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Hope for lost ‘graduates’

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MASERU – CASWELL Mabe, 30, is struggling to feed his family.
Despite that he has only two children and a wife working at a textile factory in Maseru, Mabe says sometimes they depend on handouts from neighbours.
Unlike his wife who only did primary school, Mabe has a Form E certificate and is fluent in both written and spoken English and Sesotho.
His main economic activity to support his family is to sell airtime and items such as sweets and potato chips while his wife works in the factories.
“When I was in school as a boy my parents used to say I would be employed and earn a lot of money but now look where I am,” Mabe says.

“I am not qualified to go to any university because of my low grades and I don’t think I am employable anywhere,” he says.
“I grew up looking after my father’s livestock after school hours and on weekends and therefore I do not have any skill other than looking after livestock.”
The livestock was stolen some years ago in his home district of Thaba-Tseka, and he had to come to Maseru to look for a job after completing high school.
Mabe says he sometimes gets temporary jobs as an unskilled labourer in small construction companies.

Mabe says if given an opportunity, he could welcome training in any practical skill such as carpentry or bricklaying.
His cousin, Lebohang Mabe, holds a Junior Certificate and is a taxi driver.
“I joined the taxi industry at the age of 17 years, some seven years ago, and I think I am content with what I have. This is because I have no other skill other than driving a car,” Lebohang says.
“I cannot build a house, am not a carpenter, a plumber, nothing. I am a driver and when my door breaks I call a carpenter to fix it,” he says.
The two cousins say they have never heard of any school that can offer training for them at an affordable fee.

“I need just a little training so that I can be employable or start my own workshop,” Mabe says, adding: “It is embarrassing that I depend on my wife for everything.”
The experiences of the Mabe brothers epitomize the macro-economic situation in Lesotho where one third of the adult population is said to be unemployed, according to the 2016 country Economy Review.

This is because, according to the 2018 Transformation Index BTI Report, Lesotho had a “very low human development index of 0.497” in 2014 thus making it rank 161 out of 188 countries.
In 2016, according to the same report, 77.3 percent of the Basotho population lived below the poverty line.
More than half of Basotho are subsistence farmers, according to the report.

Moorosi Mokuena, Head of Programmes at the Lesotho Opportunities Industrialisation Centre (LOIC), believes the status quo could be reversed if Basotho were to raise their level of appreciation of blue collar jobs. His school, LOIC, has been giving hope to those hopeless Basotho for years.

Copying from Reverend Leon Sullivan and his fellow black ministers who started Opportunities Industrial Centres (OIC) in America in the 1960s, Lesotho started its own in 1973.
The dream of the OIC founders was to start an indigenous programme for the disadvantaged on a grassroots basis and they started it in an abandoned jailhouse in the heart of the North Philadelphia Black Community.

OICs offer marketable skills such as welding, power sewing teletype operation, electronics, chemical analysis and key punch operation to secondary school drop-outs.
There are more than 115 OICs located throughout the United States, Africa, Latin Africa and the Caribbean.
The interest in establishing the LOIC began in 1973 when government officials from Lesotho visited the OIC International located in Philadelphia.
Mokuena says the LOIC was meant for school leavers when it started in the 1970s.

The programme is now fully functioning and has been accorded recognition by the government of Lesotho as the only training institution addressing the needs of primary school graduates.
Mokuena says several features make LOIC a ‘‘unique institutional body – it is a community based institution and non-traditional in its approach to training”.
“It offers free access to Vocational and Entrepreneurial Training and Management Development (ETMD) skills to the economically disadvantaged sector of the Basotho population,’’ Mokuena says.
He says ‘‘skills training is offered to Junior Certificate holders in the areas of Bricklaying and masonry, Carpentry and joinery, combination of Plumbing technology and tiling, Electrical installation with Solar Energy Technology and Welding and Boiler making”.

“There is also Computer Appreciation for all, except those with prior qualification. Standard Seven and Junior Certificate holders receive training in Foremanship, ETMD.’’
He says the plumbing and welding programme was divided into two courses.
The new course, Welding and Boiler-making, was introduced ‘‘because we wanted the available programmes to respond to the needs and not only put ourselves in line with what was taught when the school was founded yet it is no longer beneficial.’’

Although LOIC accepts learners who did Standard 7, it differs when it comes to electrical installation and boiler-making as it strictly wants those who did Form C.
‘‘This is because these courses require special knowledge,’’ he says.

Mokuena says he would encourage youths to enroll with LOIC as the country is desperately in need of skilled citizens – most skills are imported.
‘‘Enrolling here would help them to attain skills that would be very helpful after completion as they will be able to start their own businesses and not seek jobs,” Mokuena says.
“This will also improve the country’s economy,’’ he adds.

He says LOIC’s biggest strength is that ‘‘it deals with raw learners whom most if not all institutions do not consider – the hopeless”.
“We do our magic to turn them into something good. We produce an artisan who works with crafts.’’

Mokuena says the major challenges they encounter, considering students’ entry level, is that of learners who hardly understand what they are taught and that they cannot write in English.
‘‘Both the (students with) standard seven and form C (certificates) study in one class hence their levels of understanding differ,’’ he says.
He says they empower teachers not to give up regardless of the situation of having to teach students of different levels in one room.
‘‘They do help us to find different ways of approaching those learners.’’

‘‘Also, BEDCO does help us teach them entrepreneurship and cooperatives so as to have sustainable businesses.’’
“LOIC believes that every man and woman should be given a chance to help himself and it aims to train and retrain thousands of individuals with untapped talents and unknown skills who are either unemployed or underemployed,’’ Mokuena says.

‘‘Commitments and dedication to the self-help concept, with emphasis on training for jobs are primary requisites for trainees and staff.’’
“Man in his infinite variety should be treated with respect – his dignity ought not to be violated because of his appearance, personal history or present condition.’’
LOIC currently has 201 students between the age of 16 and 35 in different categories and 10 teachers in five departments.

LOIC offers a certificate after two years of study and internship for those who study electrical and solar.
LOIC’s Executive Director, Motloang Letete, says the school is mandated to ‘‘provide technical and vocational education and training for the most educationally and economically disadvantaged Basotho youths and the labour force’’.
‘‘We want excellent, transparent and accountable organization which addresses poverty alleviation and meets our customer satisfaction,’’ Letete says.

’Mapule Motsopa

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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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

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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

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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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