Connect with us


A disease from hell



MASERU-WHEN 52-year-old ’Madaemane Tsunyane bled after having intercourse in October 2018, she didn’t think much of it, even less that it could be a symptom of cancer.

When she was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer, she was overwhelmed by the news, and the pain that followed was unimaginable.
“They were like birth pains,” she told thepost this week.
Blood clots followed. Half of a bucket and at times those clots would be red or black,” she said.

She said she subsequently became weak and fell unconscious. Her children took her to Makoanyane hospital where she got admitted for two weeks, but that was just the start of her journey managing a disease that is affecting many Basotho women.

“I was informed that I lost a lot of blood. I would go up and down for treatment,” she said.
“All I did was drink painkillers and it wasn’t helping much. My skin colour changed.”

She said health staff suspected it was cancer and she was referred to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital before being taken to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, commonly known as Tšepong.
There, the cancer was confirmed.

Many Basotho women battling cervical cancer are enduring hell on earth, with excruciating pain becoming a daily struggle.
The government says cervical cancer is one of the biggest public health challenges in Lesotho.

For survivors such as Tsunyane, the hope is that the government deals with the challenge as a matter of urgency so that other women do not have to go through the pain she suffered.
The pain made her feel like death was knocking on the door.
“I couldn’t walk anymore and I was put on a wheelchair,” said Tsunyane, adding: “I could see my death getting nearer and nearer.”

She was referred back to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in December and then told she should seek further treatment in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
But the doctors were on leave and would only be available in January.
“I lost all hope,” she said.

A ray of light filtered when she learnt of a visit to Lesotho by some Indian doctors, who eventually attended to her.
Tsunyane later left for treatment in India in February 2019, where she underwent chemotherapy sessions for six weeks.
“One of the side-effects was losing my hair. It was a shiny chiskop, I doubted I would ever grow hair again,” she said.

Afterwards, she said she underwent two radiation sessions.
“It is very tough in theatre but I can’t say much about it as I might scare other people,” she said.

Through it all, the support from her family has been amazing, Tsunyane said, although she also had to contend with constant rumours of her death.
“It was just too much to learn that they had already killed me before God did. It was more than depressing,” she said.
“This also shocked my children.”
She described her recovery as “miraculous”.

“Sometimes I cry and wonder why God saved my life when I recall those days. I am happy that I recovered but I am still amazed that indeed I survived.”
She urged Basotho to go for cancer screening before it’s too late.
“The pain I suffered I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women and accounts for about 44 percent of all cancer cases in Lesotho, said Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo.
According to 2018 data, the incidence of cervical cancer in Lesotho is 52.1 per 100 000 women, with a mortality rate of 39.1.

Globally, cervical cancer ranks as the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women aged 15 to 44 years.
“The highest regional incidence and mortality rates are in Africa, where we live. Projections indicate that unless we urgently scale up services, the burden of cervical cancer will increase to almost 460 000 deaths by 2040 globally,” said Maqelepo.

Maqelepo said Lesotho joined the World Health Assembly, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the rest of the world to launch the Global Strategy for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem on Tuesday.
He said the global cervical cancer elimination strategy provides a roadmap, through the following 90-70-90 targets for 2030.

“To sustain and maximise these gains, comprehensive, people-centred care across the life course is critical to secure healthy lives for women and young girls.”
He also said 90 percent of women identified to be having cervical disease received treatment (90 percent of women screened positive treated for precancer lesions; 90 percent of invasive cancer cases managed).

Despite the gains in access to life-saving medication and prolonged life expectancy in countries worst hit by the HIV epidemic such as Lesotho, cervical cancer remains a challenge.
He said both HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer reflect geographical, gender and socio-economic inequalities.

“Their burdens reflect health disparities. HIV infection disproportionately affects vulnerable girls and women,” he said.
He said the WHO established that cervical cancer should no longer be considered a public health problem when the age-adjusted incidence rate is less than 4 per 100 000 women.

“Although incidence cannot be reduced to zero with the current interventions, the elimination threshold is achievable within the 21st century in every country.”
To achieve elimination in the shortest period of time and with maximum impact, intensive HPV vaccination and screening and treatment of precancerous lesions must be pursued in combination, said the minister.

He said in order to achieve elimination within a century, the following targets need to be met by 2030, 90 percent of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age and 70 percent of women are screened with a high-performance test when they get to 35 and 45 years.
Maqelepo explained that HPV vaccination was introduced in Lesotho in 2013 and the ministry will be integrating HPV vaccination into routine immunization programmes to ensure maximum coverage and sustainability.

“The vaccination programme is expected to commence in 2020.”
He said the government plans to establish a cancer treatment hospital to provide comprehensive cancer management services.
“The project is at various stages, there are diverse health care workers undergoing training to ensure adequate human resources for the cancer hospital.”

He said the ministry “will do everything within its power to ensure that all targets are met as outlined by the World Health Organisation.”
“We are now well positioned to take action and significantly reduce the burden of cervical cancer in the world, together with the promising technologies, health products, and delivery models that are increasingly available. The time is right for an inclusive, concerted, ambitious strategy to significantly accelerate progress towards elimination,” the minister said.

