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Singing the goat’s praises



MASERU – WHEN ’Maretšepile Kopo fell from an ox-pulled cart carrying water drums as a teenager, she was given goat’s milk and soon she was back to good health.

Thereafter, her nickname became ’Malipoli (Mother of Goats).

“I am not Kopo because I am a dairy goat farmer,” she explains.

“I am Kopo because my love for dairy goats and goats’ milk is deep. The accident inspired me to venture into dairy goat farming,” she said.

An award winning farmer from Naleli, north-east of Maseru city, Kopo said she was part of a group under the Topela Farmers’ Cooperative Society that travelled to Northern Cape, Strydenburg, to buy dairy goats in 2019.

“I bought Saanen and British alpine goats only,” said Kopo.

Topela was founded in 2019 by 15 members with the aim of breeding from their backyards. Every member is expected to give out two baby goats (potsanyane) to the cooperative for mass production.

“But that doesn’t stop a member from doing what they want with their backyard farming. Some do cheese, soap or lotion production.”

In 2020, Kopo’s goats gave birth.

“One gave birth to ‘twins’ (male goats) and another to a female goat. That’s when I started advertising on Facebook and advocating for goat milk for its health benefits,” said Kopo.

“Some people already knew about it even though they imported it from South Africa and were interested. The reception is very good,” Kopo said.

She added: “Rearing dairy goats is my passion so I go to great lengths to challenge myself. I learn and I am willing to be taught.”

She invested M25 000 as capital for shelter, two goats (each costs M7 000), food and medication.

Now she has three ewes of different breeds, Saanen, British alpine and Toggenburg and one male and a kid.

Just this year, she lost three ewes due to medical reasons and one of them was misdiagnosed.

“We need to prevent disease more than relying on curing animals,” she said, adding that medical attention has been “stressful” for her as a farmer for the past three years that she has been farming.
She sells bottled milk from 500ml to 2litres, while still working on standardisation.

She said apart from health benefits, goat milk is good for child development and to improve digestive systems as it doesn’t contain too much fat.

“It is also good for the skin either in soap or lotion. It has lots of benefits,” she said.

She said the Saanem breed produces “a lot” of milk with low fat content while the British breed produces medium fat milk.

Kopo said she retired as a teacher at one of the English medium schools in December 2019 to venture into micro-financing and off-sales but she is no longer active in that field for some “personal” reasons.

She teaches at an Early Childhood Development Centre and when she is not at school, she looks after her animals.

“Teaching is my part-time job and my love for children is transferring to goats. I really wish this industry could grow bigger. Now that I have realised information about the importance of a goat is available in many ministries but is not disseminated, I am more passionate about training more Basotho,” she said.

Although she is still trying to establish herself as a farmer and a breeder of dairy goats, the interest she has seen from Basotho is part of her key driving force.

“Goat milk is gradually gaining momentum and recognition in Lesotho,” she said.

Kopo won the Farmers Pitso award in August, and gained recognition from big companies such as FNB Lesotho.

“But my biggest achievement is being able to do what I love and to serve Basotho,” she said.

Growing up surrounded by farmers from her immediate family and relatives, Kopo said she always envisioned herself as a farmer even though she wasn’t sure of the exact venture she would go into.

“But I always wanted to do something. During our school holidays we used to go to the fields,” she said, recalling that at some point she paid to attend a workshop on pig rearing “but I wasn’t feeling it”.

Any enterprise has challenges and goat rearing isn’t an exception.

She says some customers use the milk as though it is medicine only when they are in pain. “It shouldn’t be like that,” she said.

Supplies of goats can be a problem.

“We still need to visit a farm which is far and this means other requirements. A lot of procedures and costs are involved. These include taxes and the cost of a state veterinarian. We need subsidies…currently subsidies for dairy goat farmers don’t exist in the country,” she said.

She said even if they could take an officer from the ministry along with them, farmers would still have to sponsor or cover all the officer’s costs for that trip.

She said finding breeders locally is becoming difficult because many have gone out of business or have retired.

“Now, it’s difficult to find these goats. It is my desire to be a breeder,” she said.

Kopo said people need to be trained to plug the resultant gaps.

“I would love to be a breeder because importing goats is expensive. If we had people who are able to get semen which would be cheaper then maybe we would be able to buy a lot.”

She said goat farming involves a lot of requirements, including grazing land.

“I think it’s high time the government identifies areas that could be leased long-term as farms and develop them so that we move from backyard farming to mass production.”

As a teacher, she said she has seen children struggling academically, and proposes that more attention be given to practical subjects such as agriculture.

“Such children need to focus on other areas. I would love to train such learners at my farm. They can eventually make a living after they complete training. I think that can be helpful.”

Kopo said the curriculum already includes entrepreneurship, so farming has to be included. “Already farmers exist and the funding to teach children and get them to learn practically from a farm isn’t much compared with other subjects that have a lot of requirements,” she said.

Her vision is to have a farm site producing cheese and butter, making pasteurised milk, raw milk and mafi in the next three years.

“I want a variety so that people will have options to choose from.”

She also wants to train students in farming and introduce a feeding programme in pre-schools for children to get used to goat milk at an early age.

“A lot of parents love buying it but because it’s a foreign taste for children, it becomes a struggle. It’s as though it’s something new, yet it should be part of their diet,” said Kopo.

She hopes Lesotho can have local breeders and farmers in all districts and also develop strategies that can help farmers improve their work.

“Not taking good care of dairy goats can lead to poor quality milk,” she said, adding that she also wants to produce dairy goat feeds to ease her job.

She plans to host a dairy goat farmers’ workshop in November and registration is ongoing.

This follows her realisation that some people already have the required breeds but had little knowledge.

“As Basotho, we don’t like reading but we can listen so through this workshop, I believe I will positively impact people’s lives. I want to make sure that they understand that it’s something doable.

If they are able to manage pigs, they can also manage goats and reap financial benefits as well.”

She said her programme is also intended to monitor people who are already in this industry.

“I will give them the necessary advice and assistance for their betterment.”

‘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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