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The damning testimonies



MASERU – TEN soldiers are expected to testify during the Court Martial of three soldiers who are accused of plotting mutiny against Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo. Their damning testimonies will reveal how the deadly plot that saw Lt Gen Motšomotšo was hatched and executed.
The evidence is also expected to reveal what happened in and around his office at the time when he was assassinated.
The government says Lt Gen Motšomotšo was gunned down in his office at Ratjomose Barracks by Brigadier Bulane Sechele who was accompanied by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi. Both Sechele and Hashatsi were shot dead by Lt Gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards during a shoot-out.

Below are summaries of their statements:

Number 11086 CDO Lance Corporal Mohono

On September 5, 2017 Brigadier Sechele, Colonel Hashatsi and Major Ramoepane arrived at the Command Block where they went to a boardroom and waited as the Commander had a visitor.
After a few minutes the Brigadier and Colonel came from the boardroom in a hurry to the Commander’s office. Before they entered the Commander’s office, Sergeant Seitlheko warned them about the presence of a visitor in the office.
Brig. Sechele replied saying the Commander had called them to come to his office. In his holster there was no weapon. Col Hashatsi had no weapon too. They were allowed in.
Sergeant Seitlheko went to Lieutenant Colonel Ndleleni’s office with surprise. Then Lt. Col. Ndleleni stood up and went to the Commander’s office. I remained (suspicious) when I noticed that movement to the Commander’s office.
I decided to observe this movement from the CCTV room. I heard gun shots from the office and took the position facing the Commander’s office door to see what would appear from that door.
Lt. Col. Ndleleni appeared from the main door shouting: “It is Sechele!” I warned him to move away so I could engage them. But the Brigadier and the Colonel ran out of the office followed by ’M’e Palesa Mahamo who fell on the ground when I was firing at the two.


Number 9432 Sergeant Hashe

On September 5, 2017 I arrived at the military intelligence office at around 6.30am and collected daily reports as usual. At 8.30am I called Major Ramoepane on his mobile phone. He was at Ratjomose. The call was a follow-up on my application for a firearm licence at the police headquarters.
Major Ramoepane tasked me to find out about the three Special Forces soldiers who were to report to the police on that day even though they had been released by the LDF command. The task was to identify the police station they were to report to.
On my way from the police headquarters Lance Corporal Molupe phoned me from the military intelligence office saying the commander had been killed by Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi.
Upon arrival at the office, I called Major Ramoepane, to whom I report directly, but he dropped my call without answering. After some 40 minutes he called back saying he was at Makoanyane Military Hospital and that he was not feeling well.
He told me he had received a call from Brig. Sechele in the morning giving him an order to go to the Command Block. He said upon arrival at the Command Block he asked the bodyguards about Brig. Sechele’s whereabouts but he immediately phoned him saying he had seen him and he was coming to him.
Major Ramoepane said Brigadier Sechele told him that he was going to confront the commander about the three soldiers who were to be taken to the police.

Number 9595 Major Linale

On September 9, 2017 I was assigned to arrest Number 11283 Captain Nyakane in connection with his actions on September 5, 2017 that made him a suspect in the assassination of Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo.
I took section from the standby platoon at Makoanyane Barracks and arrested him at the offices of the Military Intelligence. He took us to his white Corolla. We searched it and found a 245.RM.62911 9mm pistol, 13x9mm rounds on magazine+20 loose 9mm rounds=33 rounds, 02x9mm pistol magazine, 03x cell phones, MP5, S/N0 – 28860 with 132 rounds on magazine, 06XMP5 rifle magazine, Testo Tribulus (tablets), a bottle of water, 01x silencer, scuff, energizer torch, 02x hand grenades (M32), torch, 03x sunglasses, balaclava and 02x bandages.

