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Flying King liquidated



MASERU-FLYING King, the troubled second-hand vehicle agent, is being liquidated and its customers might never get their vehicles.
Court documents seen by thepost reveal that the company is heavily indebted to a shareholder, customers and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).

Fingers have been pointed at Joel Mohale, the director, who is accused of “recklessly spending money for personal gain and setting up other businesses”.
Mohale is also accused of spending money on dinners with politicians and holidays while the company failed to deliver cars to clients, pay taxes and service its loans.

At the same time, relations between the shareholders have also soured amid scurrilous counter accusations.
Flying King’s troubles appear to have started in 2018 when it failed to pay for the clearance and transportation of clients’ vehicles from Durban to Lesotho.
Flying King owed South Africa’s African Vehicle Clearance Specialist (Avecs) M400 000 for the clearance and transportation of vehicles clients bought from BE Forward in Japan.

Mohale is accused of allowing that debt to accumulate while spending clients’ money on personal projects and financing his lifestyle instead of paying Avecs.
Sometime in mid-2018 Avecs loaned Flying King M400 000 so it could deliver clients’ vehicles. At the same time Kuben Pillay, Avecs’ director, also bought 51 percent of Flying King in a deal that was supposed to salvage the company.

Court documents however show that Mohale remained the Flying King’s managing director and was in charge of its finances.
The loan doesn’t seem to have helped Flying King for long because it continued to struggle to pay Avecs.
In court papers filed earlier this year Pillay says Mohale continued using the clients’ money instead of paying Avecs.

Pillay said Flying King’s debt to Avecs increased to a staggering M1.7 million and Mohale was not cooperative when he asked to meet him.
The allegations are contained in Pillay’s urgent High Court application to put Flying King under judicial management.
He told the court that the company had potential but Mohale was destroying it with his reckless expenditure and mismanagement.

Pillay said he worried that if the trend continued the company might end up owing hundreds of clients and millions to the revenue authority.
Advocate Neil Fraser, who was appointed judicial manager, is however said to have failed to get Flying King’s financial records from Mohale.
Frustrated, Advocate Fraser applied for a liquidation order which was granted. He is now planning a meeting with the company’s creditors in January.

The liquidation could provide little solace for clients who have spent months waiting for Flying King to deliver their vehicles. With Flying King almost insolvent, it is highly unlikely that the customers will recover much of what they gave the company.
In the meantime, the fight between Pillay and Mohale has escalated. Pillay accuses Mohale of opening another company to compete with Flying King.

He says Mohale used Flying King’s money to start HMR Transport & Logistics with Donald Monethi.
thepost has seen an invoice that Mohale issued to a client under Flying King’s name but with HMR’s banking details.
Pillay says Mohale did this while he was Flying King’s managing director.
An auditor who analysed Flying King’s finances at Pillay’s behest found that M4 million could not be accounted for.

The audit also identified incidences of “misappropriation of company assets” and use of company money to buy personal vehicles. Taxes had not been paid and financial records were not kept, the auditor noted.
The audit shows that Flying King was a thriving company being hamstrung by fraud and mismanagement.

In 2018, for instance, the company had M26 million in turnover which increased to nearly M30 million the following year. Yet it was not paying its loans, taxes and suppliers.
A few months before applying for judicial management Avecs wrote to Mohale demanding M1.4 million it said he owed.
That letter, attached to the court documents, also accused Mohale of fraud, forgery and corruption.

“We have learnt of the acts of serious misconduct in that you inter alia allegedly falsified payment transfers and refunds to clients and cashed cheques without explanation or supporting documents,” Avecs said.
thepost has seen emails from customers complaining that they had not received their vehicles despite paying Flying King.
Last week Pillay said Mohale was using political connections to avoid taking responsibility for his actions.

A press release from his lawyers said the same after the Ministry of Trade banned Be Forward from exporting vehicles to Lesotho. The ban means Avecs also cannot deliver cars to Lesotho until the fight with Mohale is resolved.
In the press statement Pillay’s lawyers alleged that Mohale was behind the ministry’s decision.

They accused Mohale of using “his influence within the government quarters to convince officials to issue letters without justification in order to escape liability for his misdeeds when running the company and avoid answering questions”.
The statement also said Mohale used Flying King’s money to fund construction companies, car hire, tyre changing shop and various other companies with Monethi.

“It became glaringly clear that these business ventures were irregularly if not illegally financed with funds which belonged to customers and Avecs.”
Mohale has denied the allegations, insisting the Flying King is a viable company that is only being liquidated because of squabbles between him and Pillay.
“These allegations that I looted the company, misused funds for my personal entertainment and others come from my partner who is hell bent to see me falling,” Mohale said.

“His aim is to destroy my life and nothing else.”
Mohale said when he started Flying King, he was ordering vehicles from Japan and using Avecs for logistics.
He admitted that Flying King owed M400 000 to Avecs.
“We agreed that we would pay him in instalments for a period of a year and we were paying but after he joined us (as a shareholder) he advised us to use the money to renovate the office and do other things for the company,” he said.

“We were only shocked when he later came and said we owed him M800 000 but we did not refuse to pay it even though we did not understand how he came to that figure.”
Mohale said because he was now suspicious of Pillay’s motives, he started HMR through which his customers paid and he ordered vehicles using Flying King.

He said Pillay became aware of this and he withheld cars instead of delivering them to Lesotho despite that the customers had paid.
Mohale said he started HMR because Pillay himself had registered Be Forward Lesotho behind his back.
He said when the people demanded their cars or money back Mohale approached the ministry seeking its intervention.

Asked if he used the company’s funds without Pillay’s knowledge, he said “every transaction was made with Pillay’s blessings in that we could not use any funds without his signature”.
He however said “there is M20 000 which I used and purposely refused to pay back”.

“I had realised that I was working for Pillay in my company while he was busy registering another company in my back competing with me and yet he is my partner”.
“It’s conflict of interest,” he said.

Mohale said Pillay was touting Flying King’s employees to turn against him and join him in his companies “and out of anger I told him that I was resigning, leaving the company”. He however said he didn’t officially resign because “workers pleaded with me saying I should not leave because they were afraid to work with this Indian”.

Staff Reporter

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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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