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From IT to fashion guru



THABA-TSEKA – A SKILL learnt in childhood is turning out to be a lifesaver for a 25-year-old woman after years of hunting for her dream job turned into a nightmare.
As a young girl, Mookho Pule was taught the art of tailoring by her mother, but it wasn’t really her career choice.
What she loved most was information technology and when the opportunity to pursue it arose, she grabbed it and enrolled at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to study for a Honours Degree in Information Technology.

Job hunting didn’t turn out to be as rewarding. In 2019 she gave up and remembered the art of tailoring handed down to her by her mother. A rising star in the fashion business was born.
“I started focusing on fashion, graphic designing, make-up art, nail tech and hair dressing to make a living. But lately I am focusing on fashion design more than anything else,” she said of the venture.
She says she is beginning to enjoy life again after years of distress.
“Years of job-hunting without any luck forced me to give up even though some of my schoolmates got jobs immediately after graduation,” Pule recalled.

“I got depressed to an extent that I thought I had wasted four years of my life working for a qualification that I loved. It was not working for me,” she said.
Passionate about art, she says her new career path allows her to express herself in different aspects.
“I like creating things out of nothing and my work speaks for itself. I always do things beyond people’s imaginations, and I make sure I deliver good customer service and deliver on time. That’s how I beat competition,” she said, delight written all over her face.

“My ability to design attires that a lot of designers find tricky to do makes my work unique. And my good customer service makes people look at me differently.”
Pule, the brains behind the fast growing The Destiny brand, is now a designer to reckon with in Maseru.
The Destiny is an umbrella name for all the different services she provides.
“I came up with the name because it is a one-stop beauty shop. One gets the apparel and beauty, hence I say one has reached the destination, the world of everything related to beauty,” she said.

Raised by a single mother who worked hard to ensure that the family’s basic needs were covered through her tailoring business, Pule learnt the basics of sewing during her high school days.
“My mother worked hard every day to make us happy and that’s what shaped my thinking as a young woman. She taught me how to work hard for everything that I need.”

Pule made clothes for herself for quite some years and only went into fashion as a business in 2019.
“My first customers were my friends who told more people about my work. That’s when my business started to gain exposure and grow.
“My mission was to do my best and exceed the customers’ expectations by providing trendy, urban and stylish comfortable wear,” said Pule, who paid tribute to her family and friends for the “remarkable” emotional and financial support.

“They always recommend my work to people who need the services I offer,” she said, adding that many of her Facebook friends and clients also support her as they always share her work online.
Pule’s first sewing machine was a gift from her mother.
“I wanted one but didn’t have the money, so she gave me the sewing machine,” said Pule.

“I used to get less than five customers a month but now I have lost count. I have a lot of work, I don’t have a free day.”
“The thrill of trying new designs and getting them right motivates me and the confidence people have in me and the rate at which my business is growing pumps me up. It is growing faster than I expected,” gushed Pule.
She recalled a time when she couldn’t get a job she had high hopes for.
“I thought it was the end of the world, I just wanted to give up on everything.”

“But my family came together and bought me my second machine and showed me that being formally employed is not everything. They supported me to the extent of being my customers too.”
Growing up, she says she always wanted to be an engineer and fashion designing was just a hobby.

“Although I haven’t practised as an engineer yet, I am still content with my choice of pursuing fashion while planning my engineering venture.”
Pule said she studied engineering because she loves challenges, solving problems and IT engineering is mostly focused on problem-solving.
She said studying typewriting and computers back in high school helped nourish her love of IT engineering.

“When job-hunting failed, I opted for entrepreneurship because my mother always told me how nice it was being your own boss,” said Pule.
“She always encouraged me not to trouble myself with looking for employment because I would be making a lot of money for someone while I get the bread crumps in the form of a salary.”

She currently works alone but gets help from her friends occasionally.
In three years time, Pule sees herself having two or more employees and working in a bigger space making more money than she does now.
“My aspiration is to grow in business and financially, to make customers happy at all times so I have an accelerating cash flow.”

She says although she has sales experience from selling shear butter products and trout fish before Covid-19 hit, she faces several challenges.
Her major challenge is dealing with customers who change designs during the process of tailoring and having to start all over the entire process.
The other challenge, she says, is of customers who demand quick.
“I have had a couple of customers who would bring material and need their clothes the next day, putting me under a lot of pressure.”

She says being a fashion designer has affected her positively because her financial status has changed for the better.
On the other hand the workload denies her a social life.
“I even work overnight to get things done and my biggest fear is losing my customers due to failure to deliver what they want and on time. I always make sure I deliver.”

“Working in a quiet place helps me focus on my job. I enjoy working at night more than during the day because it’s quiet – no disruption of any kind.”
“Make money while they are sleeping, then enjoy it while they wake up to make it,” said Pule, stating that she has built a customer base through proper communication channels inclusive of social media.
She says the positive feedback from her customers keeps her going.
“Customers who keep coming back for more designs encourage me as it shows that they loved and appreciated what I did before.”