Number 82249 Private Ratšiu

On September 4, 2017 Lieutenant Jane called me saying I should report myself at the Deputy Commander’s office on the following day. He said I would find Corporal Sebolai who would take us to the Deputy Commander’s office.
I called Private Matsoso asking him if he had received a similar message. At around 6pm Corporal Sebolai called me saying our officers wanted to meet us. Corporal Sebolai said Private Matsoso and me would find him waiting for us near Makoanyane Primary School.
I arrived before Private Matsoso. When he finally arrived Corporal Sebolai made a phone call reporting that we had arrived.
We went to the canteen and bought drinks, leaving Corporal Sebolai in the car. (A page that continues the testimony is missing. The next page deals with how they went to the police headquarters and later heard a report that Lt. Gen. Motšomotšo, Brig. Sechele and Col. Hashatsi had been killed).

Number 11505 Corporal Sebolai

On September 4, 2017 Lieutenant Jane called me saying I, Private Ratsiu and Private Matsoso should report at the Deputy Commander’s office on the following day in the morning. I asked him if we would be taken there by the office or we should go there ourselves.
At around 6pm on the same day Major Ramosie called me saying we should report at the office. At around 7pm Colonel Hashatsi called me asking if I was aware that on the following day we were to report to the police.
I told him that Lieutenant Jane said we were going to the Deputy Commander’s office. He told me that we were going to the police. He called me again later saying he wanted to meet us.
He said he was with Brigadier Sechele and Captain Fonane and Captain Nyakane. We went to Colonel Hashatsi’s home. (At the meeting we were advised that) we should not agree to go to the police.
Brigadier Sechele said Major General Poopa got angry with him when he provided legal advice. They told us that if we agreed to go to the police we were not going to come back just as the Prime Minister and the police had said.

We were now afraid to go to the police. On the following day, myself and other soldiers reported at the office and Lieutenant Jane took us to the Deputy Commander’s office. I went to the CPT office where I found Captain Fonane who said I should wait for Major Ramosie.
He took us to the Deputy Commander’s office where we were instructed to report to the police. When we raised issue that we were afraid to go, the Deputy Commander assured us that nothing bad was going to happen to us.
When we came out of the office, Colonel Hashatsi called me and asked if we had agreed to go to the police. (Other pages missing)

Number 54964 CDO Private Matsoso

On September 4, 2017, Second Lieutenant ’Mako called me and said I should report to the office on the following day so that I could go to the Deputy Commander’s office. On the same evening I was called by Corporal Sebolai saying our superiors wanted to meet us.
I met Corporal Sebolai and Private Ratsiu near Makoanyane Primary School. We waited in his car and he received a call after which he directed us to go and wait for others at the canteen.

We bought two bottles of beer at the canteen and soon Colonel Hashatsi entered, bought airtime and left.
When we later went to Private Ratsiu’s car we met Private Masiloane who had parked next to us. We told him that we were going to meet our superiors about what we encountered when we were guarding at the former commander, General Kamoli’s home. Private Ratsiu received a call inviting us to Colonel Hashatsi’s home.

Upon arrival there we found Brigadier Sechele, Colonel Hashatsi, Captain Fonane and Captain Nyakane. Brigadier Sechele told us that we were going to be instructed to report to the police by the Deputy Commander.
He said he did not recommend that we go there because the police had summoned the former Defence Minister for questioning and they tortured him until his ribs broke.

He said the police wanted him to give them the names of all soldiers who had issues at the police. He said they wanted such soldiers so that they die during interrogations. Brigadier Sechele asked if that was what we wanted and we said no.
Colonel Hashatsi also said he did not want us to go to the police because we would die during interrogation. They asked us as individuals if we wanted to go to the police and we said no.

On the following day Major Ramosie took us to the Deputy Commander who assured us that nothing bad would happen to us at the police. Major Ramosie undertook to take us to the police. While we were about to get into the car Corporal Sebolai answered a call and said Colonel Hashatsi wanted to talk to Major Ramosie.

They met in Colonel Hashatsi’s car. Major Ramosie came back and we were driven to the police. While we were sitting outside the office at the police a call was received that informed us that the army commander had been ambushed and had been killed together with Brigadier Sechele while Colonel Hashatsi was seriously injured.

Number 10932 CDO Captain Malefane

On September 5, 2017 I went to the Commander to find out if there could be any activities of the day but he said there was nothing.
I left the office to our CCTV room located in the block. In a short while I called Corporal Mosenene to come and be in the room because I wanted to go to the wash room and also outside for a while to warm my leg in the sun.
I noticed Major Ramosie walk from the Deputy Commander’s office with Corporal Sebolai, Private Ratsiu and Private Matsoso. He said he was taking them to the police. I noticed Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi coming.

