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Johane’s amazing journey



MASERU – LIKE other young boys, Tšepo Johane trekked from Thaba-Tseka to Maseru in search of employment after completing high school.
The businessman’s big break came from an unexpected source: a job as a security guard at a textile firm at Ha-Thetsane.
“Working as a security guard in the firm was a blessing in disguise,” said the 44-year old who now has his own company.
Johane is the founder and director of Johane Garments (Pty) Ltd, which specialises in manufacturing of protective clothes.
The factory counts big companies in South Africa and Lesotho among its customers.

It all started with poor Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) results where he obtained General Certificate of Education (GCE) in 1998. While working at the firm Johane realised that the cloth pieces classified by the firms as waste were still in good shape.
“I would collect those waste to cut them into final clothes,” he says, adding that since he had no sewing machine, he would sew using the hand needle.
Johane says he did not have any idea of what he was doing but at the end, he would come up with a top and a trouser.
“One woman was so surprised to see what I had done using a hand needle,” he recalled, adding that she could not stop marvelling at his work. “She realised the potential in me.”

They struck an agreement. She would make dresses and Johane would sell them to workers at the factory where he was still a security guard.
Business flourished and he would make about M6 000 monthly.
“However, i realised that there were designs that my business partner could not make and customers were no longer happy,” he said.
Instead of whining, he saw it as an opportunity.
Since he had no experience of sewing and cutting, he would move around in the firm during the day to see how the professionals did it.
Still, he wasn’t good at sewing.
Johane said he then approached one of his relatives at Thaba-Tseka who was sewing dresses to teach him.

He recalls one Sunday morning when the relative gave him a task.
“Due to limited time she only showed me how to do everything. When she came from the church the dress was perfectly made,” he said. He bought a sewing machine and his journey as an entrepreneur was taking shape.
With his customer base growing quickly due to his creativity, Johane realised he needed to fully focus on his new adventure and he quit his job.
He employed two people to help him meet demand.
He said it took him four years to realise the potential in the industry.
“I realised that it is not only about sewing the dresses but there are other things which can stir up, not just within the company but also in the economy,” he said.

He added that he wanted to do more and create something big.
Johane says he then decided to go to school to upgrade his skills. He tried Lerotholi Polytechnic but the college did not provide him with the part-time courses he needed.
In 2009 Limkokwing University introduced more courses that included Fashion and Apparel into their program. Johane tried his luck.
Since his results were not good, he had to use his work to convince college authorities to give him a job.
“The university was so impressed with my work that they enrolled me in one of the classes.”

Johane says he started with a six-month bridging programme before embarking on a three-year programme studying Fashion and Apparel.
At that time, Johane was already operating at one of the buildings at Ha-Thetsane and he had to move into town. He said, as a result, he had to retrench some of his employees and keep the extra machines.
After graduating in 2012, he returned to Ha-Thetsane and started a company that manufactures protective clothing.
Johane said a year later when he wanted to register his company, he was obliged to have other directors so he approached Keketsi Monaka and Thomello Pokola to be his business partners.
Johane said the business went south to the extent that sometimes they halt operations because they couldn’t afford rent.

“The situation was so bad that we had to sell some of our machines to cover rent. It took four years for the financial situation to improve,” said Johane.
By that time, one of his partners had decided to return to work in the factory firms to earn a living. Johane hung on.
“Since this has been my dream, I could not just abandon it,” he said, adding that he received financial help from his family.
“The love in this industry has also held me up,” said Johane, who left no stone unturned in search of help from various government departments.
He said the ministry of trade came to his rescue by lending him a building to operate from.

The place was run by a Chinese businessman who incubated him for three years from 2015.
In 2018, he was fortunate to be among people to be allocated space at buildings earmarked for Basotho businesses at Ha-Thetsane industrial estate.
Still, business was low and he had lost both his partners who had decided to abandon the project.

He decided to engage experts so that they could come up with different skills to improve the running of the business.
“Since that time the business has started booming,” he said.
In fact, business is so good that the company has had to hire more workers.
The business now has about 43 workers and 53 machines.
A month ago, the business opened a new retail branch in town where he hired four people.

Johane said he is now supplying protective clothing to three big South African companies that have about 500 workers.
He said apart from walk-in customers he has about 12 companies that rely on his company for protective clothing.
Johane also mentioned that he was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to go to China for a two months course to enhance his skills.
He said the ministry of gender also recognized his potential and donated a machine worth M450 000 to his business.