Lesotho is one of four African countries that launched the cervical cancer elimination initiative, said Dr Mphu Ramatlapeng, a former health minister and Anglo-American Board member.
The other countries are Botswana, South-Africa and Rwanda.

“We are proud to be part of the initiative,” said Dr Ramatlapeng, who is also a member of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI), a global health organisation committed to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease in low-and middle-income countries.

’Mapule Motsopa

Continue Reading


Lawyer in trouble



A local lawyer, Advocate Molefi Makase, is in soup after he flew into a rage, insulting his wife and smashing her phone at a police station.

It was not possible to establish why Adv Makase was so mad at his wife. He is now expected to appear before the Tšifa-li-Mali Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, he was released from custody on free bail on condition that he attends remands.

Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa granted Advocate Makase bail after his lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Machaile, pleaded that he had to appear for his clients in the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Makase is facing two charges of breaching peace and malicious damage to property.

According to the charge sheet, on October 5, 2023, within the precincts of the Leribe Police Station, Advocate Makase allegedly used obscene, threatening, or insulting language or behaviour, or acted with an intent to incite a breach of the peace.

The prosecution alleges that the lawyer shouted at his wife, ’Mamahao Makase, and damaged her Huawei Y5P cell phone “with an intention to cause harm” right at police station.

During his initial appearance before Magistrate Koaesa, Advocate Makase expressed remorse for his actions and sought the court’s leniency, pleading for bail due to an impending appearance in the Court of Appeal.

His lawyer, Advocate Machaile, informed the court that an arrangement had been made with the police to secure his release the following day, as he had spent a night in detention.

Advocate Machaile recounted his efforts to persuade the police to release him on the day of his arrest.

He noted that the police had assured them of his release the following day, which indeed came to fruition.

Following his release, he was instructed to present himself before the court, which he dutifully complied with.

Advocate Machaile underscored Advocate Makase’s standing as a recognised legal practitioner in the court.

Notably, he was scheduled to appear in the Court of Appeal but had to reschedule his commitment later in the day to accommodate his court appearance.

Advocate Machaile asserted that Advocate Makase presented no flight risk, as he resides in Hlotse with his family and has no motive to evade his legal obligations.

He respectfully petitioned the court for his release on bail, emphasising that he had demonstrated his ability to adhere to the court’s conditions.

The Crown Counsel, Advocate Taelo Sello, expressed no objection to the bail application, acknowledging that the accused had a forthcoming matter in the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court granted Advocate Makase bail without any financial conditions, with the stipulation that he must not tamper with state witnesses and must fully participate in the trial process until its conclusion.

’Malimpho Majoro

Continue Reading


Trio in court for killing ‘witches’



THREE elderly women were all stabbed to death with a spear during a deadly night after they were accused of being witches.

Three suspects, all from Ha-Kholoko village in Roma, appeared in the High Court this week facing a charge of murder.
They are Jakobo Mofolo, Oele Poto, and Pakiso Lehoko.

They accused the elderly women of bewitching one of Poto’s relative who had died.

The stunning details of the murder was unravelled in court this week, thanks to Tlhaba Bochabela, 32, who is the crown witness.

Bochabela told High Court judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, last week that he had been invited to become part of the murder group but chickened out at the last minute.

Bochabela said in March 2020, he was invited by Rethabile Poto to come to his house in the evening.

He said when he went there, he found Mofolo, Poto, and Lehoko already at the house. There were two other men who he did not identify.

“I was told that the very same night we were going to do some task, we were going to kill some people,” Bochabela told Justice Hlaele.

He said he asked which people were going to be killed and was told that they were ’Malekhooa Maeka, ’Mathlokomelo Poto, ’Mampolokeng Masasa.

They said the three women had successfully bewitched Rethabile Poto’s uncle leading to his death.

Bochabela said after he was told of this plot, he agreed to implement it but requested that he be allowed to go to his house to fetch his weapon.

He said Lehoko was however suspicious that he was withdrawing from the plot and mockingly said “let this woman go and sleep, we can see that he is afraid and is running away”.

Bochabela said the only person he told the truth to, that he was indeed going to his home to sleep instead of going to murder the three elderly women was Mofolo who also told him that he was leaving too.

He said he told Mofolo that he felt uncomfortable with the murder plan.

Bochabela said he left and when he arrived at his place he told his wife all about the meeting and the plot to kill the women.

He said his wife commended him for his decision to pull out.

“I told my wife to lock the door and not respond to anyone that would come knocking looking for me,” Bochabela said.

He said later in the night, Rethabile Poto arrived at his place and called him out but they did not respond until he left.

Bochabela said in the morning they discovered that indeed the men had carried out their mission.

The village chief of Ha-Kholoko, Chief Thabang Lehoko, told Justice Hlaele that it was between 11 pm and 12 midnight when he received a phone call from one Pakiso Maseka who is a neighbour to one of the murdered women.

Chief Lehoko said Maseka told him to rush to ’Mampolokeng Masasa’s place to see what evil had been done to her.

