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Bloody clashes rock ABC



MASERU – IT was supposed to have been a routine election to select new members to run the affairs of Lithabaneng constituency in Maseru.
But all hell broke loose on Sunday leaving one man nursing a serious knife wound.
Limamela Ntšeli, 43, was stabbed with a knife twice behind his left arm during the bloody skirmishes that rocked the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.

Ntšeli was rushed to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru.
Several others sustained minor injuries during the disturbances.
The scale of the violence has left the party’s supporters shocked and extremely traumatised.

The Lithabaneng MP, Social Development Minister ’Matebatso Doti is said to be locked in a fierce tussle for the control of the constituency with Montoeli Masoetsa. Masoetsa is said to be angling to replace Doti as the MP in the next election.

As the mob charged at the minister, Doti’s bodyguards were forced to fire warning shots to disperse the violent mob that was baying for the minister’s blood. The crowd also threw stones at Doti.
She however escaped unhurt during the commotion. Doti had to be escorted out of the conference hall by heavily armed police officers from Thamae Police Station.

“My bodyguards say they were afraid that I would be injured,” Doti told thepost on Monday.
“But as trained men they managed to disperse the angry mob and got me out to safety,” she said.
“My worry was that the government car would be stoned but luckily the police arrived just in time.”

Ntšeli told thepost that he is just an ordinary member of the ABC who found himself caught up in a factional war. He said he had come to observe the election process when the altercation ensued.
He said he instinctively jumped in to protect a man who was being attacked with “all sorts of things” when the mob pounced on him, stabbing him twice on the left arm.

He says he also sustained multiple wounds around his head and face.
“The bad wounds are the ones behind my arm,” he said.
Ntšeli declined to comment more on other issues pertaining to the bloody incident saying doing so “might jeopardise my case”.

He said one woman from the same constituency was stabbed on the forehead with a sharp object.
The woman was treated as an outpatient and discharged.
Ntšeli said their constituency had since issued a directive ordering members not to discuss their differences in public.

Incessant marathon disputes within the ABC in Lithabaneng constituency have simmered for years.
Sources within the ABC in the constituency told thepost that there are serious factions within the party.
There is a serious battle for the leadership of the party in the constituency.

Lebohang Karala, who is a councillor for Lithabaneng MMC11, told thepost that their differences within the party date as far back as 2015.
He conceded to the fact that there are two factions within the ABC in Lithabaneng constituency.
He said by virtue of being the councillor, he automatically becomes a committee member of the constituency.
Karala said there is a faction that supports Doti while another is backing Masoetsa.

He said this is the third time that the constituency election had to be abandoned.
Asked what triggered the furore on Sunday, Karala said there are certain provisions within the ABC that had been breached by members in the constituency.

He said there are some ABC members who took the party to court and this is inconsistent with the ABC rules and regulations.
He said their constitution clearly states that their differences should be solved within their party structures.
Karala said the ABC National Executive Committee (NEC) had delegated someone to oversee the election process.
He said that delegate did not have the required credentials to do so.

“We told him that the election could not proceed because certain constitutional provisions had been flouted,” he said.
But he insisted that the voting process should continue.
The councillor said even the police indicated that the election process could not continue because of the volatile situation.
“The situation grew tense every given moment,” Karala said.

The ABC members in attendance exchanged blows, with others agreeing to hold the election while the other group declined to proceed with the voting.
Karala said he was also injured during the fight, although his wounds were minor.
He said they were not anticipating any fight and had been caught off-guard.
Karala said he is “associated with the faction that is against Doti”.

Senior Superintendent Mochekoane Ntšela, the officer commanding Maseru urban, said no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
He said as soon as they have complainants, they will proceed with the cases.
Doti said her good relations with Masoetsa went sour after he lost votes to her in primary elections last year.

Masoetsa was also running for the position of the party candidate in the constituency for the 2017 national election.
“He lost and the Lithabaneng people voted for me. I could see that his supporters were not happy with the results,” Doti said.
“I thought it was just an election fever that would quickly go away but some people for no known reasons kept it alive.”
She said Karala seemed to lead a faction supporting Masoetsa and very soon he started not attending her public meetings despite the fact that she is the constituency MP.

“I started attending the MCC 11 functions with the councillor for MCC 12 because the MCC 11 councillor (Karala) was not supporting me,” she said.
She said Karala, who was the constituency chairman, missed several committee meetings and “according to our rules he had to be struck off and this did not sit well with a number of his followers”.

Doti said two branches of the constituency, Lithabaneng and Ha-Matala, have a large pool of supporters backing Karala and Masoetsa.
Lithabaneng constituency has 12 branches.
Yesterday the ABC’s national executive committee held a meeting with the two factions to resolve the dispute.

Majara Molupe

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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

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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

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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

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