She said her favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur was making money on a daily basis, not having to wait for a monthly salary which won’t even be satisfactory.
Given an opportunity to restart her career, she says she wouldn’t do anything different.
To keep up with latest trends, Pule says she follows celebrities whom she considers trend setters.

“I often search online to keep myself up to date with the latest trends. Celebrities love beautiful, stylish and up-to-date designs so I follow them to be updated on new things.”
Her advice to entrepreneurs is to give it all and be devoted to their work.
“Every good work starts from being in love with what you do. Business is a risk one should take without any hesitation and you will later enjoy the fruits of what you have sown. There are challenges in every business development, but they are all temporary and meant to make you stronger.”

’Mapule Motsopa



A night of horror



THE police arrived in Ha-Rammeleke, a Mokhotlong village, in the middle of the night.
They stormed one house and found a couple sleeping.

They then dragged the man out and ordered him to follow their instructions if he didn’t want to be killed. Their order was that he should scream while announcing to his neighbours that his wife was gravely ill. The villagers who responded to the man’s plea for help didn’t know that they were walking into a trap.

The police rounded them up as they arrived at the man’s house.

Their night of horror has just begun.

Dozens of men and women were frog-marched to the edge of the village.

The police assaulted the men with sticks and whips. They kicked others.

In the crowd was Tebalo Lesita, a 48-year-old Rastafarian with dreadlocks.

He was called to the front and ordered to act like a Rastafarian.

First, they said he should sing Reggae while shaking his head so that his dreadlocks would wave from side to side. He did and they laughed.

“They also ordered me to mimic Lucky Dube.”

Lesita says he only shouted like he was singing because, due to fear, all Lucky Dube’s songs he knew had slipped out of his mind.

“I just mumbled some words as if I was singing. I have never experienced such torment before.”

“I only kept saying ‘Ye ye ye!’”, he says.

They laughed again.

Meanwhile, the police were hurling insults at him.

“I was told that I was smelling rubbish in the mouth.”

Lesita says the police then instructed him to act as if he was having sex.

And when he said he was tired of the act the police ordered him to act as if he was ejaculating.

He did and his tormentors roared with laughter.

The police, Lesita says, wanted him and other villagers to confess that they knew men who had shot and killed a man earlier in the village.

Lesita says after the ordeal that lasted nearly an hour the police ordered him to pray. He claims his body is full of bruises, especially on the buttocks.

“My body is aching all over.”

Lesita says he wants to sue the police but doesn’t know where to start.

“I understand that my human rights have been grossly violated but I do not know which legal steps to follow,” he says.

A week after the assault, he still hasn’t sought medical help.

Nor has he opened a case against the police.

“I find it impossible to open the case against them. I will have to go to the police station to open a case,” he says.

“How can I open the case against the police at the police station?”

As a sheep farmer, Lesita says he cannot afford the taxi fare to travel to Mapholaneng to report a case at Tlokoeng Police Station.

Lesita says he cut his dreadlocks a day after the incident “because they have put me into serious problems”.

“I rue the day that I started growing those dreadlocks,” he says.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, confirmed that there was a police operation in Mokhotlong but said he didn’t know how it unfolded.

Incidents of the police terrorising villagers under the guise of fighting or investigating crimes are common in Lesotho.

It is rare for police officers involved in such incidents to be arrested or prosecuted.

Majara Molupe

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Anger over Chinese businesses



FORMER Mining Minister, Lebohang Thotanyana, says Lesotho is shooting itself in the foot by allowing Chinese companies that win major construction tenders to import everything from China.

Thotanyana was speaking at the Basotho Business Empowerment Forum on Tuesday.

The forum was organised by the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Association.

Thotanyana told the forum that of all the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries, Lesotho is the one benefitting the least from hiring Chinese-owned companies for major infrastructure projects. 


Thotanyana said Chinese companies tend to “import everything save menial labour” in every government job they win.


“We only benefit minimally with the labour force,” Thotanyana said, adding that “more money goes back to the countries that have brought their own machinery”.


“This is exactly what is happening at the Polihali Dam which is under construction.” 


“There should be a value chain so that the economy grows.”


Tempers flared at the forum as local business owners accused the government of failing to protect them against Chinese businesses. 


The forum revealed the growing frustration among local business owners who feel the government is not doing enough to protect them against Chinese business muscling them out of sectors reserved for them. 


The local business owners criticised the government for failing to implement the Business Licensing and Registration Act 2019 that reserves certain businesses for indigenous Basotho. 


They told the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Thabo Moleko, together with a handful of MPs in attendance, that their patience had worn out.


“We want our business from the Chinese and Indians,” Thobei Motlere, the president of the MSME Association said.


“We are not afraid of these Chinese,” he added, adding that they could approach them head-on.


“We want to see the Act implemented now, not tomorrow or any other time. We want to push them out of the business peacefully. We want peace.”


