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Sex for higher grades



ROMA – KATLEHO Tlhapi, a fourth-year student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), was called to the office of one of his lecturers “to collect some papers”.
As soon as he entered the office, the door was shut.
The next minute, the lecturer was seducing him.

“I felt her hands patting my lower parts,” he recounted last week. He said he bolted out.
But he was called in again by the same lecturer on a different date.
She tried to seduce him.
Again, he fled.

He is one of the “lucky ones” to escape such escapades at the institution.
The country’s oldest university is reeling from allegations of lecturers seducing, or even demanding sexual favours from students.
Students that resist are at the risk of falling out of favour with the lecturers.

“I was scared because my friend had failed the past year, (and I was thinking) now this is happening to me,” said Tlhapi, suggesting that his friend was punished for rejecting a lecturer’s advances.
Tlhapi was speaking at a gender dialogue held at the Roma campus last Thursday.
He was one of two students brave enough to publicly share their experiences with an audience that included the university’s acting Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr Beatrice Ekanjume-llongo.

So serious is the concern that the university has acknowledged the issue and says it is taking measures that include new policies to fight sexual harassment of students.
Tlhapi’s story paints a picture of brazen attempts by lecturers of both sexes to force students into sexual encounters.
“She gave me a hug and it wasn’t the normal hug of wrapping one’s hands in an embrace. I felt her hands patting my lower parts as her hands were going down,” he said, with a sigh. “I felt

uncomfortable and pushed her away.” He said he left the office immediately.
Tlhapi said he found himself at the lecturer’s office for the second time at her invitation.
This time she locked the office after Tlhapi entered and told him that he would not attend lectures that day, he said.

He said the lecturer made sexually arousing moves after locking the office door, spicing them with lurid and sexual comments.
“She tried to give me a hug but this time around I did not allow her to come closer to me. As she approached, I turned to the door and saw that the key was still there. I unlocked and left the room,” he said.

He reported her to one of the university directors. The lecturer was suspended to pave way for investigations but was later absolved for lack of evidence.
There is no statistical data on sexual harassment cases at the university but authorities believe gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, is prevalent at the campus.
A study by researchers from the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, South Africa, found that broadly, female students were more susceptible to sexual harassment than their male counterparts.
In South Africa, 17.3 percent of male respondents and 25.5 percent of female respondents said they had personally experienced unwanted touching, according to the study.

The study revealed that 1.3 percent of males and 2.7 percent of female students admitted that they had been raped.
It said 10.8 percent of male respondents and 10.2 percent of female respondents had been coerced to comply with a sexual relationship on campus, according to the study.
Sexual harassment of students is not just an African problem.

The research found that in the United States, sexual harassment in institutions of higher learning takes place more frequently than imagined by many people.
They cited a study conducted at the Brown University in the United States, which revealed that among 234 female students, there was an incidence rate of six percent attempted rape and 3.8 percent rape cases.

In another study conducted by So-Kum Tang, Critelli, and Porter at the Chinese University of Hong Kong among undergraduate female students, there was 14.9 percent reported cases of attempted rape and 1.4 percent of rape cases. “The extent of this problem is unknown…It is important to determine the prevalence of sexual harassment in every institution so as to develop strategies that will help in prevention and reduction of its occurrence,” the researchers said in their report.

It was observed that intimidation of students into submitting to unwanted sexual advances in return for marks is prevalent across all universities.
Back home, NUL Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Beatrice Ekanjume-llongo said she was determined to root out the problem.
She said the gender dialogue was held as part of the annual 16 Days Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign – a sign of the institution’s commitment to tackling the problem.

The event also marked the launch of the university’s process of developing an institutional gender policy that would ensure that the university lives up to its mandate.
Dr Ekanjume-llongo said the NUL is mandated to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and build an inclusive society.

“The current NUL Strategic Plan has identified gender equality as one of the niche areas to be improved through research. However gender equality issues are not directed by any policy provisions, gender curriculum is scattered around faculties without any clear policy guidance,” Dr Ekanjume-llongo said.
Dr Ekanjume-llongo said the university management is fully behind the Gender Action Plan steering committee consisting of representatives from all of the university’s departments.

The committee is tasked with identifying strategies and actions to prioritise gender equality and mainstreaming in all the operations of the university.
Dr Matšeliso Mapetla described gender as a “very emotional aspect of our lives”.
“It’s lived experiences of women. It’s about relationships between men and women. It’s about how society organises itself, which again is responsible sometimes for violence that we see,” Dr Mapetla said.

Dr Mapetla said she has initiated the “Women’s Research Collective”, an on-campus programme to plug the gap on the lack of locally generated knowledge on gender issues.
Dr Mapetla said the gap was because much of the research on the subject was done by visiting scholars, who oft-times misrepresent women in Lesotho.
“They still do and we agree with them that lobola is a price. But if you interrogate that concept within the cultural context of Basotho, you’ll appreciate what it means,” she said.

’Mamakhooa Rapolaki

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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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