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Chasing a culinary dream

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MASERU – When she is not studying, Leetoane Sekokotoana, popularly known as Lilly, is making chilli sauces, yoghurt, and ice cream and recently ventured into mayonnaise production. She reckons her love for cooking and the desire to experience new things gave birth to her hustle, which started with just one bottle of sauce.

“I then started making some different sauces,” said the 23-year-old who grew up in Mafeteng, Tšakholo.

Conditions were “pretty bad” as she grew up without a father who died when she was only 11-months-old. Her mother died when she was nine.

“From there it became very difficult for me because I had to start fending for myself as my siblings were still very young at that time,” she recalled.

Lilly said her background shaped her thinking as a young woman because she learned to work hard to survive. At some point, she said she would sell peaches to her schoolmates.

“I had to make sure that I had something to eat and meet all my basic needs, including uniform when I was in high school. That is why I do a lot of things all at once because I have to survive on my own.”

Although her support system wasn’t that strong, she said she had people who helped her survive the difficult phase.

She thanked her then teacher, Mokoena Ramalohlanye, who would pay for her school trips and other things that required money.

“He helped me a lot and I think he is partly the reason I survived high school. I never missed a school trip because of him.

“I don’t know how he did it but every time when there was a school trip and he would offer to pay because he knew my situation at home.

“I stayed alone at the time but I had friends — Nthabeleng Maphatšoe, Puseletso Nteso, Konosoang Matabane and Tabile who also helped. I would eat at their place a lot of times. They would share what they had with me as I hardly had money for food,” said Lilly.

Currently studying Social Work at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), Lilly says it is difficult to balance work and studies.

“It’s not easy at all but I try.”

She says she always wanted to be an entrepreneur “and my mother is sorely the reason I wanted to be my own boss. I grew up around her hustle and she was my role model and I am honestly content with my choice.”

“So I am chasing both my dreams and hopefully one day I can look back and say it wasn’t easy but I managed.”

Her passion, she says, was learnt from her late mother who owned a shop that sold fast food and beer, including traditional brew.

“I would sit and watch her sometimes and I think those lessons were imprinted onto my mind. I learnt how to make chilli sauce from her. All I did was improve it and learned to make more things through experiments. My strength comes from her as she did a lot of things all at once.”

Lilly is also into event management, mainly organising girls’ trips to different places or meet-ups where women share life experiences.
She plans to expand her business dubbed Lillycious.

“Nothing makes me happier than being a business woman and creating employment. I just want to see the Lillycious sauces business grow bigger and better,” said Lilly, whose wish is to open her own place.

“I really want to own property for my business. This is important because customers should not struggle to locate me.”

She says her major challenge is “a continuous illness” that affects her business as sometimes she fails to deliver.

“My illness puts me straight into bed and worse, some of my customers don’t understand.”

She says being an entrepreneur is emotionally draining.

“Not being able to meet my targets sometimes . . . it doesn’t sit well with me as it affects the goals which I want to achieve,” said, adding that she works with Tebello Seliane.

“He is very helpful. Without him, I don’t know if I would survive because he makes sure that there are enough ingredients and he delivers my sauces.”

Her sister, Moliehi, has been helpful with errands and delivering some sauces to different customers too.

“I have a very strong support system now. My sisters, partner and friends are a big part of that system. Sometimes they help with deliveries, filling the bottles or chopping the vegetables I use.”

She said social media has been a very powerful tool as people share her work.

“They are very supportive as they even criticize my sauce, helping me to improve.”

“I used to produce 10 bottles without stickers but now I am doing over 70 bottles with stickers too. The business grew so rapidly that it shocked me. But, I failed to maintain its growth due to my illness,” said Lilly, expressing gratitude to three loyal customers that have stuck with her from the start.

“They understand me unlike others who mistake my illness for laziness. Some think when I am ill it’s because I don’t want to deliver and pretend to be sick.”
She said her desire to be successful motivates her to soldier on despite the challenges.

‘’All I want is to see myself as an established business woman supplying not only local customers but penetrating the international market. I strive to be that woman who made it regardless of the challenges life threw at me.”

She added that “hunger motivates me. I don’t want to go to bed on an empty stomach when I have hands.” She said competition “is tight”.

“But I do my best. Building and maintaining a healthy customer base helps even though it is not always easy.”

She says selling original recipes makes her business unique.

“One cannot find my sauces anywhere. I make my own from scratch and that will always be my weapon,” she said.

‘Mapule Motsopa

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BNP wins rescission order against SG

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MASERU – THE Basotho National Party (BNP) this week successfully applied for a rescission of a court order that would have seen the party’s secretary general, Thato Lethobane, being awarded M126 000. Lethobane’s case will now be heard again at the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) on Monday.

The party raised technical legal reasons that prompted the cancellation of the award that ordered the party to pay Lethobane for the time he did not receive his salary since his suspension.

Lethobane was suspended in October last year after he was accused of embezzling party funds and he asked the DDPR to order the party to pay him from October last year to April this year.

The BNP deputy secretary, Moeketsi Hanyane, who is holding forte at the party’s administration, told thepost last night that “Lethobane’s glow was short-lived and was wrong in the first place”.

“The DDPR award against us will not see the light of day because Lethobane got suspended for two years after we discovered that he stole the party’s funds,” Hanyane said.

“A thief is a thief and we cannot allow him to claim monies he is unworthy of,” he said.

“We have opened a case against him at the police and he cannot come around and say we owe him.”