“I rushed to Masasa’s place and on arrival I found Pakiso in the company of Moitheri Masasa,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said he found the old lady on the bed, naked with her legs spread wide.

“I was embarrassed by the sight of the old lady in that state, naked and covered in blood,” the chief said.

He said he went out and asked Maseka what had happened but Maseka referred him to Moitheri Masasa.

Chief Lehoko said Masasa told him that there were people with spears who had threatened to kill him if he came out of the house.

He said Maseka said he knew that Masasa’s neighbour, ’Malekhooa Maeka, was a light sleeper and she could have heard something.

The chief then sent one Patrick Lehoko to Maeka’s house to check if she had heard anything but Patrick came back saying Maeka was not at her house.

“I immediately stood up and went to ’Malekhooa’s place,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said when he arrived, he knocked at her door but there was no response so he kicked the door open, went in and called out ’Malekhooa Maeka by name.

Chief Lehoko said he then lit his phone and saw her lying in bed covered in blankets.

He said he then went closer to her and shook her but she was heavy.

Chief Lehoko said he tried to shake her again one last time while still calling her out but he touched blood.

He said he immediately left and went back to tell others that Maeka seemed to be dead too.

“I decided to go and buy airtime from the nearest shop which I had passed through near ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s home.”

He said on his way he met one Sebata Poto who asked him who he was.

Chief Lehoko said he only replied by telling him that the two women, Masasa and Maeka, had been murdered.

He said Sebata Poto told him that “’Matlhokomelo has been stabbed with a spear too”.

Chief Lehoko said he rushed to ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s house where he found her seated in the middle of the house supported by her children with blood oozing from her chest, gasping for air.

“I stepped out and went to get airtime, but I found her dead when I returned from the shop,” the chief said.

The case continues.

Tholoana Lesenya

Continue Reading


Opposition fights back



THE opposition is launching a nasty fightback after Prime Minister Sam Matekane defanged their no-confidence motion by roping in new partners to firm up his government.

Matekane’s surprise deal with the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has trimmed the opposition’s support in parliament and thrown their motion into doubt.

But the opposition has now filed another motion that seeks to get Matekane and his MPs disqualified from parliament on account that they were elected when they had business interests with the government.

The motion is based on section 59 of the constitution which disqualifies a person from being sworn-in as an MP if they have “any such interest in any such government contract as may be so prescribed”.

Section 59 (6) describes a government contract as “any contract made with the Government of Lesotho or with a department of that Government or with an officer of that Government contracting as such”.

Prime Minister Matekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) has a history of winning road construction tenders. Other Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MPs, most of whom were in business, had had business dealings with the government.

It is however not clear if the MPs were still doing business with the government at the time of their swearing-in.
Matekane’s MGC Park is housing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is a government institution established by the constitution, getting its funds from the consolidated funds.

The motion was brought by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane who is a key figure in the opposition’s bid to topple Matekane.

The motion appears to be a long shot but should be taken in the context of a political game that has become nasty.
Advocate Rakuoane said the IEC’s tenancy at the MGC is one of their targets.

“The IEC is one of the government departments,” Rakuoane said.

“It is currently unethical that it has hired the prime minister’s building.”

“But after the motion, he will have to cut ties with the IEC or he will be kicked out of parliament.”

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said although the IEC is an independent body, it can still be regarded as part of the government because it gets its funding from the consolidated fund.

The Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM)’s Reverend Tšepo Lipholo, who seconded the motion, said the Matekane-led government “is dominated by tenderpreneurs who have been doing business with the government since a long time ago”.

“Now they have joined politics, they must not do business with the government,” Lipholo said.

He said some of the MPs in the ruling parties are still doing business with the government despite their promises before the election to stop doing that.

“Those who will not abide by the law should be disqualified as MPs,” Lipholo said.

“Basotho’s small businesses are collapsing day-by-day, yet people who are in power continue to take tenders for themselves.”

He applauded the Abia constituency MP Thuso Makhalanyane, who was recently expelled from Matekane’s RFP for rebellion because he withdrew his car from government engagement after he was sworn in as an MP.

“He set a good example by withdrawing his vehicle where it was hired by the government,” Lipholo said.

Rakuoane said during the past 30 years after Lesotho’s return to democratic rule, section 59 of the constitution has not been attended to even when it was clear that some MPs had business dealings with the government.

“This section stops you from entering parliament when doing business with the government. Those who are already members will have to leave,” he said.

Rakuoane said they are waiting for Speaker Tlohang Sekhamane to sign the motion so that the parliament business committee can set a date for its debate.

“The law will also serve to assist ordinary Basotho businesses as they will not compete with the executive,” he said.

“There are many Basotho businesses in business these MPs are in. They must get those tenders instead.”

The new motion comes barely a week after a court application aimed at disqualifying Mokhothu.

The government-sponsored application sought the Constitutional Court to declare Mokhothu unfit to be prime minister because he was convicted of fraud in 2007.

Mokhothu has been suggested as Matekane’s replacement should the motion of no confidence pass in parliament.

Nkheli Liphoto

Continue Reading