Johane said the business has benefited the community through job creation. It has also taken him on a rags-to-riches path.
He now owns three cars and he is working on developing his properties.
Johane says one of his goals is to supply overseas customers.
“I want to sell my brand internationally. We are already established here, now it’s time to look at becoming a global brand,” said. Johane, who also dreams of owning at least three factories that can create more than 1 500 jobs for Basotho.

Refiloe Mpobole

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6 more added to Manyokole’s corruption case



MASERU – SIX more officials from the Land Administrative Authority (LAA) and the Maseru City Council (MCC) were this week joined to Lefu Manyokole’s corruption case.

Ntšebo Putsoa, Ntsoaki Matobo, Matlaleha Phahlane, Thakane Tau, Phakoane Pitikoe and Lebaka Matlatsa were formally charged and appeared before Magistrate ’Makopano Rantšo on Monday.

Court papers show that the accused contravened the Land Act between April 2016 and May 2018 at the LAA, they unlawfully and intentionally fraudulently processed the registration or issued a lease or any other document or instrument relating to land plot no. 13291-1110.

The state alleges that Manyokole, who is the former principal secretary in the Ministry of local government, made false representations to the LAA regarding plot number 13291-1110 to acquire illegal title to it.

The charge sheet says Manyokole, at or near the LAA offices in Maseru, registered or obtained a lease of the plot knowing that it did not belong to him.

Manyokole is accused of contravening provisions of section 83 of the Land Act of 2010 by making a false claim to gain the piece of land.

The court released Manyokole on M1 000 bail last week and ordered him to reappear before the same court last Monday.

Manyokole was granted bail under conditions that he should not interfere with the crown witnesses and that he should report to the police.

His co-accused were also granted bail of M1 000 each by the court.

The court papers showed that the said land was situated in Qoaling in Maseru district and Manyokole and his co-accused knew very well that they are not the official owners of that land.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Storm over fleet maintenance deal



MASERU – Opposition parties are fuming after the government this week picked five companies to maintain its fleet without going through a tender process.

In a January 27, 2023 savingram, the Ministry of Finance said it had appointed Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana to maintain the government’s fleet.

The savingram, titled Interim Vehicle Maintenance Guidelines, says the vehicle maintenance contract signed between the Lesotho government and Fleet Services Lesotho (FSL) in 2020 “experienced serious challenges that involved the suspension of services in 2021 which were later resumed partially in 2022”.

“Since then the government made attempts to resolve some issues which were under its control without success,” it reads.

It also says the Ministry of Finance held a meeting with local vehicle service providers accredited by FSL.

“These are Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana,” it reads.

It says the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the possibility of working directly with the government while processes of resolving issues between the government and the FSL shareholders are underway”.

This has however infuriated opposition parties that have accused the government of corruptly dishing out jobs without going through a tender process.

The Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, told thepost that the party will soon call a press conference to address the matter.

“We always knew that these rich people would start dishing out tenders to themselves,” Letsosa said.

He said they have been warning the nation about the same people even before the general elections “but they called us names saying we have been benefiting too, now look”.

“The time for the rich people to eat in the face of hungry Basotho has come,” he said.

“No one should cry, we warned them not to vote for these people and they did not listen.”

He complained that the companies mentioned on the savingram did not even tender for the job.

“We are surprised that no tendering processes were followed here.”

He added that when giving themselves the tenders the government suspended the initial company that had been awarded the tender.

“It is not fair at all. How can you be the government and do business with yourself?”

Letsosa said the DC is “against the individualism that is being practised by the parties in government by not advertising the tenders so that all interested parties can bid”.

The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader, Teboho Mojapela, said “the RFP heavyweights (made) their riches through corruption”.

“We always warned the people that these rich men would steal tenders at every chance they get, now they are doing just that,” Mojapela said.

“As a rich man I never did business with the government,” he said.

“This country needs rich leaders on the forefront, but not corrupt ones.”

He said time will expose what Basotho have called upon themselves by voting for the current government.

“They are showing their true colours now.”

He added that this will be a lesson to Basotho to start looking at qualities of politicians when voting.

“They must vote for people who fear God and are faithful,” he said.