Majara Molupe

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Lesotho’s own brandy



ROMA-“Go, eat your food with rejoicing, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for already the true God has found pleasure in your works,” so says the Big Book.

Driven by that divine, Mohapi Pule has gone a step further – by coming up with a new type of brandy – to make you merry.
The brandy, Mountain Spels Brandy, will make the heart of the dying man rejoice.
“The healthy nutrients in fruits that make brandy, end up in you when you drink it,” he said.

Pule studied nutrition at the National University of Lesotho.
His brandy is made by fermenting fruits into wine. The wine is then distilled into a brandy. It carries the flavour and the aroma of the original fruits.

The story began when Pule was born in Quthing, Mphaki. He was born to a hardworking mother who brew traditional beer like no other.
“She brew beer well before I was born. She is still making it to this day,” he said.

His passion for brewing was probably “born” even before he was born. Mothers have a hidden way of passing not just their looks but their passions to their children.

As he grew up, he found that he was still intertwined with his mom’s brewing business in one way or another.
“Mostly, I am expected to fetch water for the brewing process. That, I still do to this day when I visit home,” he says.
Two decades later, Pule found himself in the Roma Valley, doing BSc in Nutrition.

“At some point, I found that I had lost purpose in life. There was not a thing that I could say, well, I was passionate about this thing or that thing.”
That situation, of course, threw him into some serious soul-searching.
It brought him back to his roots.

“During this period, I recalled that when I was younger, I used to imagine helping my mom do the packaging of the beer she was making and helping distribute it countrywide,” he said.

From a young age, the issue of subsistence business didn’t appeal to him. But that imagination came and passed. Now here he was, worried that he might not amount to anything in life.

Then, boom! An idea came!
What if he produced an alcoholic drink?

He could have thought about anything to do as a business but, lo and behold! He thought about his mother’s passion!

One of the things he loves about alcoholic beverages is that they are popular.

“I haven’t seen products as popular as alcoholic drinks,” he said.
He might be wrong or right but the reality is, the rest of the world has for generations found delight in alcoholic beverages – some to the extent of overdoing it to their injury!

“Mabele khunoana ralitlhaku thabisa lihoho. Mabele u tsoa kae e le khale re u batla re sa u thole? Ueeeena mabeeeele!” (Loosely translated beer brewed from sorghum make men happy. We’ve been looking for you from afar, you sorghum. In short, this is a praise poem for the Sesotho sorghum brew).
But then came the most difficult part. Which specific beverages should he focus on and how would he do it?

He decided that he would focus on ciders. He realised that not many people in Lesotho were making ciders.

He started experimenting at home and realized how difficult the process was. He just couldn’t get it right. To worsen matters, he also did not have the right equipment.

But like most successful innovators, he just knew that he had to start his business right away.

Pule says he then learnt about other forms of beverages: the spirits. Spirits are very high in alcohol content. Here we are talking the likes of whiskey, vodka and brandy.

He was particularly interested in vodka. He went into one NUL laboratory and, with necessary permission, began testing a number of spirits and doing a lot of research about them.

He began saving some of the money he earned from the National Manpower Development Secretariat in the form of student allowance so he could buy equipment. Saving was not easy. The subsistence money was already not that much. Having to share it with a business was asking a little too much.

But Pule was so determined that he did it, bought equipment that allowed him to develop what he thought was “vodka”.

However, after buying the equipment he immediately realised that the equipment was to make brandy not vodka.

“Now I was forced to get into brandy by chance,” he said.
It was a mistake that he has never regretted having realised that there are very few individuals who were making brandy in Lesotho.

Pule had to throw himself fully into experiments. He read books about brandy production. He even enrolled for an online course on distillation.
In the end, he began to see some light.

“I began to feel some difference in the taste of my produce,” he said. “When I shared my produce with my lecturers, they were over the moon!”
With that encouragement, Pule began packaging his brandy and is now selling it to family and friends.

