of public concern about these problems includes the fact that within society individuals, groups and public and private institutions have all expressed concerns over problems facing the youth, with some of these parties making attempts to come up with ideas and measures to assist.
However, a number of problems seem to be emerging on, at least, three fronts. Firstly, a seeming lack of coordination in addressing problems that face young people. Secondly, lack of clarity on questions of whether (a) parties that seek to assist are basing their interventions on credibly identified sources of problems that face young people; and (b) whether any credible assessments are made to ensure that interventions such parties are proposing and implementing have potential to solve problems that face Lesotho’s young people.
There are many examples of what may seem to us, members of the general public, to be lack of coordination in approaches to solve problems facing young people. One such example may be sufficient. On January 8, 2024, Lesotho TV broadcast a statement in which the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) authorities announced establishment of some army facility where Basotho young people would be taught some values, including patriotism.
The very next day, on January 9, 2024, Lesotho TV broadcast another statement, this time by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) authorities, announcing the LMPS’s plan to establish a police facility at which young people would be taught anti-crime and other values. In their essence, the LMPS’s plan sounded not totally dissimilar to LDF’s.
Apart from the LDF and LMPS’s plans for Lesotho’s youth, there are also public and private sector initiatives to nurture and support entrepreneurial talents of Lesotho’s youth with a view, among others, to fight youth unemployment and develop the country’s private sector.
Politicians have also been seen to sponsor football games for young people in their constituencies with a view, they say, to keep young people from crime and narcotics. These events cannot be criticised too much but given that they are one, or two-day events that take place during specific times, they look more like publicity stunts.
National sports federations are now complaining that politicians who sponsor these events put too much stress on sports as a means to fight crime. What federations want is that, if politicians want to help, they should stress the importance of sports as careers, and sponsor young people to develop their sporting talents accordingly.
Amidst expressions of concerns and various parties’ attempts to address problems facing Lesotho youth, public authorities that we have not heard from, or from who we do not hear enough, are those charged with responsibilities over precisely problems facing young people; that is, authorities at the Ministry of Youth.
Admittedly, we do not know if the initiatives of the LDF, LMPS, and others are carried out in consultation with or with the blessing of the Ministry of Youth.
The worry ought to be not only whether interventions of the LDF, LMPS, and others have the blessings of the Ministry of Youth. Instead, the worry should extend to the question of whether the Ministry has any national plan to address problems facing young people. And, if such a plan exists, we would expect that it identifies the LDF and LMPS as places where young place can be coached; and initiatives of these and other institutions would align with such a plan.
Without an identification of the army and the police as implementing agencies of the Ministry’s plan, and without the army and police’s initiatives alignment with the Ministry’s plan, at least two things are likely to result: duplication of effort — as seems to be the case with the LDF and LPMS plans; or, at worst, LDF and LMPS plans might contradict and undermine national plans entrusted to the Ministry of Youth.
In the worst case scenario that a national plan does not exist, we face the danger that anybody wishing to address problems facing Lesotho’s young people can do so, basing herself, or himself on a personal or group perception, and implementing plans and solutions based on such perception.
As in the case of too many people stirring the same cooking pot without coordination, undesirable consequences can be expected from a situation where just about anybody can apply a solution to a public problem.
As hinted above, a good national plan aimed at addressing problems that face Lesotho’s young people would have two characteristics, at least. First, it would be based on our assertion of the kind of society we want to be; an investigation of problems that stand in the way of achieving such a society; how such problems can be overcome, say, through school curricula; and how, in general, from Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD), young people can be brought up and socialised in ways that ensure they will be useful members of a society we wish to be.
Any action that is not based on an investigation of the problems that stand in the way of achieving a society we want to be has little chances of success. Such action would be based on some understanding that the young who are anti-social, unpatriotic and criminals are naturally bad people.
It is, of course, not as simple as that. For example, one possible explanation for the absence of patriotism among young people may have something to do with socio-economic inequality in Lesotho: those who are closed out of, and excluded from, benefiting from Lesotho’s wealth and power cannot be expected to be patriots.
A second characteristic of a plan aimed at addressing problems that face Lesotho’s young people is that, such a plan should identify and/or establish institutions designed — and with appropriate skills — to implement ideas and proposals that come out of credible investigations.
