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‘Maseribane dares teachers’ union

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MASERU – A nasty war of words has erupted between a minister and a spokesperson of teachers’ unions. The fall out which further illustrates the widening gulf between teachers and the government follows a threat by unions to resume their strike when schools open.

Teachers have been having intermittent strikes since last year over an array of grievances they say the government has failed to resolve despite several meetings and promises over the past year.

But now matters seem to have come to a head, with each party digging in its heels for what is likely to be a long-drawn brawl.

This week Communications Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, who leads a ministers’ subcommittee dealing with teachers’ grievances, aimed his ire at Letsatsi Ntsibolane, the spokesperson of the three unions.

In an exclusive interview with thepost, ‘Maseribane described Ntsibolane as an “embarrassment” for allegedly instigating teachers to strike when negotiations are still going on.

‘Maseribane was responding to Ntsibolane’s threat that teachers will resume their strike because the government has failed to deal to resolve their grievances.

“I am disappointed and embarrassed with Ntsibolane,” he said, adding that Ntsibolane “does not consider a hard work behind the scenes but just considers street noise”.

“If Ntsibolane decides to go on strike let him proceed. As for me, I am here working for Basotho,” ’Maseribane said.

He said Ntsibolane was playing to the gallery instead of finding an amicable solution to a problem.
The minister said he presented his committee’s report to the cabinet on Tuesday.

“On Thursday the committee will have another meeting to review its progress,” he said, adding that while Ntsibolane is threatening another round of strikes the government is already dealing with the teachers’ grievances.
This was confirmed by the Teachers Service Department (TSD)’s finance manager, Tseleng Putsoa, who said they are already paying substitute teachers whose outstanding salaries were part of the unions’ complaints.
On underpayments, one of the grievances, Putsoa said they agreed to recalculate the taxes.

She said they processed the ‘hardship allowances’ but other departments are yet to do their part to complete the transactions.

She said some of the delays were caused by glitches in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), the government’s financial system.

Ntsibolane is however not hearing any of that, insisting that the strike is going ahead.

He said the government is not negotiating in good faith and is buying time to delay their strike.

Ntsibolane said when they suspended their strike earlier this year ‘Maseribane’s committee started “dragging its feet”.

“The ministers’ subcommittee dismally failed to deal with our grievances and not only those which need finances but even those which need political will,” Ntsibolane said.

He said Education Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa and the committee had enough time to deal with the issues but have “dismally failed”.
“We gave them enough time and they failed, now who will blame teachers for going on strike?”

Ntsibolane said the teachers will work only a week in a month until the government gives in to their demands. He however said their strike will not affect examinations.

He said parents should pile pressure on the government if they want teachers to get back to work.

“So education itself is at stake even though people will not realize the effect quickly,” he said, adding that when students start roaming the streets parents will see that this is a disaster.

He said although they have a list of more than 20 grievances they will focus on a few critical ones.

Top of the agenda, he said, is an eight percent salary review that he said is long overdue.

The teachers also want the government to allow them cash in on 50 percent of their salaries before they retire.  Currently, they are allowed to withdraw 25 percent of their pension.

They also want the ‘hardship allowances’ reviewed from M275 to M1500.
Ntsibolane said the government also reneged on its promise to pay teachers according to qualifications.

He said the government is also yet to reverse the decision to hire teachers without following procedure.

The Grade Seven textbooks that government promised to provide by April are yet to be delivered, he said. He said some of their grievances don’t require money but political will to resolve but the government keeps procrastinating.

Nkheli Liphoto

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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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