Connect with us


Breaking barriers for the deaf



BONGIWE Buzi was 17 and about to write her Form E examinations when her life was upended.


One day she woke up terribly sick.

She was admitted to a hospital where doctors delivered the terrible news: she had a type of meningitis that causes loss of hearing, speech and vision permanently.
The next few weeks were unbearable.


“I spent a month bedridden at a hospital, unable to talk, to see, to hear or do anything,” Buzi recalls.

“Doctors were confused too and they did not know if I would heal or die.”


She was transferred to Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein.


“Doctors then realised that my skull had cracked so maybe it affected my ears, eyes and mouth.”


After weeks of treatment, Buzi partly recovered her vision and speech but her hearing was completely gone. Buzi had to adjust to a new life without hearing voices she had heard for the first 17 years of her life. She had to learn a new way of communicating with the world.


Her voice is sometimes hoarse, deep or high-pitched and it can change in one sentence, which she says irritates people she communicates with.
But Buzi, now 44, did not allow her disability to determine her future.


Born and raised in Quthing, Buzi says she has now made peace with her disability although she sometimes gets irritated when she cannot communicate with people the way she would like.

Thanks to her friend Mamello Lesoetsa, Buzi learnt sign language and enrolled at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where she graduated with a diploma in counselling.

Buzi says when she enrolled the NUL’s management said it would be difficult to teach her because of her disability.


“The school management asked me how I would learn yet I am deaf. I proposed that I would lip-read lecturers but they refused.”


“My interpreter (Lesoetsa) heard my story and volunteered to apply to do the same course as mine to help me with school work.”


Lesoetsa was her interpreter in the class.
The university hired another interpreter for her, ’Malesaoana Mohale.


Despite Lesoetsa and Mohale’s help, it was still a colossal task for Buzi to sail through, especially because losing the sense of hearing was a new thing to her.

She was still learning how to adapt to her new situation and faced dealing with lecturers who, much as they were willing to help her, were not fully equipped to teach deaf students.


Buzi became aware that she needed clear schedules and regular, collaborative meetings with her lecturers as an important part of her academic progress.

Much as Lesoetsa and Mohale were helping, their lives had to be a threesome intertwined as they had to be always available in class to assist her even when they had personal, private reasons to be absent.


They had sacrificed their freedoms to assist her with a complete understanding of what the lecturers had said to ensure that she was on the same page with other students.


She was attending a university that tried hard but was incapable of providing assistive technology such as interactive whiteboards, video remote interpreting, chat rooms, strobe lights, digital pen technology, closed captioning on videos, infra-red systems, hearing aid compatible, computer assisted note taking, ASL videos for testing materials, alert systems such as vibrating systems, and alarms.

All she had were her interpreters in the classroom.


“I had a few challenges while at the NUL because the university was very supportive,” she says, however.


“One of the challenges was that I failed the computer skills course for the first time because my lecturer was not aware of how best he could teach me,” she says.


“It was difficult for me to perform the task at the same time looking at my interpreter, meaning it was a very competitive task with hearing students who could grab information easily while focusing on typing instructions given to them by the lecturer.”


Buzi says she is happy that Lesoetsa passed with distinction regardless of how difficult the task was for her.


“Also my family was very supportive during my studies, especially my 76-year-old mother who is the best fashion designer for Xhosa dresses,” she says.

“The importance of sign language should be valued.”


After that, she joined the National Association of the Deaf Lesotho (NADL), where she is now its director.
Later she went to the University of Cape Town (UCT) where she graduated with a degree in Disability Studies, and ultimately went for a Master’s Degree in the same course.

Buzi, a mother of two children, says she admires deaf community’s work.


“I struggled and did not lose hope and I graduated,” she says.
“Now I am still working and also a part-time lecturer at the National University of Lesotho.”


She says when her children learn basic sign language, they can tell her when other people in the streets are talking to her.
She says, communication is still a barrier.


“I want to advocate breaking boundaries but some people do not want to learn how to communicate with us,” she says.


She says her passion is to work with the deaf community to motivate them to reach their goals.


Relebohile Tšepe



City Council bosses up for fraud



THREE senior Maseru City Council (MCC) bosses face charges of fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering.

Town clerk Molete Selete and consultant Molefe Nthabane appeared in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

City engineer Matsoso Tikoe did not appear as he was said to be out of the country. He will be arraigned when he returns.