“My small equipment means that I can’t produce much. However, If I were to get bigger equipment, things would be much better.”

Own Correspondent

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Ready-to-cook vegetables



ROMA – ’MATUMANE Matela, a National University of Lesotho (NUL)-trained nutritionist, is an example of how a nutritionist should think and act.
Matela makes and sells ready-to-cook vegetables out of produce from her own farm or produce she preferably buys from local farms.
“When I make a dish, as a nutritionist, I make choices that ensure a typical package is packed with nutrition,” Matela said.

Today, we examine an interesting story of the lady who is determined to ensure that you eat healthy despite your busy schedule.
It started with her experiences in life.
She describes herself as an extremely busy woman.
She likes getting things done.
As the busy amongst us will say, the busier you become, the less you watch your diet.
She couldn’t escape the trap!

“My busy schedule meant that I ended up eating junk and I was gaining weight,” she said.
With time, she came to her senses.
As a nutritionist, she recalled that the best way to preach was to preach by example.
So, was she preaching what she practised?
Clearly, she wasn’t.
She had to find an option to maintain the busy schedule and eat healthy at the same time.

The beautiful thing about nutrition is that the healthiest foods are the closest to us: fruits and vegetables.
Some scientists even claim that our bodies seem to be designed to thrive on fruits and vegetables.
“Have you ever wondered why looking at a ripe raw peach on a tree is mouth-watering but looking at a fat cow isn’t?” asked one scientist.
Well, whether we were designed for fruits and vegetables or not, the truth is that they are good for our bodies.
That’s what good science tells us.

And we somehow “know it” too if you have heard about anything called intuition.
So one day she found herself increasingly eating fruits and vegetables.
It’s easier to change a religion than a diet, they say.
So it is commendable that she changed her diet at all.
“The idea was to chop as much vegetables as possible and put them in a fridge so that in future, I will just pull them out and cook.”
She wasn’t proposing something new.
Who amongst us doesn’t enjoy the convenience of just pulling up chopped frozen vegetables and cooking?

Little did she know that what she was doing was putting her on a path to a brilliant business.
It took a post on a social media to achieve just that.
“I took a pic of the chopped and packaged vegetables and posted them on my social media account. The reaction was swift. I began getting questions like, “how much?””
It immediately dawned on her that she could be sitting on a great business idea, after all.

So she gave it a try and started selling.
To her surprise, people started buying.
In fact, “I get orders for my products almost on a daily basis.”
That is how interested people really are.
This to an extent that her business now gets up to four irregular employees, she included, when the demand is high.
She said her training in Agriculture, Home Economics and Nutrition has helped her to give a thought into what she was doing.

For instance, where possible, she grows her own crops and sells them as first preference.
She has grown spinach, butternut, green pepper, onion, herbs and beans.
She is also in the process of renting more fields to grow more vegetables.
Then she empowers Basotho producers by requesting them to supply.
Going for foreign produce is the last resort.
Look at her packages and you realise something.
The “7 colours” proverb comes alive.

Those seven colours (several colours actually) may have been designed to appeal to your eyes but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The colours of vegetables mean a lot in terms of nutrition.
Each colour gives you something different.
So, the more colours in one meal, the merrier.
To drive this home, let’s go a scientific route for a second.
Red, Blue and Purple: These vegetables contain substances that are good at reducing the risk of stroke, cancer and memory problems.
White: The likes of onion or garlic may help lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease.

Orange and Yellow: Carrots immediately come to mind.
These vegetables contain substances called carotenoids which may help improve your immune system and help to improve the health of your eyes.
Basotho, it would appear, have long known a thing or two about the relationship between carrots and eyes.
Hence the famous saying, “o jele lihoete” (they ate carrots), often applied to good sportsmen or women with symbolically “good eyesight”.

Green: Green is life. Green vegetables come packed with chlorophyll, a chemical that scientists believe can boost your immune system, eliminate fungus in your body, clean your blood, lead to healthy intestines and give you boundless energy.
As a bonus, her Home Economics background is such that she is armed with a host of recipes for each of the packages she sells.
She has great dreams for the future.
“I want to see my products decorating the shelves of big supermarkets,” she said.
It’s time!