It is unclear whether the LDF and LMPS plans have resulted from something like considerations suggested above. While it is admitted that these institutions’ initiatives are limited to addressing problems of lack of patriotism and criminality among the young people, one clear problem with their plans and solutions is that, it might be the case that they are catching young people a little late, when schooling and general socialisation have already entrenched anti-social values that we see among sections of young people; namely, individualism and the inability to think of others.
In one word, these institutions catch these young people when tendencies towards criminality, anti-social behaviour, and lack of patriotism might have already hardened.
Perhaps the biggest hope we should have is that the army and the police will have full complement of resources necessary for providing full and wholesome mentoring to young people who undergo army and police mentoring.
Short of adequate resources necessary for achieving what the army and the police have in mind, we might end up with cohorts of young people with a faulty army and police culture that may come back to haunt us. Inserting a faulty army culture among a section of young people brought us bitter results in the 1970s and 1980s that should not be repeated.
To conclude, no one can argue against all of us being concerned with problems of youth unemployment; increasing tendencies of young people’s admiration of criminality and their participation in crime. And no one can argue against all of us coming up with ideas and proposals of how to address these problems.
However, our concerns and proposals ought to be based on:
a nationally-agreed assertion of society we want to be;
a credible investigation of difficulties that stand in the way of us becoming society we want to be;
and coordination of proposals and ideas aimed at becoming society we want to be.
As with other specific instances of socio-economic development in Lesotho, problems facing the country’s young people cry out for the long-neglected establishment of the National Planning Board, as prescribed in Section 105 of the Constitution of Lesotho.
Prof Motlatsi Thabane
Call that a muffin?
In Oscar Wilde’s short story “The Canterville Ghost” (1887) one of the characters says about the British, “We have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.” Between American English and British English there are many, many differences. Which is not to say that either American or British English are standardised; there are multiple varieties within each. As a south-western Brit I can find it difficult to fully understand what someone from Liverpool or Newcastle is saying.
I remember one year during the NUL’s International Theatre for Development project we had a student from the islands of Scotland. She was brilliant and hard-working and full of good ideas — if only one could understand the ideas when she introduced them. The NUL students grouped together and asked me: “Chris, can you translate what Kirsty is saying for us?” and I replied: “I’m as lost as you are.”
Between American and British English it’s not just a matter of pronunciation but also of vocabulary (I’ll be coming to muffins — see the title of this piece — in a while) and spelling.
In the biographical film Prick Up Your Ears British, dramatist Joe Orton shares a room with Ken Halliwell and they decide to write a novel together. Ken asks Joe “can you spell?” and Joe replies “yes, but not accurately.”
This is hardly a surprise, given that he’s a Brit. The American spelling system is far more regular and rational than the British. (Readers with laptops will have noticed that your spell-check gives the option of British or American spelling, but that doesn’t help you as in Lesotho the British system is used, so for the time being you’re stuck with it).
I mean, what can you say about a spelling system where “plough” rhymes with “now”, but “tough” rhymes with “stuff”– and “now” doesn’t rhyme with “low.” Yipes (as the Americans say). When I was lecturing in Lesotho and in Nigeria and marking assignments I was always very lenient over spelling, because I know what a mountain it is to climb (the latter word rhyming with “time”, of course).
Then there is the matter of vocabulary or denotation (a term I hope readers remember from a few weeks back). There are many examples of things that are denoted by different words in British and American English: lift / elevator; pavement / sidewalk; windscreen / windshield; petrol / gas; cinema / movie theater (and look at the American spelling of (Brit) “theatre”– a lot easier). And some of these reflect our different histories.
For example, there’s a vegetable, a kind of small marrow, the British call it a courgette (one of my favourite vegetables, in case any of you are planning to invite me for dinner). That’s a word that British English has borrowed directly from French — that is, a loan word (I’m not sure we plan to give it back).
The Americans on the other hand call it a zucchini, a loan word from Italian, which I guess reflects the size and influence of the Italian community in the USA. (Speaking of vegetables, I can’t give you an explanation for why the Brits call an aubergine an aubergine — another loan word from French — but the Americans call it an egg-plant).
Next week I’ll get around to muffins — a sore point — and I’ll move on to differences between English and French and between Sesotho and Setswana. Bet you can’t wait.
