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From the village to the courtroom



MASERU – There is a certain aura that surrounds Advocate Makhetha Motšoari’s name in Lesotho.
Over the last decade or so, Motšoari has distinguished himself as a hard-working lawyer within the legal fraternity.
Yet when asked when he was born, Motšoari is evasive.

He says there appears to be a clear disconnect between his age and what he has achieved in his professional life within a relatively short period of time.
That is because Motšoari’s name has over the last decade been closely associated with the heavyweights within the legal fraternity.
He is not even above 40 years.

A son of a former migrant mine worker, Motšoari had a normal upbringing just like any other Mosotho boy in the dusty village of Ha Seeiso in Matelile in Mafeteng.
Each morning he would wake up at the crack of dawn to herd cattle and plough the fields.
When he was not herding cattle, he would go to school.
There was no electricity.

During the biting winters, the family relied on paraffin heaters and firewood.
Life was not easy. Yet it is that Spartan upbringing that keeps Motšoari firmly grounded as a Mosotho man who is seeking to play his part in the improvement of the lives of his people.
He says because of that background, he finds it easy to identify with the downtrodden masses.
He has not forgotten where he came from.

Motšoari is currently serving as a Cabinet administrator and works closely with the Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka.
Motšoari believes the new coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, which assumed power in June last year, is on a strong footing to bring real economic transformation for Lesotho.

He says five decades of bickering by the political leadership has resulted in economic stagnation for Lesotho.
“The political instability and security challenges have led to the downfall of our economy and held back the development of the country,” he says.
He says he believes Lesotho is endowed with natural resources such as water and diamonds and if these are managed well, then this country can become an economic giant in the southern Africa region.

Yet instead of managing these resources and focusing on the economy, our leaders have for decades been locked in a tussle for political power at the expense of economic development, he says.
“They failed to focus on the broader issues that would spur economic growth and development.”
The political infighting has held back Lesotho’s development, he says.

“Sadly this is the position right now. We have stagnated as a country with politics still dividing our judiciary, the civil service and the security sector.”
Motšoari says Basotho will need to “bury the past” and focus on the future if the country is to make meaningful progress.
“We must go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves what happened and where did we go wrong? We must change our mindset and the way we see things.”
That will not be easy given the levels of animosity among Basotho based on historical grievances.

Motšoari says the ongoing SADC reforms have given Basotho a rare opportunity to address such concerns to ensure we bury the past.
“The only way out for us is through the reforms.”
With a population of just 2 million people, Motšoari believes there should be nothing that should stand in our way to foster unity and true reconciliation.
“We are just a small country who speak the same language and share the same culture. There is nothing that is too hard to achieve as long as we (sit down) and plan together.”
Motšoari says perhaps it is time for Basotho to take a leaf from the teachings of Moshoeshoe I, the founder of the nation.

“He believed in unity, peace and stability and had an effective way to solve disputes. We have to go back to his philosophy. We must go back to our roots.”
A devout man with deep Christian roots, Motšoari is no political hawk.
There appears to be no tinge of bitterness and anger in his voice when he speaks about the previous regime that stands accused of perpetrating serious human rights violations.
In fact, he is a preacher of unity and forgiveness, basic tenets of his Christian faith.
“It does not help to keep on fighting,” he says.

“We will continue to fight until when?”
However, Motšoari appears not advocate for a blanket forgiveness for offenders without any basis.
“They must first admit that they made mistakes and accept that we need to solve our differences. We must put the interests of Lesotho first and not the interests of the individuals.”
He says the leader of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Thomas Thabane, wants “to see this country speaking with one voice and enjoying unity as one nation”.
He says if he gets a chance to advise Thabane, he would tell him to always respect the wishes of the people and humble himself before the people.
If he does not, then the voters will give him a bloody nose at the next polls.

He believes the previous coalition government led by Pakalitha Mosisili became “too drunk with power” and committed terrible atrocities against the people.
“That is why the people turned against them and rejected them at the polls. They failed dismally to look after the interests of the people.”
He says Thabane’s coalition must keep its eyes on the ball in fulfilling the needs of the people.
Top among those targets is fighting youth unemployment and poverty.

He says the government is also determined to “ensure there is peace and stability in Lesotho”.
Motšoari was magnanimous in his assessment of Mosisili’s 15-year tenure as Prime Minister.
He believes Mosisili can still play a constructive role if he chooses to.

But to do so he must “make peace with the current leadership in government”.
“Failure to come to the table and discuss the current challenges will take this country nowhere,” he says.
“I believe there are important lessons that he learnt as Prime Minister during his 15 years in power and there are good things that he can advise the current leadership to take this country forward.”

Mosisili should not always be thinking of ways to topple the current government but should be able to advise the government for the benefit of the people, he says.
He says the opposition must co-operate and fully engage in the reforms process “since the reforms are for everybody”.
“They started the process and must come and continue with the process. The people are looking to them to provide leadership.”

“After 50 years we should be able to look back proudly and say, we participated in the reforms and contributed towards the development of our country.”
He said former deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, who is now in exile in South Africa must also come and be part of the reforms process.
“Basotho are looking forward to his contribution in the reform process and he must come back home and play his part.”

Motšoari grew up in a family of six.
He is the second born.
His father was a migrant mine worker in Welkom.

Most of the time his father would not be home and the burden of raising all six children would be left with his mother.
He says even at that young age, he would find himself “taking over leadership positions”, organizing things for his playing mates.
Motšoari enrolled for his LLB degree at the National University of Lesotho in 2001 and graduated from the university in 2006.
“I love law and even from a young age, I always wanted to be a lawyer,” he says.

Now that he is working as a Cabinet administrator, Motšoari says he still misses the practice of law.
“I miss law because that is what I love most. Law is my calling.”

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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