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It never rains but pours!



MASERU – PEOPLE swept away by raging rivers. Graves ruined. Homes flooded and roofs blown off. Plantations destroyed and roads reduced to waterways.
After the devastating droughts experienced in recent years, many Basotho have been praying for rain: just not the rain of death.
The extreme weather events ravaging Lesotho in recent days characterised by heavy rains and strong winds have caused overwhelming destruction in nearly all districts.

In Borokhoaneng, streets were waterlogged, with many of them impassable when thepost visited the area on Monday.
Houses were flooded. Clothes and household furniture were drenched while many people kept their doors and windows open to release the musty and mouldy stench emanating from the dampness inside their houses. Others were busy mopping floods of water.
A resident, ‘Malisela Matlanyane, said she was “chilling” at home after attending church when it started raining.
“In no time, I started to see water penetrating through the corners,” she said.

She said she has been staying at the house since 2013, and attributed the flooding of homes to the poor drainage system.
“The car wash (nearby) blocks the water from going down to the dam and when it rains heavily, the water is diverted into our yards. I tried to use cement to build something like a stoop but it didn’t help. Maybe a wall could help but I really can’t afford it as I am unemployed,” she said, using a bucket to clear the water.

She said she was devastated by the destruction of her household furniture.
“I couldn’t sleep even after trying to cry myself to sleep. Seeing my belongings swim in dirty water made me feel helpless.”
Another resident, Relebohile ‘Molotsi, also put the blame on the car wash.
“These storms have affected us badly and our electrical appliances are not spared. Worse, the water had frogs and my tenant even saw a snake in her room,” she said, adding: “I am still afraid.”

She said Minister Doti and the local councelor have previously visited the area and promised to bring an engineer to solve the problem but no action has followed the words.
“We are uncomfortable in our own homes,” she said.
The Area Assistant Chief Tšeliso Mabusela said the floods had affected nearly half of the residents.

In a bid to address the problem, Mabusela said he met with various stakeholders who promised “to do something about the matter” although he fears these could be “the usual empty promises”.
“We plan to visit the Maseru City Council again with heavy hearts. We will help ourselves if no assistance is forthcoming.
Maseru District Administrator, Mpane Nthunya, said he has been informed of the Borokhoaneng issue. He said people in Lower Thamae and Ha Tšiu had faced similar problems.

“The DMA was informed about these incidents and following assessments they will be in a better position to recommend the way forward.”
He said a man was swept away with his horse in Likotopong River in Makhaleng and his body is yet to be found.
He also said four graves in Ha-Tšiu were also affected as the donga expanded and has to be moved to another place. “We are working on its placement,” he said.

Nthunya said the Likotopong Bridge, Korokoro Bridge was at the verge of collapse. “It will be the end of it if the rains continue,” he said.
Attempts to get comment from the car wash owners were unsuccessful. One of the owners refused to answer questions and referred thepost to his partner whose mobile phone rang unanswered and messages ignored.
In Berea, the DA, Liteboho Tšola, said he learnt that Ha-Kubere Bridge in Lekokoaneng had collapsed as did another one in Nokong. Some roads were also destroyed, said Tšola.

“The Roads (department) promised to update me after completion of the district assessment and we are hoping for a quick intervention,” he said, adding that a body was found in Ha-Mochekoane after being swept away by the river.
Leribe DA Mohlomphehi Mohobelo said a bridge collapsed in Khanyane.
He said four children were swept away by the river and they are yet to be found.

“The family is traumatised and we are planning to take them to the doctor tomorrow. They can’t even talk.”
He said repairing the roads is high on the agenda.
“They ought to be fixed before they get destroyed by heavy rainfall.”
Qacha’s Nek DA Mantsi Tseane said ‘Milikane Bridge was destroyed, making some areas inaccessible.
He said the road from Mabalane ea kokomoha was also damaged.
“It’s a big challenge,” he said.

Tseane said Bolahla was also affected and rocks were blocking some roads.
He said plantations that are near rivers were washed away.
“This has to be a lesson to everyone to be prepared to adapt and be resilient during the heavy rains. History shouldn’t repeat itself,” said Tseane.
Thaba-Tseka DA Motete Mokonyana said access from Katse to Thaba-Tseka was cut off for many people.
“Only 4×4 vehicles were able to pass,” he said, adding that the roads department has promised to fix the damage.
Butha-Buthe DA Chaba Tsepa said fields were mostly affected while many houses collapsed.

“In Manamela, a house collapsed on family members and one is in critical condition and fighting for life at QMMH.”
He said the rains destroyed St-Charles Bridge.
“We are visiting it tomorrow with the Roads Department to assess the situation for an informed intervention.”
Mohale’s Hoek Disaster Management Authority (DMA) Manager Lebohang Moletsane said Hloahloeng was mostly affected, with a group of potato farmers hit hard after rains washed away their crop.

He also said Ha-Rakoloi and Ha- ‘Mane’s Calvet were also affected.
“I still have to go and assess the damage and report my findings to all relevant experts as well to discuss the way forward and then inform the Maseru DMA office,” said Moletsane.
The DA for Quthing, Mapaseka Khesa, said the area “has had more than a fair share” of the problems.

She said three graveyards were destroyed while Masitise primary road was damaged and Ha-Makoai Bridge cut. Another three roads cut in Mount Moorosi were affected, where over 40 houses collapsed and others had their roofs blown away.
Khesa said they have sought help from the Public Works Minister to rebuild the infrastructure.
“He toured the Qhaoli, Tele and Ha Makoai roads for assessment,” said Khesa.

She said they are already assisting residents “where we can with role players such as the DMA, Forestry, Rural Water Supply, Water and WASCO, Roads, Red Cross, Environmental Health, DCS and DA.
“We are working to pool resources together. This collaboration will yield positive results,” Khesa said.
Meanwhile, Mahlape Koali, the DMA Information Officer, said they were still assessing the damage.
“Officers are working on it,” she said, noting that repairing the damage would be a collaborative effort with other stakeholders.

’Mapule Motsopa

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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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