Stone Shi should be jailed, says farmer

Stone Shi should be jailed, says farmer

MASERU – DR MOHLALEFI Moteane, a wool farmer and trader, has called for the arrest of controversial businessman Stone Shi, the director of Maseru Dawning which manages the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre.
Dr Moteane, who is also a veterinarian, told an ad hoc parliamentary committee on Tuesday that Shi has fleeced farmers and pushed them into poverty.

“He deserves to be locked up for all that he has done,” Dr Moteane told the committee chaired by Kimetso Mathaba.
He told the committee that he was approached by Shi some time in 2012 with a proposal to work together.
He said he also met Shi at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and he promised to build a store for farmers, resulting in an agreement.
He said Shi, whom he described as a “crocodile”, was only interested in buying wool and not empowering local farmers.

Dr Moteane dismissed as false claims that local farmers went to China to invite Shi.
“He brought himself here and took advantage” of farmers’ ignorance. He said Shi learnt Basotho and now wants to trick and ambush Basotho farmers because, after losing a court battle, the government promulgated new wool and mohair regulations in his favour.
Dr Moteane told the committee that although Minister of Small Businesses Chalane Phori claims not to have a relationship with Shi, the farmer has been spotted at the ministry’s offices.
He said during a meeting, the minister told them that the Chinese are powerful.
“He said if we could not beat them we should join them and I do not believe in that,” Dr Moteane said.

He said on January 18 and 19 last year, Shi went to the Eastern Cape and told farmers to work with him but they refused.
He cast aspersions on Shi’s reported wealth. “I don’t know how millionaires look but Shi does not look like one,” Dr Moteane said, adding that the first time he met Shi in 2012, the businessman did not even own a car.
Shi was liquidated in China and has debts, he told the committee. “Is this the kind of investor we are nursing?” he quipped, and questioned why Phori was keen on having farmers work with Shi.
Dr Moteane said Phori told them that money would flow in if they worked with Shi.

“Are there any dollars now as evidence that the product is bought?” he asked, adding: “Why is he paying from his pocket?”
“We are dealing with a serious money launderer,” he said.
He said the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre is nothing but a store and not an auction place. Dr Moteane further told the parliamentary committee that there is a probability for contamination as both wool and mohair are stored together.
He said wool and mohair is competing with other fibres on the world market in making blankets, carpets and piano hammers hence the need to protect local farmers.
He said Australia is one country that is selling quality wool.
“We rank about 19th or 20th on wool but on mohair we are number two,” he said.

He took a dig at the new wool and mohair regulations, saying some villagers working hard under tough weather conditions were failing to support themselves due to the new regulations.
Dr Moteane said all stakeholders must be consulted before policies are changed, adding that no consultations took place when the new regulations were introduced. Instead, traders were simply summoned and told how the new framework would work.

He said the regulations would be better if placed under the Ministry of Agriculture.
He said he did not understand the rationale behind housing the regulations under the Ministry of Small Business and yet the expertise is in the Ministry of Agriculture.
“They can help in the guidelines,” he said.
Dr Moteane also said the local farmers’ association has 50 years experience, adding that pioneers of the industry started building shearing studs and working on regulations and transport logistics long back.
He said although many of the farmers do not know how to read or write they are smart and cannot be cheated.

Nkheli Liphoto

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