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.
Dicing with death
MASERU – spinning is a motorsport that originates in South Africa.
The pastime started in the 1980s in the country’s townships and was used mainly by gangsters as a way to show-off their stolen cars.
In the subsequent years, the sport has grown in popularity in South Africa’s neighbouring country and it has made its way to Lesotho.
Although spinning competitions are not held regularly in Lesotho, they always come with a huge fanfare and hundreds of supporters normally flock to its venues to watch drivers spinning, drifting and doing stunts.
It is a loud and mostly dangerous sport that has been labelled as the world’s most reckless sport.
It’s not just any car that is used in spinning, there are special cars that favourties for entertaining crowds.
The BMW 3-series famously known as Gusheshe owing to the brusque sound its engine makes are designed for the spin. Spinning enthusiasts say that BMW 3-series cars can be manipulated and their engines maintained easily.
Lately other people have started to opt for the V8 Toyota which they sport with BMW wheels.
In Lesotho, the shows are held at various places, including the Masianokeng filling station in Maseru. In 2021, Seisa Mohapi left the crowd yearning for more thrills, stunts and spins at Makoanyane Barracks and he emerged as a local favourite.
He has since gone on to make a career out of car spinning and because of the lack of competitions in Lesotho, Mohapi has to travel outside very often to compete.
Today, Mohapi, who is one the most famous spinners in Lesotho, is preparing for the Battle of the Nations competition to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 29.
He is not a newbie to the competition. Last year he was the only Mosotho competing against drivers from the host country, Eswatini and Botswana.
One fascinating fact about Mohapi is that he was not into spinning cars until a friend urged him to join the sport because of his fast driving. Mohapi insists, however, that when he is driving on the road he is not as fast as he is on the track.
He may now be a well-recognised spinner, but it was a difficult road. Getting invitations to South African competitions was mission impossible in the beginning because the sport was not recognised in Lesotho.
The best Mohapi managed was competitions in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu, before he eventually started getting invites to big events.
In 2018, he received his first invitation to attend big spinning events in Villiersdorp, Western Cape, and now the rest is history. He has travelled to several countries including Eswatini and Botswana.
Mohapi remembers: “(My friend) gave me an idea that you already have speed, if you can spin, you can do it well. From there I started spinning on the streets until we started taking it seriously, (we are) hosting events and joining spinning groups.”
When Mohapi is not throttling cars on weekends, during the week he has an office job at the Ministry of Social Development. He says his routine is between his job and spinning.
It is a costly passion.
Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports in the world because it requires fully operational engines and such are costly. Mohapi has no sponsor, he bears all the costs when it comes to his car. Luckily for Mohapi, he can repair cars which means the costs of fixing have not weighed as heavily on him as they otherwise would have.
“Even though spinning is a very expensive sport, I am still fully self-sponsored and it does not cost much on my pocket because I know how to repair cars. So, this is different to someone who waits on engineers when their cars crash,” Mohapi says.
“Because these cars are being used heavily, they kill engines a lot. The cheapest engines range from M3 000 to M4 000 so if you are buying them regularly it becomes expensive. The (engine) I am using is about M18 000 to M20 000 – I am hoping spinning will be recognised as a growing sport,” he continues.
In spinning contests, it is the host’s responsibility to provide participants with tyres, while the participants should make sure that their rims are fit for the performance. Many drivers have earned themselves a reputation with drifting, but that is not the case with Mohapi.
He enjoys spinning and doing stunts most and that has become his trademark.
“For the spin to be performed best, it requires skills,” Mohapi says.
“Some can draw the interest of the audience and some just drift and confuse the audience. When the audience cannot capture what you are doing, they keep themselves busy by buying refreshments,” he adds.
There is a difference between spinning and drifting. Spinning which is more popular is when drivers lock their cars into a spin and screech tyres and make clouds of smoke. They then climb out of the car to perform stunts while spinning.
Meanwhile, the internet defines drifting as a driving technique where the driver intentionally over-steers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.
The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. For example, if the car is turning left, the wheels are pointed right or vice versa.
