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Khomari’s harvest of thorns



MASERU – TŠELISO ‘Frisco’ Khomari could have been a millionaire footballer, at least according to his own claims.
Instead, he went for politics. After having his heart broken by his party, the 63-year-old regrets not taking up the footballing offers that came his way earlier in life.
“I regret that I did not take the opportunity,” he says of offers that came from teams abroad.
“I missed an opportunity to make money, a lot of money,” he says with laughter.
Inside, he is raging with anger though. Twice, politics have hurt him.

The first time was when he was cajoled into leaving his teaching job at National University of Lesotho (NUL) with promises of an assistant ministerial post by former Prime Minister Mosisili’s LCD party.
The promise never materialised. He did not ditch the party and soldiered on.
Now he is complaining of being backstabbed by a trusted party colleague.

Khomari stood for elections in Thaba-Phechela constituency, where he lost to the Democratic Congress (DC)’s Mohau Hlalele.
However, his latest source of bitterness is how he sourced money for the party only to be thrown under the bus by a colleague who went on to claim credit for himself.
“I was the principal secretary for the Ministry of Communications and I had a network of contacts who contributed in the LCD campaigns,” Khomari says.

“I managed to raise about M500 000 from my contacts, not for my own benefit but for the benefit of the party, to contribute to the party’s election campaign,” he says.
Khomari says one of his closest allies in the Communications Ministry was a close friend of one of the main sponsors and knew about the fundraising project.
When the funds were about to be released, the colleague rushed to party leader Mothetjoa Metsing and claimed to be the one behind the fundraising.
Nobody in the party believed Khomari was the brains behind the project.

“Imagine how angry and disappointed I was. I had used my own resources, going to Gauteng in South Africa and meeting several people in various places negotiating for funds,” he says.
“I became bitter but continued with my plans to stand for the LCD,” he said.
As if that was not enough, the party leadership started accusing him of deserting the party for the newly formed Alliance of Democrats (AD), led by the current Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.

“You will not understand how hurting it is when your leader tells you face-to-face that you have joined another party, having reached a conclusion about you and not giving you a chance to hear your side of the story,” he says, the initial laughter replaced by a stern look.
He says others accused him of having defected with former LCD member Selibe Mochoboroane to form the Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Khomari admits he was close to Mochoboroane because he was the one who helped him find a job as a principal secretary.
“However, I am still a member of the LCD. I have not moved.

“I have not joined Mochoboroane,” he says, adding that he is learning the hard way.
“I never knew that things are done this way in politics.”
Maybe he should have known better, having been “betrayed” before.

Khomari was a lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) when the LCD leadership convinced him to actively join politics, with promises that he would be appointed Sports Assistant Minister.
“The then leader Pakalitha Mosisili had said I would help the then minister ’Mathabiso Lepono. I was happy and I accepted. I was made a senator.”
He was never appointed to the position and remained a senator until 2012 when the nation went for national elections again.
“I had left my job and after that I was no longer employable in the country because I now had a label — the party I was with had lost elections and the incoming government had no space for me,” he says.

Even private companies associated him with politics and were uncomfortable employing him, he says.
Khomari recalls qualifying for a job in one of the government departments only to be told that “we were advised not to hire you”.
He later landed the principal secretary position with the help of Mochoboroane.

“I have learnt a lesson the hard way, that there are back-biters in the party and that the leadership will not always seek to hear your side,” he says.
“Our politicians are self-centred and will not consider you even if you are dedicated to the cause of the party as long as they will not personally gain.”
Politics was not Khomari’s first calling.

A son of Commissioner of Prisons, Molemo Khomari and a mother who was a housewife, his life centred on sports, school and home.
At the age of 13 in late 1960s he was already playing for the country’s elite league, now called Premier League, and says he was the youngest player in the confederacy.
He was playing as a striker for School Boys, a team that was highly rated in those years.
After enrolling at NUL, he joined the university team called Rovers.

Khomari also played for Matlama and Bantu, two teams that down the years have dominated local football.
Khomari was also a national player for tennis and athletes as well as high jump but focussed more on football.
It was because of his excellence that several United Kingdom teams spotted him during intervarsity games held in South America, and they started wooing him to join them, according to Khomari.
But his father would not allow him to leave school for football because in those days Basotho did not see it as a wise career move.
“They (football teams) would write my parents several letters but my father would not let me go.

“He used to say education was a key to success. I agreed with him then, unaware of what I was actually missing,” says Khomari with a tinge of regret.
When Khomari retired from playing, he founded a team called Ambassadors, but “I could not maintain it financially until I agreed when King Letsie III took our status for his Mabeoana FC”.
“That’s how Ambassadors was blotted out of history.”

As a NUL staff member, Khomari was involved in the running of Rovers until he joined football politics at the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).
He was once a long serving secretary general, and at one time a deputy president.
That was the first time he came face-to-face with politics — football politics.

Khomari says he had found sponsorship from Vodacom — the first M800 000 ever sponsored for football in the country – when the association’s executive committee shocked him.
“I had invited them to a meeting where the Vodacom executive members were to be present and to my shock the LEFA executive did not show up,” he says.
Khomari says he took a referee and one of the staff members of the association and asked them to pretend to be executive members “and the meeting went smoothly”.
This kind of petty politics disappointed him.

He says what also killed his morale was when he drew a five-year development plan but was never supported by the association.
Later, he was accused of stealing money for a football development programme, of which he was overseer.
Yet, Khomari, born in 1954 in Maseru, admits nothing had prepared him for the treachery in the world of national party politics.

Caswell Tlali

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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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