“The RFP people are corrupt and all of them will never change, they are going to continue enriching themselves.”

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) deputy leader, Lebohang Thotanyana, said the government is “committing a crime by not issuing tenders for the job”.

“Mdlokovana is an interested party, it is a big mistake to give him a tender unless it is now their policy to award themselves tenders,” Thotanyana said.

Clute Mdlokovana, the owner of the car maintenance chain of businesses named after his name, is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Mohale’s Hoek constituency.

Thotanyana said Mdlokovana will not be able to keep service providers to the government accountable as an MP “because he too is a service provider to the government”.

He also said the previous governments always advertised tenders “but these people just sit down and award themselves tenders, they did not even tender”.

The Basotho National Party (BNP) secretary general, Moeketsi Hanyane, also condemned the government’s move.

He recalled that during the BNP government, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan once barred his ministers from being actively involved in running businesses.

“He told Chief Peete Peete to sell all his buses so that he could give a chance to other Basotho to do business,” Hanyane said.

“It is high time Basotho as a nation stood up to condemn the bad behavior of the RFP,” he said.

“It is not fair that the already rich people will be richer while other citizens suffer,” he said.

“Mdlokovana is a Member of Parliament, imagine how many millions he is going to make with this deal with the government.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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How MP’s wife was killed



MASERU – A suspected love triangle has left an MP’s wife dead.

’Maretšepile Mabote, the wife of Malefane Mabote who is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Tsikoane, was allegedly ambushed at her Tsikoane home by a hitman suspected to have been hired by her husband’s long-standing girlfriend.

The girlfriend, Bokang Mahlelehlele, is alleged to have been with the alleged hitman when he sprayed bullets on ’Maretšepile last Friday.

Deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka said Maretšepile’s teenage daughter responded to a knock on the door at around 10pm.

Inspector Mofoka said a man at the door asked the daughter to call his mother. She said as ’Maretšepile was approaching the door the man opened fire.

“Unfortunately when the deceased was at the passage to attend to her visitor, she was sprayed with a hail of bullets,” Inspector Mofoka said.

“She died on the spot.”

Inspector Mofoka said the suspect then fled in a 4+1 taxi that was waiting nearby. Alarm was raised and neighbours gave chase.

The neighbours were soon joined by the police. She said as the neighbours approached the car a man who the police suspect to be the hitman jumped out and disappeared into the darkness.

The police and the neighbours however caught up with the car.

Mahlelehlele, 32, whose affair with Mabote is said to be a public secret, was in the car. The driver was 27-year-old Matsoso Maekane. Mahlelehlele and Maekane were arrested and appeared in the Leribe magistrate’s court on Tuesday. They were remanded in custody.

The suspected hitman is still at large.

Inspector Mofoka said so far nothing links Mabote to the murder that has left the people of Tsikoane shocked. Mahlelehlele is a nursing lecturer at the National University of Lesotho while ’Maretšepile, 30, was a nurse at Motebang Hospital in Leribe.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced but Maretšepile’s grieving relatives are fuming.

thepost spoke to three relatives who all said they saw her death coming. They said they knew that Mabote and ’Maretšepile had several quarrels, some violent, about Mahlelehlele.

Mosa Ngatane, ’Maretšepile’s brother, said his sister lived a life of misery because of Mahlelehlele.

Ngatane said he is not surprised that Mahlelehlele is being implicated in the murder because she was openly having an affair with Mabote.

‘Makhomotso Ngatane, Ngatane’s wife and Maretšepile’s sister-in-law, said she knew Mahlelehlele as Mabote’s lover.

She also said she is not surprised Mahlelehlele has been arrested in connection with Maretšepile’s death.

thepost could not verify some of the allegations that ‘Makhomotso made about the way Mabote treated his wife.

She said Maretšepile once lived with her after a particularly nasty dispute with her husband.

Last night, Mabote said he was not in a position to speak about his wife’s death or the allegations that he was having an affair with Mahlelehlele.

“This is too much for me,” Mabote said, adding that he will only be able to talk to the media after his wife’s funeral.

“I will be ready for the interview after the funeral. I will even tell you the funeral date,” he said.

“We are still discussing the burial date as the family.”

In the aftermath of the incident some people have posted the picture of Mabote and Mahlelehlele on social media.

Staff Reporter

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