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Meet Lesotho’s computer whizz



MASERU-A curiosity to learn new things has turned into passion for a 21-year-old self taught computer software developer.
Thomello Matšasa of Ha Mabote has fancied himself as a problem solver since he was in his teens.

The first-year BSc General student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) said his interest in computers started when he was 13 years old in 2013 but did not think of it as a serious vocation at that time.
“I was always a curious young fellow and always passionate about learning new, exciting things especially in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Mathematics) domain,” he said.

“It is only now when I realize the ability that I have to translate my thoughts and ideas into actual working models (code). I have now gone on to have solid and well-planned milestones, goals in the direction of solving real-world problems.”
Apart from being a software developer, he has taken part in development projects by Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) such as Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Sentebale.

Matšasa was at one time elected as one of the Children Media Ambassadors under a programme run by MISA Lesotho.
He said their task as ambassadors was to represent Lesotho children in media presentations, local and international summits and discussions with children from other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
He said most NGO projects have dynamic and short time frames. “I have a few hours a day to spend on those projects and go back to being a developer.”

Describing himself as a “non-marketing expert”, he said he realised that the best kind of advertising in the current world “is not just the simple old social media advertising” or conventional media advertising but rather decentralised links”.
“A much simpler concept in its entirety, in which influential platforms or people just have to play the advertising role by just affiliating your product or link to your product is the way to go.”

Technology, he said, has had a great impact on him as a developer as more people and organisations started to realise the convenience of working remotely, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Development has gone from the old simple style of working a 9 to 5 work to online freelancing. So organisations are no longer looking for people to consume office space and resources, but rather highly skilled remote individuals who can complete certain tasks quickly.”

He added: “Personally, I am excited about this kind of work. It has opened opportunities to work with international clients.”
“I am extremely enthusiastic about software development. I find it a very challenging, yet exciting industry that is rapidly growing and impacting the lives of many human beings all around the world.”

“What fascinates me the most is just how it makes life easy, and just how it’s transitioning life from what it used to be to how we want it to be. I really don’t want to imagine life without it,” said Matšasa.
He said he does not view people in the same industry as his competitors.
“I think we all have different paths. Some of us want to build and grow large start-up companies that solve real life problems and some just want to pay bills. I want to respect that. But the real competition that I could confidently say I have is international, in platforms like Upwork which I use for my freelancing.”

“Competition is very intense there because there are millions of opportunities posted annually and every freelancer from across the world wants to take their chances and apply.
He said his simplest way to keep up with such competition “is just to keep learning as many things so that I have an edge over other developers.”
He said software development is one of the most volatile industries. “New things are being added each and every day so learning is key and primary.

My advantage is that I have the ability and the will to learn as many new things as possible in a short period of time.”
He said he has “a great support system” consisting of his family, friends and relatives who understand the sacrifices he has to take in his line of work.
“I was even given a room to decide what I want to do. I am very thankful to my mother, she is a very strong, smart woman who has raised me well.”
However, he said his experience with writing computer software has been one of ups and downs.

“It has been a very long journey full of long nights and sacrifices, it has been painful and it still is as I have lost friends that I did not intend to lose because of it.
“But it still excites me and though painful at times I will still choose it over other things.”
He said his biggest challenge was finding a community of people he could identify with. “People eager to develop exciting projects and ideas and people that can join hands with me, people with whom I can share a journey and help each to move forward.”

“To solve that problem I have decided to go out of my way to develop that community myself. I have started live coding sessions with some people and our aim is to help each other.”
He says his most successful public project was Thusanang Educational Network.
It is an online social networking platform he launched in March last year to help students learn together during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
He said other freelancing projects include Campus Talk Magazine commissioned by a company called Luna Star Media in partnership with Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT).

He says he learned a lot of lessons from his past projects.
“Any project I start is by me but not for me, so I have to accept any kind of feedback from the users of the project. I have to start small but iterate and pivot the initial project fast and effectively.”
He said he learnt that the initial idea was not always the best, “but it lays out a framework for fruitful possibilities and I realised that most Basotho support stories, not growth.”

Apart from his freelance work which he said was going “extremely well”, he says he is working on version 2 of Thusanang and other “exciting and amazing” projects which he hopes to launch and pilot soon.
“People should expect a lot of innovative ideas from me,” said Matšasa.

’Mapule Motsopa

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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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