Connect with us


Bloody ‘battle’ in Matelile



MASERU – THREE killed in cold blood. Two gravely injured. A hut and a car burnt to ashes. Five houses left with broken windows.

And grudges that will last for generations.

That is the carnage and damage left in Matelile’s Ha-Tebelo village following an attack by a mob of men from the neighbouring Ha-Ramosoeu last Saturday.

Ha-Tebelo residents now live in fear.

The horror started at an initiation graduation ceremony in Ha-Tebelo when a former police officer, from the same village, gifted a gun to an initiate who was leading the graduation songs (mangae).

The initiation school is in Ha-Tebelo but also had initiates from Ha-Ramosoeu. Mothofeela Billy, the 79-year-old owner of the initiation school, said the members of the initiation committee stood to stop the young man from receiving the gun.

Area councillor Hanyane Ramantšane who is also the chairman of the initiation committee in the area, says he stood up to reprimand the former cop.

“He did it again with the second boy who was singing and I chastised him again for this behaviour,” Ramantšane said.

He said it was at this moment that a man approached the former officer and tried to wrestle the gun from him. The two men started fighting with sticks.

Ramantšane said when the former cop lost the fight his son pulled a gun and shot the man who had defeated him.

“He shot him in the stomach and the man fell on the security fence near the gate.”

Ramantšane said the ex-cop, his son and other men fled the ceremony in a white Toyota 4×4 van. The shot man, who was admitted at Scott Hospital in Morija, was from Ha-Ramosoeu.

Ramantšane said shortly after the shooting, men from Ha-Ramosoeu descended on Ha-Tebelo in several cars and started attacking people. The Toyota 4×4 van that had fled the ceremony had disappeared.

The angry mob soon set its sights on a similar vehicle whose owner had nothing to do with the shooting or the ceremony.

The vehicle belonged to Lehana Ntaote, a civil servant who is said to have gone to the village for his farming business.

The mob then started shooting at Ntaote who, seeing that he was under attack, tried speeding. He however could not outrun the several vehicles that were in hot pursuit. Ntaote abandoned his vehicle and started running through the village.

Mareka Mareka is the villager who hid Ntaote in his house.

“I called him and said he should not run to any place outside the village because there are open fields,” Mareka said.

“I told him to enter my house and instructed my wife to lock him inside.”

The men from Ha-Ramosoeu arrived at Mareka’s house a few minutes later and demanded to search his house.

“I asked them to tell me the name of the man they were looking for, insisting that there was nobody in the house,” Meraka said.

“I said they would not open any of my houses without my approval or else they should kill me first.”

The mob left Mareka’s house and unleashed terror on the villagers as they searched for Ntaote whom they mistakenly thought was one of the men who had fled the ceremony.

’Makhotso Molise, whom Ntaote abandoned his van next to her house when he set off on foot, said the mob was cursing as they torched the car.

As the vehicle was consumed in flames, the mob accused Molise of hiding the men they were looking for in her houses.

When she refused to open her house the mob smashed several windows with stones. Molise, 43, was in the house with her children, including one who uses a wheelchair when the men attacked.

“They were using obscene and vulgar language.”

She says one of the stones narrowly missed her head as she was peeping through a window. They also smashed the windows of her Toyota van that was parked in the yard.

Meanwhile smoke was billowing from the rondavel she uses as a storeroom.

“They said they wanted a boy who had been hidden in the hut.”

Molise says the attack on her house lasted three hours.

When they eventually came out of the house, after the police and the army arrived, they found the hut’s thatched roof engulfed in flames but they managed to save some farming equipment. She said the attack reminded her of 2021 when her 19- year-old son was fatally shot at their home.

Another victim of the attack, ’Mahlompho Motheo, 45, was in her yard when she saw the mob approaching Ntaote’s house.

Motheo said as soon as the vehicle was in flames she screamed and ran into her house. She drew the attention of some of the men who started approaching her house. Motheo said she and her family hid under the table as stones flew in through the windows.

“The first stone came followed by the second and third. I thought I was dying,” she said, adding that she only came out of the house when the army arrived.

