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Chasing a culinary dream



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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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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