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A new approach for the textile sector



Own Correspondent

ROMA-SEBABATSO Sentšo and Senate Mpaki at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub are bringing a new look to Lesotho’s textile industry.
Several things will separate their business to similar ones in the local markets.

“We are focusing on mass production and localisation of our products,” they say.
“And we have seen an opening in the market. That is why we are developing cushions, potholders, dishwasher cloths (lifatuku), swabs, napkins, curtains, table runners, table clothes, pencil cases and so on, in our catalogue.”

These are the things which few people, if any, are making in Lesotho.
To really understand the approach, these two ladies under the supervision of Papali Maqalika-Mokobori, you need to know a thing or two about Lesotho’s textile industry.

That industry will amaze you with its yawning gaps between the local small-scale producers and the mostly international large-scale producers.
Throw a stone randomly and you are likely to hit a very tiny clothing business, usually manned by one or two people in Lesotho.
And throw a stone at Ha-Thetsane or Maputsoe and you are likely to hit a Chinese or Taiwanese clothing factory hiring between 500 to 2 000 workers.
Why the difference?
Have you ever wondered why the foreign investors will use your factory shells, your machines and your people to make clothes and then ship the bulk of profits to their home countries?
“It is not as if Basotho can’t make quality textile products on a large scale,” Sebabatso and Senate said.
“It is that we have been content with the boitšokoli (hustling) approach, something our Chinese-Taiwanese brothers have long learned to throw out of the window.”
Here is an example.
Think of a Mosotho educated in textile science or fashion design from a local university.

When she graduates, she starts making very nice clothing items and begins taking orders.
What happens when orders pile up?
“We normally won’t hire anyone to assist,” they said, “rather, we work ourselves to death, to a point where more orders threaten, rather than strengthen, our businesses.”
That is a boitšokoli mentality.

Business growth is just not in the DNA of such approach to business.
Government officials and cheerleaders don’t help either.
“You must be self-employed,” they say.
One local school even prides itself on producing what it calls ‘self-employers.’

But the reality is, taxpayer’s money is spent to educate these folks so that they can employ both themselves and, for goodness’ sake, others.
When you were schooled in fashion design or textile science, your job is not so much to make clothing yourself as it is to design, supervise and even control quality of the products.

By all means, the sooner you let the unskilled people be the ones on the machines, the better.
“In line with this thinking, we are on the verge of introducing mass production, which we studied as students of BSc Consumer Science at NUL,” said the twosome.

In mass production, one person’s job is to install a zip, another one’s is to install a sleeve, and another one focuses on a pocket.
No single person is given the responsibility of making the whole item.

The two also say that after years of observation, they have also come to the conclusion that the local textile industry is focusing on clothing only.
“Yet in Lesotho, we buy all kinds of textile products from pillow cases to laptop bags, none of which are made in Lesotho.”
“Our mission is to enter that unchartered territory and try our luck,” they said.

As they make all these things, they think localising their products such that they have Basotho traditional or, at minimum, African feel, will work.
“If you visit India, you will find textiles that have an Indian feel. When you wear them, we associate you with India. Why can’t we have apparels that can be associated with Lesotho without losing their international appeal?” they inquired.

That is why they are exploring the application of Seshoeshoe and African print in their apparels.
The duo said they are forever grateful for exploring these options within the confines of the NUL Innovation Hub, which they describe as the “best place they could ever be in.”
Listen to their reasons.

“We have just talked about the importance of mass production that will help us to throw away the boitšokoli mentality. That is at the heart of the NUL Innovation Hub’s philosophy. We are made to understand that principle here, above anything else.”

They also think that access to their former teachers and access to laboratories while they are at the hub is super.
“When you are here, it’s like you are a student again, except that now you are a student who is constantly producing something. We can study our materials for their absorbance, durability, friction, flammability, water absorption, you name them.”

“Sometimes we are like, does our government understand what a transformational institution the NUL Innovation Hub really is in terms of its potential to create jobs?”
“If it does, then, why is it watching?”

Own Correspondent

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Doctor tampers with corpse



THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns



Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.


The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss



A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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