The next victim was the 76-year-old Tatiso Soole who has a hearing impairment.

Soole said he did not hear what the mob was looking for when they approached him. They hit him with stones and sticks, leaving him for dead.

He was only discovered on the next day sprawled a few paces from his kraal and was taken to Scott Hospital.

“I don’t know what happened, I still don’t know what they were looking for,” Soole said.

Their next victim was a 19-year-old woman who the men hit with sticks after she said she had not hidden anyone in her house.

A villager who witnessed the attack said the men were about to descend on her with sticks but one of them said they should stop because he believed the woman.

“That is what saved the poor girl from being killed,” the witness said.

The mob then went to the Ha-Tebelo area chief Koali Seeiso’s house and insulted him.

“These children insulted me with my mother,” Chief Seeiso said.

He believes that the attacks were pre-planned because there was already tension at the ceremony even before the shooting incident.

“There were squabbles already,” the chief said.

Billy, the initiation school owner, said when the mob arrived at his home they wanted to kill him as well as his traditional doctor, instructor and nephew.

“I managed to escape through another door and took refuge at the chief’s house,” Billy said.

When he later went back to his home he found his son, 37-year-old Moroa Billy, dead.

There was also another man who was writhing in pain in a corrugated iron shack adjacent to Billy’s main house.

They rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.

Billy said the man, whose name he didn’t know, had wounds all over his body.

“This child whom I did not even know has died too,” Billy said.

“I’m told his home was in Ribaneng and he had come to the graduation ceremony.”

Chief Seeiso said the traditional doctor reported that he ran away with one graduate and hid among the trees on the slopes of the Matelile mountain.

The initiation instructor said he took the rest of the boys and hid in the village.

“I cannot say more but I escaped through my own wisdom,” he said.

Billy’s daughter-in-law said some of the men in the mob were wearing blankets associated with a famo music gang.

Chief Seeiso said many of the gangsters in his village are known to support the Seakhi gang which has its headquarters in Thabana-Morena.

“The other gang often comes here announcing that those who wear the letlama blanket (Seakhi) are women,” the chief said.

He believes the Saturday violence welled from the rivalry of famo gangs rather than the incident at the ceremony.

Matelile is the home of Terene, the largest of the famo gangs.

Ramantšane, who is a councillor, said the incident at the ceremony “just triggered what the Ha-Ramosoeu people were waiting for”.

“They wanted to cause a fight in the village but we had successfully denied them any such opportunity because of how we expertly run the whole ceremony,” Ramantšane said.

He said the ex-cop’s gun present was just a smokescreen.

Ramantšane blamed the police and the army for delaying to come when they were called.

“I invited the police on Friday during the day and we agreed that they would be here for three days but they were with us for only one day,” he said.

Mareka, who saved Ntaote’s life, said soldiers, who have a post just over a kilometre from Ha-Tebelo, “could take less than 30 minutes on foot coming here”.

“I fail to understand what took them so long to come when I called telling them that the entire village was under attack and people were being killed,” Mareka said.

Mareka, who is leading the village crime prevention group, said it took over two hours for the soldiers who were travelling in a van to come to their aid.

Chief Seeiso said the soldiers who arrived at his home “were visibly drunk”.

“One of them even spoke in English saying ‘I don’t care’, perhaps thinking that I did not understand English,” he said.

Chief Seeiso said the third victim of the violence was a man but he doesn’t know if he was shot or beaten.

“I arranged that he be taken to hospital and he was declared dead on arrival,” he said.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed the incident but said he didn’t know if any of the suspects were arrested.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola said the soldiers in the area had to abandon other activities to deal with the violence in Ha-Tebelo. He said soldiers were not at their camp near the village when the incident happened.

“It is true that we got there late because we had attended to other places in the area,” Lt Col Lekola said, adding that when they got there they managed to put the situation under control.

He said incidents of violence and other crimes have reduced since the army was deployed in the area.

“Guns were common here. We had confiscated a lot of them,” he said.

Majara Molupe & Caswell Tlali

Continue Reading


MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

Continue Reading


Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading