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Marriages from hell



MASERU – ON the surface, Lieketseng Maaka, (name changed) looks happy and full of life. But deep down in her heart she is scarred. The 53-year-old wishes she could just erase her marriage from her memory. She divorced her husband of 23 years in 2007, not because he was adulterous but because he was lazy.
“I prepared myself and my three children for it,” she told thepost with a straight face. Her smile quickly faded as she described her marriage as one to forget.
“I asked them (the children) about the life we were living with their father,” she said.

“I thought it was going to affect them negatively when I told them that I was planning a divorce.”
Her son failed Form E and she realised that the divorce had affected his academic performance.
“My husband was a lazy and abusive man,” she said. “I was living like a widow yet he was still alive.”
Maaka complained that her husband, whose name she refused to mention, “did not want to do anything but expected me to work for him and the children”.

“He was working in the mines but he resigned so that he could come and stay at home.”
“I always believe that God created a man to be a provider but my husband was the opposite,” she said.
Maaka recalled the day when she called him to talk about the divorce.

“We did not communicate at all but that day, I told myself that I was going to face him.”
She told him that since it was December he should find himself a house to rent or she would be the one to move out of the house.
When the month ended, the husband gave her some money “with the mentality that I was just joking when I told him that I did not see us together in the future anymore”.
“I told him that he should find himself a wife and I also would find someone.”

Maaka told the High Court in her divorce papers that the reason for her divorce was nothing other than the husband’s laziness and failure to provide for the family.
Now, after 13 years of divorce, Maaka says she feels lonely but at the same time fights hard to erase the picture of her ex from her mind.
“I make sure that I forget him,” she said. “Almost every man admires my beauty but he never told me that I am beautiful.”
Maaka’s marriage experience is one of the ever increasing cases in the country, with 1 924 divorces recorded in the High Court over the past five years.
In January 2020 alone, the High Court granted 43 divorce decrees.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, on average there are 2 500 civil marriages registered in the country per year since 2014.
In 2019 there were 535 divorces, rising from 486 in 2018.
The divorce rate has been steadily growing by an average of about two percent.

One example of heart-breaking divorces is that of Thabo Sehlabo. He realised early in his marriage that he was not going to live with his wife for the rest of his life.
Sehlabo says he had always been patient with her, trying to understand her character but he finally gave up.
“My wife was always out with friends, she was working and earning more money than I did,” Sehlabo said.
“She would sometimes tell me that was her money she was using so I should not interfere with her business,” he recalls.

Sehlabo said he felt as if he was not a man enough in the family, especially because of the wife’s financial muscle.
“I saw her as more advanced than I am. I was not in her standard and I had to go out and find another woman of my standard,” he said.
With insufficient funds to sue for divorce, Sehlabo asked his wife to lodge the divorce case in the High Court and promised not to oppose it.
He promised to let the wife take everything they worked for together, including custody of their only son.

“I had to lose everything, including my only son whom I have a special bond with and that hurts me most,” he said.
They were married for 10 years and divorced in 2018.
Another divorcee, Mojalefa Nokana, said it took him 10 years to understand his wife and by that time it was too late.
Nokana said he only realised what his wife needed from him during the divorce proceedings.

“It was too late for me to say sorry as I had already damaged her heart and feelings,” he said.
“I would always come home late at around mid-night. At first my wife would tell me she does not like it when I come home late as I put her to worry too much on my whereabouts,” he said.
He explained that it took his wife more than five months trying to explain to him that he should be home early to spend some time with his family.
“I would always feel annoyed every time when she talked to me because she would cry hard and would even explain why she was crying,” he said.
“She told me that I would never see her tears anymore and I became more abusive,” he says.

He says he knew his wife would never spend a day without checking on him and he thought she was cheating when she told him she could not do it anymore.
“Even if she was cheating on me, I now understand that I pushed her to do that because I was never around to understand her tears and comfort her,” he said, regretfully.
“I remember when I pulled her with her hair, and pushed her outside in the rain and locked the house telling her to go to that man who cared about her,” Nokana said, his voice shaking.
He said he never thought his wife would divorce him because he was always providing her with everything she needed: a house, food, clothes and other items.
“But I was never at home,” he said.

“After I was served with the divorce papers, I read the grounds and I did not finish reading because I knew it was true. I just went to her and asked for forgiveness, the only thing I realised was fear and tears in her eyes,” he said. The High Court granted the divorce in June 2015.
These cases are just a drop in an ocean of divorce cases in both the customary courts and the High Court.
Customary courts hear customary marriage cases while civil rights marriages cases are heard in the High Court.
The Bureau of Statistics last updated the country’s divorce rates in 2013.

The data on divorce relates only to marriages solemnized by civil law and not by customary law as many customary marriages go unreported.
The district of Maseru had astoundingly high numbers of reported divorces (48 percent) followed by Berea district with 14.1 percent.
The rest of the districts had less than 10 percent of reported divorces with Mohale’s Hoek, Mokhotlong and Quthing both accounting for 2.6 percent of the reported divorces.
The observation here is of high divorce rates in the northern part of the country, where the districts can be characterized by an urban settlement as opposed to their rural counterparts.
Maseru ranked high in divorces as observed since it has many women (54.9 percent) than any other district filing for divorces.
Likewise 42.4 percent men in Maseru were observed to have filed for divorce, indicating that more men file for divorce in this district as opposed to other districts.

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Itumeleng Khoete

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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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