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’Maesaiah ‘victim’ speaks out

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MASERU – FRESH details have emerged of how First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane flew into a fit of rage last Saturday, with the hospital management denying that she was provoked.
The hospital said the First Lady seemed to have been already in an aggressive mood even before the fist fight.
Mrs Thabane had rushed to Maseru Private Hospital to see a woman who had been hit by one of her cars.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was with her and allegedly witnessed the nasty altercation that left one woman with a headache after the First Lady allegedly pulled her hair in a rage.
Hospital manager Mokutu Makara told thepost in an exclusive interview that Mrs Thabane was angry because she was under the impression that the victim was not being treated.
“There were no open wounds on the patient hence she had to wait for an X-ray in a resuscitation room,” Makara said.
“The X-ray specialist was not on duty and had to be called to attend the patient.”

Makara said while the patient was awaiting the X-ray, staff on duty heard that the Prime Minister and the First Lady were on their way to the hospital.
“It was reported to me that the staff prepared to give the Prime Minister a warm welcome due to his status.”
He said on their arrival, the First Lady demanded to see the doctor on duty and asked why that patient was still waiting to be attended to. She was told that the patient was awaiting a doctor specializing in X-rays.

Makara said Mrs Thabane was quarrelling with the doctor when the X-ray specialist arrived.
“The First Lady’s argument was based on the poor service delivery from the on duty doctor. The person who was accompanying the patient tried to calm the First Lady saying that they had been helped but she did not listen.”

“She was accusing the foreign doctors saying they were Makoerekoere who didn’t want to attend to Basotho patients,” Makara said.
Makoerekoere is a deeply derogatory term for black Africans from north of the Limpopo.
Makara said the fight started when the patient’s relative, ’Manthati Mabothile, told the First Lady to calm down because the patient had been attended to.
Mabothile said the First Lady pulled her by the hair and started punching her on the head.

“I fell down on her feet and I was kneeling down as she continued hitting me,” Mabothile said. “I called and asked everybody to stop this woman because she was pulling my hair and it was hurting.”
A nurse and a porter came to her rescue but their clothes were torn in the fracas.
Mabothile said a nurse managed to extricate her from the First Lady’s grasp and hid her under a table in another room.
“When I tried to get out, the nurse stopped me and she asked me if I knew the woman who was assaulting me,” Mabothile said. “I said I did not know her and she told me that she is the Prime Minister’s wife.”

Makara said the Prime Minister’s attempt to restrain the First Lady came to naught and he walked back to the car.
The bodyguards later pulled her away.
“She was insulting and saying words that we cannot repeat,” Makara said.
“They were embarrassing obscenities, phrases so vulgar that they are not worthy of repeating for any ear.”
The doctor, a foreigner, hurriedly left the scene and locked himself in a consultation room.
A security guard tried to intervene but the First Lady crudely told him to stop, saying “I am going to put this hospital back into working order”.
The First Lady’s spokesman, Silas Monyatsi, told a local radio station that Mabothile was drunk. Monyatsi said it was Mabothile who provoked Mrs Thabane.
But when asked about the doctor’s statements that Mabothile was polite when she told the First Lady to calm down, Monyatsi said he could not talk much about the issue because the matter has been resolved.

He however insisted that Mabothile was the one who attacked the First Lady.
Mabothile said her hands were in her pockets when Mrs Thabane pulled her by the hair and started hitting her on the head until she fell.
“That my hands were in my pockets shows that I was not fighting,” she said.

“I just told her that our patient was being attended to but she did not even wait for me to finish answering,” she added.
Mabothile however admitted that she was drunk.
“It is true that I was drunk but I maintain that I did not attack the Prime Minister’s wife. Even the people in the room saw that my hands were in the pockets.”

Mabothile also said after the incident she had a severe headache which did not stop until the following day, “and I had to buy some pills”.
“She aimed at my head as she was punching it while pulling my hair,” she added.

Water Affairs Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, who is also the All Basotho Convention (ABC) secretary general, later went to the hospital on that day to apologise.
Makara said the hospital is not considering suing the First Lady after Ntsekele’s apology.

He however said the hospital will beef up security and install CCTV cameras.
Bodyguards came a moment later to remove the First Lady from the room.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spokesman, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi, declined to discuss the issue.
He however said “we have to take it to the appropriate office so that we find out what exactly happened so that we can also evaluate if the matter is worth discussing with the public”.
Brigadier Ntoi said in VIP protection secrecy is mandatory.

“An element of secrecy is very important so we will seek advice if we are at liberty to discuss issues pertaining to secrecy on VIP protection,” he said.
“We do not want to put anyone’s life in danger.”

Nkheli Liphoto and Senate Sekotlo

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

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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