Hanyane said Lethobane was suspended for two years so that after that period, if he still loved wanted to be part of the party, he could come and participate in its affairs again.

“The suspension was not meant to put him aside for a while to allow investigations but it is a punishment for what we found on him,” he said.

Hanyane said Lethobane is not owed anything for that period because he is officially out of office as a result of the punishment he got from the party not because he was suspended pending investigations.

He said the BNP did not defend itself at the DDPR and the arbitrator ruled in favour of Lethobane in default.

“We did not go to the DDPR on technical issues and we have since applied for and acquired a rescission of the award,” he said.

Lethobane declined to get into the details of his case with the BNP but only confirmed that he had won an award at the DDPR.

“After I realised how much they owed me I decided to go to labour and successfully claimed my payment,” he said.

“The case judgment was done in my favor, even though I will not discuss that issue much.”

The party pays its secretary general M18 000 per month.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Killer police investigated

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MASERU – PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro has set up a special team to investigate police officers who killed a student during a protest at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) last week. Majoro’s decision comes as pressure mounts on the government and the police to identify the officers who pulled the trigger and bring them to justice.

The police killed Kopano Makutoane and seriously injured six more students on Thursday last week during a strike over their stipends that were not paid in full. Makutoane was shot with multiple live bullets in the face.

Police Minister Lepota Sekola, Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli and Development Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, confirmed that a team has been set up but were reluctant to give further details. thepost has been told that the police have zeroed in on 12 police officers who were part of the team that responded to the protest.

The police management is said to be close to suspending some of the officers and opening a murder case against them. Their names cannot, however, be revealed because they have not been officially identified and charged.

Majoro visited the Makutoane family last week and promised justice for their slain son. The strike was triggered by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s delay to pay students their monthly stipends.

Those who received the allowances only got M450 instead of their usual monthly stipend of M1 100. Several eyewitnesses and victims told thepost that the police conducted raids targeting NUL students even after the protesters had dispersed. Sello Khechane, a second-year student, said the police fired live ammunition at the protesters.

“We started fleeing the place and did not even realise that one of us was shot near the gate,” Khechane said.

One of the injured students said about 20 police officers knocked at her rented room when she was sleeping, dragged her out and beat her with sticks and truncheons.

“I was still wearing my gown and was not even part of the protest,” she said.

Another girl who had visited her brother was caught in the crossfire as police went on the rampage.

“I was watching a movie when I saw a mob of police approaching the door and asking all of us in the house to come out,” she said.

She said the police used sticks and kicked her.

“I tried to convince them that I am not a student there, but they refused to listen,” she said.

The Social Development Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, said he immediately intervened when he was informed of the disagreement between the Students’ Representative Council and the NMDS management over the stipends.

“The school told us that there was a problem as students walked out of examination rooms.”

He also said the NMDS told him that there is a law that says students should not get full amounts when their school days are cut short during a month.

“We made a decision that students should get full amounts,” he said.

He said the students were notified that they would get full amounts but continued with the strike.

“I am sorry that one student lost his life.” The incident has sparked an outcry from different political parties.

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader and former Vice-Chancellor of the NUL, Professor Nqosa Mahao, condemned the killing saying it was the third time police have used force during protests and ended up taking lives.

“We are very saddened and embarrassed by this act,” Professor Mahao said.

He said they condemn the police actions that led to the death of the student, saying the behaviour by police shows that Basotho’s lives are not safe. He recalled that in 2009 the police shot a student during protests.

“They shot Tumelo Mohlomi in 2017, she was also shot by the police,” Professor Mahao said, adding that the police officers involved in the incident were not charged.

He blamed the conflicts on the NMDS management “that does not do its job correctly”. The Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane, met NUL students near the campus on Tuesday.

“We condemn that behaviour, it was uncalled for, it was not necessary,” Matekane said.

He said the police’s job is to protect and save people, not to kill people as they did or do.

“When promised sponsorship, we are expecting you to get them as promised,” he said.

“It does not make sense that someone can carry a gun and shoot an unarmed student.”

He also pledged to provide the students with transport to Quthing where Makutoane will be laid to rest.

“We will make sure that those who were affected get the necessary counselling and also help them,” he said.

The NUL management also condemned the killing and injuring of other students. In a statement, the university said it was aggrieved by “the plan by the NMDS to prorate the student’s allowance for June 2022”. The university pleaded with the students to remain calm, adding that it has started visiting all the affected families.

Staff Reporter

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Mafeteng magistrates’ court records burnt

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MASERU – A fire gutted the records section of the Mafeteng Magistrate’s Court last week. The police suspect it was an act of arson. Thousands of crucial case records were destroyed.

This could affect hundreds of cases that were pending in the court. Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed the incident, saying investigations have started but no arrests have been made.

“But our preliminary investigations show that the court was intentionally set on fire,” S/Supt Mopeli said.

“Important court documents have been set alight together with some chairs and a table.”

A source close to the case told thepost that a container of petrol was found outside a broken window. The guard was not at work when the incident happened.

In 2010 computers containing information on cars registered in Maseru and Leribe were burnt in a fire that police suspected was deliberately started to destroy records and cover up corruption.

The Integrated Financial Management System computers, National Transport Information System server, computers, and a printer were destroyed.

The incident happened as the police were investigating a syndicate that was illegally registering stolen cars.

In 2019 a fire at the Ministry of Health’s head office destroyed computers and records.

Although ministry officials said the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault, suspicions of foul play lingered on.

Majara Molupe

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