Motlere said they have been pushed out of business by the Chinese yet there is a law to protect them “against unfair competition”.


“We have elected you as MPs but you are doing nothing to save us from the competition yet there is a law in place,” Motlere said.


The MPs tried to respond to some of the issues people but they were booed and heckled. 


“This is not the right place to answer. You should address this in parliament, not here,” said one woman in the crowd. 


Some MPs walked out of the forum in protest but were eventually coaxed to return to their chairs. 


’Maremi ’Mabathoana, a street vendor, said the Chinese sell almost every item.


“We buy from their shops so that we can sell small items. But the Chinese also sell small items,” ’Mabathoana said.


“When we sell a sweet for M1, they sell it for 50c,” she yelled.


“When we sell apples for M4, the Chinese sell them for M2. This is unfair.”


Moeketsi Motšoane, the Mafeteng MP who is the chairman of the parliament’s Natural Resources committee, said he is also facing similar challenges in his home district.


Trying to calm the irked traders, Motšoane said he could bet that some people were being used by the Chinese to kick Basotho out of business.


“There are such people amongst you who are being used by the Chinese to knock Basotho out of business,” Motšoane said.


He told the Ministry of Trade to move swiftly to implement the Act.


“If you do not implement the Act, we will drag you before the committee to account,” he said.


 Moleko, the principal secretary of Trade,  promised to implement the law. 

Majara Molupe

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Labour unions in nasty fight



TWO trade unions representing workers at Polihali Dam construction site have turned on each other.
Instead of fighting for better pay and conditions for members, the Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers (CMQ) and the Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) are locked in a nasty battle that could be linked to a fight over membership.

CMQ alleges that LEWA officials intimidated its members who wanted to vote for a proposed strike against companies working at Polihali Dam.

CMQ also accuses LEWA’s secretary general, Hlalefang Seoaholimo, of conflict of interest which it says renders him unable to effectively represent workers in their battles against employers in Polihali.

CMQ says Seoaholimo is working as a union leader and an employer at the same time. This, CMQ says, is because Seoaholimo’s company, Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd, has been subcontracted by some companies working at Polihali Dam.

The allegations of intimidation and conflict of interest are part of the letter that CMQ’s secretary general, Robert Mokhahlane, has written to the Registrar of Trade Unions.

In that letter, seen by thepost, Mokhahlane pleads with the Registrar of Trade Unions to deregister LEWA over the alleged intimidation and Seoaholimo’s conflict of interest.

Mokhahlane tells the registrar that because of Seoaholimo’s shareholding in Domino Blasting, LEWA has “characteristics of a company, not a trade union”.

“At Polihali Dam construction, there (were) workers who were employed by Domino Blasting Services at various projects,” Mokhahlane alleges.

“They (Domino Blasting) have a long list of projects that have references and include some companies involved in the construction of Polihali Dam.”

Seoaholimo is one of Domino Blasting’s four directors and holds 300 of the 1000 shares in the company.

Mokhahlane tells the registrar that Seoaholimo cannot claim to be independently fighting for workers’ rights when his company is working with the same companies accused of unfair labour practices in Polihali.

He also accuses Domino Blasting’s human resource officer, Mpho Kanono, of being conflicted because she is also an official of the United Textile Employees (UNITE).

“Both the two officials (Seoaholimo and Kanono) are workers’ representatives within the Wages Advisory Board whereby Hlalefang Seoaholimo is the spokesperson of the workers,” Mokhahlane says.

Mokhahlane also accuses Seoaholimo of “intimidating workers who will be balloting for a strike action by encouraging LEWA members to observe and identify workers” who would participate.

He claims that Seoaholimo mocked a CMQ official who was mobilising workers for the strike at the construction site.

The Labour Code, which the registrar has been asked to invoke, says a union or employers’ organisation may be cancelled by the Labour Court on the registrar’s application.

Seoaholimo has however vehemently refuted allegations that his company is working at Polihali Dam. He told thepost that CMQ is in a campaign to tarnish his name and that of LEWA because “they are aware that workers do not want to join their union”.

He admits that he is a shareholder in Domino Blasting but insists that “as we speak now Domino Blasting does not have a job anywhere in Lesotho”.

“CMQ has to provide evidence that a company called Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd is working and has any employees in Polihali,” Seoaholimo said.

“Domino Blasting does not even have an office anywhere in the country because it is not working anymore.”

“They should identify the people hired by Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd among workers in Polihali.”

He said the company has not operated in Lesotho since 2016 when it completed a project. Seoaholimo, however, says he is aware of a South African company with a similar name working in Polihali.

“I as a person have nothing to do with that company,” Seoaholimo said.

He said it is true that Mpho Kanono used to work for Domino Blasting back in 2016 when it still had contracts but she has since left because “the company stopped working”.

“Mpho Kanono is an official of UNITE and has nothing to do with Domino Blasting at present moment.”

Staff Reporter

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