Own Correspondent

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A new, co-operative chain store



ROMA – ’MAKUENA Lesiea is spearheading the creation of a cooperative chain store that will sell Lesotho products only.
The store is being developed under the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub and it will be incubated by the Hub.
“Have you seen it? Basotho are producing like never before,” Lesiea said.
“However, their products are hard to see in the markets. We want to change all that.”

The store, she said, will open branches in all districts of Lesotho, starting from Maseru.
Visit any supermarket in Lesotho and check the products on the shelves.
You will be shocked to realise that, in general, just one percent of them are made in Lesotho.
The other 99 percent comes from elsewhere.
Is it because Basotho are not producing or can’t produce at all?

“Having worked directly with the NUL Innovation Hub and the Tsa Mahlale TV programme under the Hub, I have travelled the depth and breadth of Lesotho and I was amazed at the amount of work Basotho are doing,” she said.
What is the problem?
Basotho products are not given sufficient platforms to prove themselves.
“Credit where it is due, some shops are beginning to accept and sell Basotho products,” she said.

“However, they are barely making a dent because Basotho products, being at their infancy, cannot receive full attention unless by a store that is designed to give them full attention.”
Such a store doesn’t exist.

She said the idea is not to compete with any of the existing stores because “we are getting into a new territory altogether, we are addressing a different market”.
So listen to Lesiea as she presents some features of the store that will surely persuade you to join the bandwagon:

  1. Customer and producer confidence: The store, she said, will achieve two things.
    First, when they see masses of Lesotho-made products in one place, Basotho customers will slowly grow confidence in them.
    The confidence will shoot to the roof when the customers experience that many of the products made in Lesotho are already way ahead of foreign competitors in terms of quality.
    Secondly, the store will give Basotho producers an assurance that their products have, at least, one store that is willing to take them, dark or blue.
    More production will come from such assurance.
  2. Selling “everything”: The store will sell everything from fruits and vegetables to processed foodstuffs to clothing and building materials (if Thabure car will be in production by then, it will be on the shelves too).
    “Suppose what we want to sell is not locally made, we will never cross the border, any border, to find its equivalence. We will encourage Basotho to produce it until they do.”
  3. We mean business: whereas Basotho are beginning to produce, their products are still all over the place.
    You bump across them in some few willing stores, in expos and trade shows, or as being sold by individual resellers. Those are good efforts, but they are not enough. In fact, many in Lesotho have come to see producing and selling as being more of an art, a hobby, a therapy or a hustling than a business, “so we are seriously moving away from such a casual approach, we mean business this time around.”
  4. Ownership: So when you enter this store, you could be purchasing a product made by you in a store owned by you. What a difference!
  5. Reasonable standards: the store will only demand reasonable standards. As a struggling Mosotho, try taking your products to some of the local shops and you are, at worst, turned away without reason or, at best, given a long list of standards you must meet before they can take your product.
    “In our case, as long as your products are reasonably of good quality, you are in. NUL Innovation Hub is already testing many Basotho products. We won’t ignore quality, but we won’t use it as a way to prevent Basotho products from growing either.”
  6. A cooperative chainstore: From contributing as little as M50 per month, members will use a continuous financing model to ensure that the store doesn’t just end in Maseru but reaches the ten districts of Lesotho.
    Each branch will start at a medium scale in order to grow along with Basotho products. We won’t ask for investors to come from anywhere, “we will be investors ourselves.”
  7. An export launch pad. “We are often told to export our produce. The obvious question is, if you haven’t convinced your own people to consume your own products, how can you convince people in other lands to do so? Why should they take you seriously?”
    However, the store is not meant to be a local store forever.
    It will be a means by which we export our products to other countries in the future.
    When we export the store to Soweto, we export it along with products from Lesotho.
    Don’t say no because we have seen Chinese shops and Indian shops and, of course, South African shops, filled to the brim with Chinese products and Indian products and South African products in many countries.
    “If they can do it,” Lesiea ended, “so can we.”
    “Because if it is there in some of us, it is there in all of us.”

Own Correspondent

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