They are charged together with Kenneth Leong, the project manager of SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture, the company that lost the M379 million Mpilo Boulevard contract in January.

The joint venture made up of two Chinese companies, Shanxi Construction Investment Group (SCIG) and Shanxi Mechanization Construction Group (SMCG), and local partner Tim Plant Hire (TIM), has also been charged.

Selete and Nthabane were released on bail of M5 000 and surety of M200 000 each. Leong was granted bail of M10 000 and surety of M400 000 or property of the same value.

The charges are a culmination of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) investigation that has been going on for the past months or so.

The prosecution says Selete, Nthabane, Tikoe, and Leong acted in concert as they intentionally and unlawfully abused the functions of their offices by authorising an advance payment of M14 million to a joint-venture building the Mpilo Boulevard.

An advance payment guarantee is a commitment issued by a bank to pay a specified amount to one party of a contract on-demand as protection against the risk of the other party’s non-performance.

The prosecution says the payment was processed after the company had provided a dubious advance payment guarantee. It says the officials knew that the guarantee was fake and therefore unenforceable.

As revealed by thepost three weeks ago, SCIG and SMCG were responsible for providing the payment guarantee as lead partners in the joint venture.

The prosecution says the MCC was required by law to make advance payment after SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture submitted a guarantee as per the international standards on construction contracts.

It alleges that the MCC has now lost the M14 million paid to SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture because of the fake advanced guarantee.

thepost has seen minutes of meetings in which officials from the joint venture admitted to MCC officers that the advance payment guarantee was dubious.

SCIG-SMCG-TIM kept promising to provide a genuine guarantee but never did. Yet the MCC officials did not report the suspected fraud to the police or take any action against the company.

It was only in January this year that the MCC cancelled the contract on the basis that the company had failed to provide a genuine guarantee.

Despite receiving the advance payment SCIG and SMCG refused to pay TIM Joint Venture for the initial work.

SCIG and SMCG, the lead partners in the joint venture, are reportedly suing the MCC to restore the contract. Officials from TIM Plant Hire however say they are not aware of their partners’ lawsuit against the MCC.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Scott fights for free lawyer



DOUBLE-MURDER convict Lehlohonolo Scott is fighting the government to pay a lawyer to represent him in his appeal.
Scott, serving two life sentences for murdering Kamohelo Mohata and Moholobela Seetsa in 2012, says his efforts to get a state-sponsored lawyer have been repeatedly frustrated by the Registrar of the High Court, Advocate ’Mathato Sekoai.
He wants to appeal both conviction and sentence.
He has now filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to compel Advocate Sekoai to appoint a lawyer to represent him.
He tells the court that he is representing himself in that application because the Registrar has rejected his request to pay his legal fees or appoint a lawyer for him.
People who cannot fund their own legal costs can apply to the Registrar for what is called pro deo, legal representation paid for by the state.
Scott says Sekoai has told him to approach Legal Aid for assistance.
The Legal Aid office took a year to respond to him, verbally through correctional officers, saying it does not communicate directly with inmates.
The Legal Aid also said he doesn’t qualify to be their client.
“I was informed that one Mrs Papali, if I recall the name well, who is the Chief Legal Aid counsel, had said that Legal Aid does not communicate with inmates so she could not write back to me,” Scott says.
“Secondly, they represent people in minor cases. Thirdly, they represent indigent people of which she suggested I am not one of them.”
“Fourthly, there are no prospects of success in my case hence they won’t assist me.”
He says the Legal Aid’s fifth reason was that he has been in jail for a long time.
Scott is asking the High Court to set aside Sekoai’s decision and order her to facilitate pro deo services for him, saying her decision was “irregular, irrational, and unlawful”.
He argues that the Registrar’s role was to finance his case to finality, meaning up to the Court of Appeal.
The Registrar insists that the arrangement was to provide him a lawyer until his High Court trial ended.
Scott says his lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, who was paid by the state, had promised to file an appeal a day after his sentencing but he did not.
He argues that the Registrar did not hear him but arbitrarily decided to end pro deo.
Scott says he wrote to Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase in 2018 soon after his conviction and sentencing seeking assistance but he never received any response.
Later, he wrote to Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane in November 2020 and he received a response through Sekoai who rejected his request.
Scott tells the High Court that he managed to apply to the Court of Appeal on his own but the Registrar later told him, through correctional officers, that “the Court of Appeal does not permit ordinary people to approach it”.
He argues that “where justice or other public interest considerations demand, the courts have always departed from the rules without any problem”.
Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Army ordered to pay up



THE Ombudsman has asked parliament to intervene to force the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to compensate families of people killed by soldiers.
Advocate Tlotliso Polaki told parliament, in two damning reports on Monday, that the LDF is refusing to compensate the family of Lisebo Tang who was shot dead by soldiers near the former commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s home in 2014.