Mohapi says spinning is all about entertainment, no one can be considered a winner, the only way to know if you did well is by the crowd’s reaction to your performance. South Africa is now preparing to host bigger spinning events in which there will be prize money given to participants who impress, and he says he is looking forward to it.
“All I can say is Basotho should support spin because their kids love it,” Mohapi enthuses.
“Their kids must know there is someone in Lesotho who spins and his name is Seisa. At these events there are really a lot of kids, it brings happiness to them.”
Bereng raring to go
MASERU – Likuena star midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng says it’s good for Likuena to go in the match against star-studded Zambia as underdogs despite winning the last encounter between the two countries.
The two southern African countries will face-off in back-to-back matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium on March 23 and 26 respectively.
Motebang Sera was the hero in the last match at the COSAFA Cup beating Kennedy Mweene twice to become Likuena’s all time leading goal-scorer in the regional tournament with six goals.
Bereng, who now plays his football for Eswatini giants, Mbabane Highlanders, makes a return to the Likuena squad since last year’s goalless draw against Ivory Coast, where he was an unused substitute.
“Look, it will be a totally different ball game to the one when we last played at the COSAFA Cup and they also know that it’s not going to be a walk in the park for them,” the midfielder said.
“We just have to approach the game with the same mindset we had against them two years ago in Port Elizabeth, which was self-belief and playing to our strength.”
Bereng, who had a long career playing in South Africa for the likes of Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Black Leopards, admitted that Zambia are favourite on paper going into the two matches, but is adamant they can cause an upset like they did in holding star-studded Ivory Coast to a goalless draw.
“Of course, on paper they are favourites because they have a lot of players playing abroad such as Patson Daka of Leicester City, but like I said, self-belief is very important at this level of football,” Bereng said.
“I think for me it’s very good to be labelled underdogs, it takes the pressure away from us and gives us room to surprise them.
“They are going to be to tough games, but we have been there before and we know what we have to do to improve our position if we are to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.
Likuena will host Eswatini in a training match this Thursday as both countries fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 2023 Afcon matches.
Free show for football fans
MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has opened its gates to Basotho who want to watch the national team Likuena today. Lesotho hosts Eswatini this afternoon at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in their last friendly match before they fly to Zambia.
This training match is part of Likuena’s preparation for the back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Zambia in two weeks’ time.
Three weeks ago, Lesotho coach Veselin Jelusic and his charges travelled to Malawi for a friendly match which ended with a 1-1. At the time the Serbian coach said he wished for more games and today’s match will surely come in handy as it will help him to fine-tune mistakes Likuena made against Malawi.
The first leg match of the AFCON qualifier against Zambia will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on March 23, with the return leg set for Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on March 26th. Lesotho needs to win at least one of the two games to stand any chance of qualifying.
After two AFCON qualifying games, Likuena are bottom of Group H which also includes Comoros and Ivory Coast.
Like Likuena, Eswatini is also preparing to take on Cape Verde in their AFCON qualifying campaigns on March 24 and 28 respectively.
LEFA has invited Basotho to come and watch their team free of charge as this could be their last chance to watch Likuena on their home soil until Setsoto Stadium is upgraded to meet international standards.
Because of the unavailability of the national stadium Likuena have been forced to play their home matches in South Africa.
Likuena lost 2-0 away to Comoros in their opener but played to a spirited 0-0 draw with giants Ivory Coast at ‘home’. Both games were played last June.
Two of Likuena’s foreign based players have already joined up with the team. Lead striker Motebang Sera, who is still recovering from a minor injury that side-lined him for his South African premiership club Royal AM, is with the team. He missed his team’s 5-1 clobbering by Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Tšoarelo Bereng, who is also based across the border, is another one that is now in camp with Likuena.
Richards Bay striker Katleho Makateng is yet to link up with the team, he is expected to be part of the Richards Bay squad that will take on TS Galaxy in the DSTV Premiership in Mpumalanga on Sunday. He will be allowed to join Likuena after and is expected to be a key figure against Zambia.
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