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Corpse chaos at MKM



MASERU – THERE was chaos at the beleaguered MKM Burial Society last Friday when angry workers deliberately swapped corpses. The workers wanted to sabotage the company and its boss, Simon Thebe-ea-Khale, for not paying their salaries for years.

Corpses that were supposed to go to Mafeteng were put in coffins destined for Leribe. Simon Thebe-ea-Khale was forced to intervene to avoid giving families the wrong corpses.

He spent hours trying to verify the identity of the corpses. In some cases, he had to work with families to get the identities right.

Thebe-ea-Khale confirmed the incident and said he had to call a former employee to help him sort out the corpses after his team of more than 40 went on strike.

“Corpses that were supposed to be in Mafeteng were swapped in the coffins with those of Leribe,” he said.

Thebe-ea-Khale said since he noticed that the employees’ wanted to ruin his reputation, he ordered them not to report for duty.

“I told the employees to go rest at home since they were not ready to work,” he said.

The chaos started on Friday morning after the workers went on strike and refused to help customers.

They used a company car to block the gate to the MKM’s main mortuary in the Maseru Industrial Area. They complained that Thebe-ea-Khale had not paid their salaries for years.

Thebe-ea-Khale said the workers, some of whom are his relatives, agreed to work as volunteers when the company went broke after a bruising and long-drawn legal battle with the Central Bank of Lesotho.

He said he reached the agreement with the workers soon after the company’s buildings, which were its major source of income, were auctioned by the liquidator to pay off its debts to hundreds of thousands of investors and creditors.

Thebe-ea-Khale said he promised to start paying salaries after winning back the properties. The workers, however, accuse Thebe-ea-Khale of going back on his word to help them with small allowances to pay their bills and buy food.

This is the third time this year that MKM workers have downed tools over salaries. In previous incidents, they picketed outside the mortuary and refused to help customers who wanted to collect their dead for burial.

On Friday, the workers took matters further by swapping corpses and blocking the gate. Thebe-ea-Khale said none of the workers wanted to tell him where they had put the car keys.

“They all beat about the bush and never gave me answers,” Thebe-ea-khale said.

He said because families were waiting to get their dead he asked the police and the army to help him open the gate.

“I pinpointed five prime suspects to be interrogated.”

The suspects were taken to the police station for interrogation. He said the car keys were recovered from one of the suspects.

Thebe-ea-Khale said he had information that some of the workers had been paid by rivals to sabotage him. Others, he added, wanted to kill his business after landing jobs elsewhere.

He said he no longer needs the services of all his 40 employees because his business is operating well without them.

The MKM empire collapsed in 2007 after its insurance and investment subsidiaries were closed by the Central Bank of Lesotho for operating without licences.

The Central Bank said the businesses were pyramid schemes that had fleeced thousands of people of their money.

The companies were offering interest rates of as much as 60 percent per annum. By some estimates, the business owed half a billion maloti to about 400 000 people.

Since then, Thebe-ea-Khale has been fighting efforts to liquidate the subsidiaries. He, however, has been at the losing end of those battles.

Yet he maintains that the businesses were genuine and profitable. He sees himself as a victim of political schemes and the jealousy of insurance and banking firms he was outcompeting.

The courts have however ruled that the businesses were illegal and essentially pyramid schemes that were enticing investors with promises of huge but unsustainable interest rates.

The burial society is Thebe-ea-Khale’s only surviving business but it too has been in decline since his troubles started.

The burial society is not getting new members at a time when most of its policies have matured and are no longer attracting premiums.

’Malimpho Majoro


Dead on arrival



My sister delivered a stillborn baby when she was on her way to the clinic,” ’Matemoho Letšela, 23, barely holding back tears.

Letšela says her sister, whose name she withheld, suffered birth-pangs when she was alone at home in Khonofaneng village in Mokhotlong.

She was then rushed down the slopes of a mountain by some passers-by on foot, striding on the slopes of a rocky mountain, crossing deep gorges as she sought to get to the Molika-Liko Health Centre some eight kilometres away.

When she arrived at the clinic, the baby was declared dead on arrival.

Welcome to Mokhotlong, Lesotho’s mountainous region known worldwide for its big and clean diamonds where the people do not have basic services.

Letšela said her sister collapsed when she was on her way to the clinic and was only seen by some passers-by.

By the time passers-by saw her, it was already too late for her and her baby.

She was eight months pregnant. 

“She was still far from the clinic and away from the villages,” Letšela says.

“She had no one to help her until she lost her baby. She was helpless the whole day until it was too late for her to survive,” she says.

 “She had already lost a lot of blood and could not make it to the hospital.”

Letšela shared her sister’s story with thepost during a tour conducted by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to assess the impact of their assistance in Mokhotlong and Quthing districts a fortnight ago.

Letsela pleaded with the government to provide services in Mokhotlong’s hard-to-reach areas to avoid unnecessary deaths like her sister’s.

“My sister was eight months pregnant so the long walking distance might have been the cause of her early delivery and ultimate death,” she says.

She says there are still some villages in her area that are way far from where she stays, villages like Lichecheng where a patient must travel early in the morning, sleep on the way and reach the clinic the following day.

Cars cannot reach those remote areas, she says.

At Letšela’s area, they only have one bus that travels from home to town at 9am and will be back late at 8pm.

Even though they would love to always catch a ride whenever they are going to the clinic, sometimes they just do not have the money.

Letšela is three months pregnant now and says she cannot wait to reach 37 weeks so she can go and stay at the accommodation facilities provided by the clinic.

 “That is the advice from our midwives and I am willing to take that offer,” she says.

“I don’t want what happened to my sister to happen to me.”

When thepost met Letšela at the clinic last week, she had left her place at around 4am walking alone to the clinic and arrived after 10am.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Doctor tampers with corpse



THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns



Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.


The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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