The LDF, she said, is also refusing to compensate the family of Molapo Molapo who was killed by a group of soldiers at his home in Peka, Ha-Leburu in 2022.

Advocate Polaki wrote the LDF in January last year saying it should pay Tang’s mother, Makhola Tang, M300 000 “as a reasonable and justifiable redress for loss of support”.

The Tang family claim investigation started in February 2022 and the LDF responded that it “had undertaken the responsibility for funeral expenses and other related costs”.

Advocate Polaki investigated whether the LDF could be held accountable for Tang’s death and whether his family should be compensated while the criminal case is pending.

She found that the soldiers were “acting within the scope of their employment to protect the army commander and his family” when they killed Tang.

Soldiers killed Tang in Lithabaneng while she was in a parked car with her boyfriend at what the army termed “a compromising spot” near the commander’s residence.

The three soldiers peppered the vehicle with a volley of shots, killing Tang and wounding the boyfriend.

Advocate Polaki found that the army arranged to pay for the funeral costs and to continue buying groceries and school needs for Tang’s daughter.

The LDF, however, kept this for only four years but abruptly stopped.

When asked why it stopped, the army said “there is a criminal case pending in court”.

The army also said it felt that it would be admitting guilt if it compensated the Tang’s family.

The Ombudsman said “a civil claim for pecuniary compensation lodged is not dependent on the criminal proceedings running at the same time”.

“The LDF created a legitimate but unreasonable expectation and commitments between themselves and the complainant which had no duration attached thereto and which showed a willingness to cooperate and work harmoniously together,” Advocate Polaki found.

“The LDF was correct in withdrawing such benefit in the absence of a clear policy guideline or order to continue to offer such benefit or advantage,” she said.

“However, she should have been consulted first as the decision was prejudicial to her interest.”

She said the army’s undertaking “fell short of a critical element of duration and reasonability”.

Tang was a breadwinner working at Pick ’n Pay Supermarket as a cleaner earning M2 000 a month.

Her daughter, the Ombudsman said, is now in grade six and her school fees alone had escalated to M3 200 per year.

She said an appropriate redress should be premised on her family’s loss of income and future loss of support based on her salary and the prejudice suffered by her mother and daughter.

She said M300 000 is “a reasonable and justifiable redress for loss of support”.

In Molapo’s case, Advocate Polaki told parliament that the LDF refused to implement her recommendations to compensate his two daughters.

The complainant is his father, Thabo Joel Molapo.

The Ombudsman told the army in August last year that it should pay the girls M423 805 “for the negligent death of their father”.

Advocate Polaki said despite that the criminal matter is before the court, “it is established that the Ombudsman can assert her jurisdiction and make determinations on the complaint”.

Molapo, 32, was brutally murdered by a soldier in Peka in December 2020.

Molapo had earlier fought with the soldier and disarmed him.

The soldier, the Ombudsman found, rushed to Mokota-koti army post to request backup to recover his rifle. When he returned with his colleagues, they found him hiding in his house. The soldier then shot Molapo.

The LDF, the Ombudsman said, conceded that the soldier killed Molapo while on duty and that he had been subjected to internal disciplinary processes.

“The LDF is bound by the consequences of the officer’s actions who was negligent and caused Molapo’s death,” she said.

She found that after Molapo was killed, army officers and the Minister of Defence visited his family and pledged to pay his children’s school fees. They also promised to hire one of his relatives who would “cater for the needs of the deceased’s children going forward”.

The LDF, she said, has now reneged on its promises saying its “recruitment policy and legal considerations did not allow for such decision to be implemented”.

Molapo’s father told the Ombudsman that the LDF said “the undertakings were not implementable and were made by the minister at the time just to console the family”.

All the payments in the two cases, the Ombudsman has asked parliament, should be made within three months.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading