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… a woman’s story of grief, tribulations, forgiveness and triumph

LIMPHO Maema would have been a medical doctor if the cruel hand of fate had not intervened.

She had just started her BSc studies for getting into the medical programme at the University of Free State when her father, an activist turned politician, was fatally shot during the political riots that rocked Lesotho in 1998.

If his untimely death crushed her world then what followed almost buried her.

Unable to afford her tuition, Maema dropped out of university and came back home where her tribulations would continue for several years.

An uncle took everything her father owned, including insurance pay-out, a house and sites. The injustice of her uncle inheriting everything her father owned was clear but the law was not on her side.

Maema’s three-year court battle to pry the inheritance from her father’s brother ended in defeat because the law said a girl child could not inherit her father’s estate. She was the only child.

“It was yet another blow for me,” Maema says.

Although the law was clear that her uncle was supposed to use part of the estate to maintain the lifestyle she had enjoyed while her father was alive, Maema found herself abandoned and destitute. The uncle could not pay her tuition or give her a decent life as the heir to an estate to which she was a dependant.

“I was raised by my father. I was dear to him and him to me. His passing changed everything. It was a key turning point in my life.”

Desperate, Maema went to live with her mother and maternal grandmother in Leribe.

“Those were dark days but they shaped me,” she says.

This was an only child whose father was a man of means had given everything but was now living in dire circumstances.

Yet Maema had the will and courage to accept her new situation. Maema’s saving grace was that her father had also exposed her to both sides of the world: a time of fat cows and a time of lean cows.

During holidays her father would let her visit her mother who she says came from “a very humble background”. That exposure helped Maema with the adjustment to the new situation when she moved in with her mother in Leribe.

“It was tough but I could adjust to the new reality, with no shame,” she adds. I was loved and supported in countless ways to deal with the trauma and to regain control of my life.

She would spend about a year there before returning to Maseru to work at a photo lab. Maema says those three dark years helped her grow spiritually and “find myself”. The process restored and reinvigorated me at exponential levels, it was liberating. She gave up the fight, forgave her uncle and moved on.

“It was a moment of reckoning when I realised that this battle and resentment was consuming me. I just had to let it go and focus on myself.”

Once she started healing Maema realised that while she had lost her father’s estate, she had inherited his lessons and values.

“He taught me to stand on my own and respect the people around me.”

Because her father was good to other people, Maema got support from friends, total strangers and other relatives who wanted her to succeed.

“I had lost material things but I had inherited his humility and humanity.”

The legal battles inspired her to study law at the National University of Lesotho.

It would also define her career path that saw her volunteer and work at women’s rights organisations.

She wanted to understand the problems women face, not only in Lesotho but in Africa as well.

“Women and girls are treated as third-class citizens and I wanted to change that at the policy level. I have never looked back since then and I have remained committed.”

A governance specialist, she worked for several non-governmental organisations.

Her interaction with the Sekhametsi Investment Consortium started when she was engaged to provide corporate secretarial services. She says before that she had just admired the company from a distance.

“I had always wanted to be associated with Sekhametsi because it is a beacon. It has changed the perception about Basotho starting businesses and working together.”

“Here was a group of Basotho who had collaborated to build something amazing and they were still going strong together. That was an inspiring story.”

This explains why Maema could not pass on an opportunity to buy Sekhametsi shares three years ago.

When Sekhametsi started she was earning M880 at the photo lab and could not afford to buy some shares.

What she knew was to save her money in a bank. With hindsight, experience and exposure Maema says although saving is a noble idea people must strive to grow their money instead of just parking it in a bank.

The trick, she warns, is to find the right investment and the credible people to work with.

Sekhametsi fits the bill in all aspects.

Maema is now a director at the company, a position she treasures for several reasons.

The first is that as a corporate secretary she had come to understand  Sekhametsi’s vision, values and the work ethic of the board in managing the affairs of the company on behalf of the shareholders.

“I like working with astute and professional people. I like excellence and Sekhametsi has it.”

She recalls her grandmother telling her that work is like prayer in that “you must do it well for God to reward you”.

Second, this was her opportunity to contribute to the company with her experience in corporate governance. Third, this was an opportunity to learn about business as an aspiring entrepreneur.

“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because I get valuable experience while serving a company I love, among people with integrity.”

The fourth reason is that he wanted to be a part of a company helping to transform lives through investment and social intervention. Here she talks about Sekhametsi’s investment in telecommunications, property, financial services and manufacturing. This is in addition to the several corporate social investments Sekhametsi has made in communities.

“The company is touching lives through employment, targeted investments and social interventions.”

Maema says her time on the board and forays into business has taught her that nothing you learn goes to waste.

Before going to university, Maema enrolled for a Diploma in Business Management and Marketing. This was something she stumbled upon but it has come in handy.

“Everything happens for a reason. Everything eventually works together for good.”

Maema’s children did not see their grandfather who died before they were born but she is determined to impart the valuable lessons she learned from him.

“He used to tell me that no one owes you anything in this life. Whatever opportunities come to you are just privileges but you have to understand that you are your own greatest asset. You should never look up to people to do things for you.”

“People need to understand that a life of quick fixes, overnight success and instant gratification doesn’t last. Power and money pass but the values last forever. You must put in the work, that is what we must teach our children if we want to build a better generation.”

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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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