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How low can we sink?

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MASERU – THE late Mokalekale Khetheng will finally receive a decent burial in his home village in Mokhotlong on August 26.
Khetheng’s decomposing body was exhumed at Botšabelo’s paupers’ burial site where he was buried together with 40 other people whose relatives could not be found last Friday.
The exhumation came over 470 days after he mysteriously went missing from a police station in Hlotse.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the exhumation, which was attended by his family and top government and police officials.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife ’MaIsaiah covered her face in horror as the coffin was opened.
The Prime Minister was by her side.

Cabinet ministers, including Police Minister ’Mampho Mokhele, were also present.
The coffin carrying Khetheng’s body was only tagged with a number, but his relatives immediately identified him despite the advanced decomposition state. They also recognised his running shoes and clothes.
There was palpable tension, curiosity and fear as onlookers in facial masks watched while exhumers dug through two coffins to reach Khetheng’s body.
This was on the 474th day since Khetheng was found dead in Ha-Setho in Rothe on March 27 last year.
He had gone missing from the Hlotse police station where he had been arrested two days earlier.

Khetheng could not receive a proper burial then because no one could identify him or his relatives when Ha-Setho villagers discovered his body near the village.
The local chief called the police who immediately took the then unidentified body to the nearest Lesotho Funeral Services mortuary.
Two months later, the corpse was taken to Maseru mortuary for a pauper’s burial.

Then last Thursday — two days after the arrest of four police officers in connection with the cop’s disappearance — the police went to Botšabelo cemetery to exhume Khetheng’s body.
His father Thabo Khetheng, who was not at the exhumation, seemed to finally find a bit of closure amid the grief.
The senior Khetheng described the circumstances surrounding his son’s death as “unacceptable” but said the discovery of the remains means his son’s “bones will be buried in dignity”.
It had been more than a year of trauma for the family as efforts to locate Khetheng all seemed in vain.

The father knocked on the doors of senior police commanders, the courts and anyone he thought could help with no success until last Thursday.
Touched by the family’s plight, police boss Holomo Molibeli said he ordered a thorough investigation after the Khetheng family told him about their struggle.
“I then started investigations which led to the arrest of some suspects and now we are about to establish if this man we are exhuming is Constable Khetheng,” Molibeli said as the exhumation process was about to start.

DNA tests to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the exhumed body indeed belongs to Khetheng were still not out at the time of going to print.
Molibeli said he heard how the Khetheng family had lost confidence in the police after they were sent from pillar to post by some uncooperative officers in the search for the missing soon.
“I want to humble myself in front the Basotho nation for every wrong thing the Lesotho Mounted Police Service did,” said Molibeli, who was appointed to his post recently.
“This is not the way to handle things,” he said.

He expressed surprise at how the police were defensive when the family filed a habeas corpus application.
A habeas corpus application is filed in court to force authorities to bring a person before a court or judge.
It is usually filed in the case of missing or forcibly disappeared persons.

The question is why we were so defensive? So I told the (police) lawyer to stop (defending) immediately because that is not the direction we want to take,” he said.
Molibeli said every Mosotho should join hands with Khetheng’s family.
Khetheng was arrested in March 2016 in Sebothoane in Leribe.

Opposing the habeas corpus case, the police denied any knowledge of the arrest. This was despite that the police had earlier told Parliament that Khetheng had disappeared from a police station in Hlotse, where he had been arrested. It therefore came as a shock to many in November last year when Senior Inspector Mabitle Matona told High Court judge Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane that he was unaware that Khetheng had been arrested and was missing.

However, a police officer who testified on behalf of the Khetheng family in the case insisted that Matona was one of the senior officers involved in Khetheng’s arrest.
Matona, who was one of the four officers arrested in connection with the case, denied any role in the saga. The officers appeared before the Chief Magistrate in Maseru on Tuesday charged with Khetheng’s murder.

Rose Moremoholo & Nkheli Liphoto

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

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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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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