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Curbing stock-theft



MAFETENG – DAILY, widowed and unemployed ’Malerato Mariti wakes up to the fear that the cattle at the core of her livelihood will one day be grabbed by the police.
The cattle belong to her two sons eking a living at construction sites in neighbouring South Africa and the animals are the 57-year-old’s main means of putting food on the table.
But there is a problem. None of the seven cattle is registered as prescribed by the newly introduced livestock marking system and police are on the pounce.
“I do not know what l will do when the police arrive here,” says Mariti in a low voice.

The Ministry of Home Affairs introduced the Livestock Registration, Marking and Information System as part of a broader strategy to curb stock-theft, which mainly happens along the porous border with South Africa. A March 1999 National Livestock Development study showed that stock-theft had “become a national crisis in Lesotho”.
The theft is prevalent between Lesotho’s Qacha’s Nek district and Matatiele in South Africa, and also between Butha-Buthe and Qwa-Qwa and Mokhotlong and Sani Pass. Livestock thieves mainly target cattle and sheep.

Police are impounding livestock not registered under the new system as part of the anti-stock-theft campaign.
While laudable, the campaign has the potential of affecting innocent villagers such as Mariti, whose livelihoods solely depend on livestock that they are unable to register.
The police have been moving from village to village in Thaba-Tšoeu and other Mafeteng villages and other district areas impounding unmarked livestock.
The police say unmarked livestock could be an indication that the keeper might have stolen them. The seized animals are kept at the police camp until the “owner” is located.
For Mariti, her sons who own the cattle rarely have time for the process.

“My sons are not always here at home. And when they come, they take just a few days,” Mariti says, adding that her sons are only able to come on weekends when the livestock registration offices are closed.
Mariti says she is unable to help her sons because they have their own livestock booklets in which their animals have been registered in the old system.
Other people have failed to register their animals because they don’t have the required documentation, say officials.

Maleshoane Mokone, an employee at the registration centre in Mafeteng, says many people who visit the offices have no national IDs.
“This creates a problem on its own because there is no way we can register their animals if they do not have IDs,” says Mokone.
She says they advise such people to go and apply for IDs “to enable them to apply for IDs for their animals too”.

Another challenge, she says, is parents trying to register animals on behalf of their children who work outside the country.
“This is practically impossible because the photo of the owner of animals has to appear on the ID,” says Mokone.
She says at times farmers become angry at the officials.

“To them it appears as if we do not want to assist them when they come here,” says Mokone.
They have now embarked on a campaign to raise awareness among farmers and villagers on the requirements needed to register animals in the new system.
“We organise public gatherings so that the farmers know what to bring when they come to register their animals,” says Mokone.
Home Affairs Deputy Minister Machesetsa Mofomobe says the registration process “is rolling out successfully”.

He says in the past people used to mark their animals according to their clans but this made it difficult to trace stolen animals because of huge numbers of animals with similar clan markings.
The new computer database being created is “exceptional and unique because it will not replicate the information”.

He says if animals from one district are seen elsewhere, they can easily be traced back to the owner.
“The police will simply call the Home Affairs office and ask to whom those animals belong so that they could be checked in the data base,” he says.
Mofomobe says the project is continuous for now but will be phased out at some stage.
He says the livestock population is increasing rapidly, with more than 8 million animals registered so far. The registration process is free of charge and the government says it means business in its quest to eradicate stock-theft.

As part of the campaign, the government has deployed a joint force of police and the army to control animal movement along the country’s borders as part of the campaign.
At times, the campaign has turned violent as livestock thieves resort to extreme measures to beat the government’s campaign.
A soldier on patrol was found dead in Qacha’s Nek and suspicions are that he was attacked and killed by thieves from Matatiele last year.
The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) says it is continuing with investigations.

Recently, heavily armed South African nationals torched homes in a village in Qacha’s Nek and stole an undisclosed number of animals in what was described as a revenge attack after some Basotho from the area had earlier crossed into South Africa to steal animals. Stolen animals are usually sold for ridiculously low prices, with a beast fetching a paltry M2 000 or less, according to information from farmers.
The normal market price ranges between M8 000 and M15 000, depending on the quality of the beast.

It is such ills that the new system aims to eradicate, officials say, urging people to go through the process.
The process can be cumbersome though and involves getting chiefs to write confirmation letters before one endures more processes at the registration office and finally the marking process.
For people such as Mariti, the villager who survives on her sons’ unregistered cattle, it is near-impossible for her to register the animals on her sons’ behalf.
“This process is also strenuous,” Mariti says.  “The government should cut the long bureaucratic procedure because it is affecting us. Our chiefs know us in the villages and they also know our children,” says Mariti.

Majara Molupe


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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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Magistrate saves WILSA boss



A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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