Chris Dunton is a former Professor of English and Dean of Humanities at the National University of Lesotho.
Lessons from Israel: Part 3
I shall round off my account of my 1995 trip to Israel by putting on my tour guide cap. Staying in Tel Aviv, most days were fully taken up by the conference, which was my reason for being there. Tel Aviv in July is scorchingly hot, so there were walks along the beach only before breakfast and after sunset. I did take a little time off to go with South African author Stephen Gray to an art gallery that had a painting he wanted to see (a portrait by Modigliani of Beatrice Hastings, whose biography Stephen was then writing).
I wasn’t especially keen on the hotel restaurant, where dinner comprised meat served by the ton (surprisingly little fish, given that we were on the coast. By contrast, I had always been surprised and happy that Maseru restaurants are so good on fish, despite the fact that Lesotho isn’t exactly maritime). But I discovered a little Russian Jewish restaurant that offered Beluga caviar at an amazingly cheap price. I suspect it had fallen off the back of a lorry, as we say in the UK — i.e. that it was contraband, acquired illegally. I just blinked innocently and enjoyed myself. I can’t think of a more delicious way of starting a meal than with caviar, freshly-made blinis and a large glass of deeply chilled Wyberowa vodka — no ice, please. (I only say all this to show you what a very cosmopolitan chap I am).
The conference ran to a packed schedule and we worked hard (no, really). Half-way through we were given a day off and taken to Jerusalem. On arrival I teamed up with an old Nigerian friend and a friend of his from Senegal and we took ourselves first to the Dome of the Rock, the main mosque, which is splendid and radiant (wow, the mosaics!) Then we saw the Wailing Wall.
Then we trudged up the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Via marks the route along which Christ was forced to carry his cross on the way to his crucifixion (dolorosa means something like “of miseries”). I had expected it to be lined with sculptures showing the Stations of the Cross (rather like the lovely ones at Fatima, near Ramabanta).
Instead it was one tourist gift shop after another. Here I came across one of the most repugnant things I’ve seen in my life. Proudly displayed for sale, a wall clock with the face adorned with the image of the head of Christ, the two clock hands protruding from his nose.
At the top of the Via Dolorosa, the fourth century Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site in the world for Christians, which is breathtakingly beautiful. The interior is (not visibly) divided into sections, the upkeep of each of which is the responsibility of one of the major denominations: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Greek Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, and so on. I had had the impression this was an arrangement worked out under the colonial regime of British Palestine, but Google tells me it dates back to the Status Quo of 1757.
My companions had done their homework and suggested we head first for the roof, which had been allocated to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (dare one possibly suggest a tinge of racism in this marginalisation?). There we found a cluster of monkish cells, each inhabited by an elderly Ethiopian monk, at least two of whom spoke English or French. They were delighted to see us, and utterly sweet, hospitable, and in their accounts of their pastoral work spellbinding.
To be concluded
Short courses for ex-mineworkers
Stop the leaks
We need a coordinated approach on youth challenges
Mahao, PS in big fight
Call that a muffin?
How chicken import ban hit vendors
Letseng fends off threat to sue
RFP to welcome back rebel MPs
Duo in court over M1.8m fraud
Power deal divides ABC
ECOL withholds exam results over leak
Wife sues husband’s mistress for M1.5m
WASCO boss turns tables against colleague
Ex-policeboss blames Ramaphosa for Mahao death
The Market suspect granted bail
Weekly Police Report
Reforms: time to change hearts and minds
The middle class have failed us
No peace plan, no economic recovery
Coalition politics are bad for development
Academic leadership, curriculum and pedagogy
We have lost our moral indignation
Mokeki’s road to stardom
DCEO raids PS’
Literature and reality
The ABC blew its chance
Bringing the spark back to schools
I made Matekane rich: Moleleki
Musician dumps ABC
Bofuma, boimana li nts’a bana likolong
Mahao o seboko ka ho phahama hoa litheko
Contract Farming Launch
7,5 Million Dollars For Needy Children
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Ba ahileng lipuleng ba falle ha nakoana
Weekly Police Report
Mahao o re masholu a e ts’oareloe
‘Our Members Voted RFP’ Says Metsing
Matekane’s 100 Days Plan
High Profile Cases in Limbo
130 Law Students Graduate From NUL
Metsing and Mochoboroane Case Postponed
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