Snuffed out in their prime

Snuffed out in their prime

MASERU – Pitso Mochela, 31, a factory worker, had just had lunch with his wife when he left his home in Thetsane.
Mochela’s sister, Litlhare Mothala, told thepost this week that her brother was part of the protesting crowd.

She says Mochela, because of fatigue, sat down by the road-side to rest when he was run over by a truck.
His wife also works in the factories earning about M1 800 a month.
Mothala said her brother was selling cigarettes to supplement his meagre salary.

Mochela and wife were working at the C&Y Garments Factory in Ha-Thetsane, where he was formally employed in 2018.
Before that, he was employed as a casual worker.
Mochela is survived by his wife and a two-year-old boy.
Mothala said what happened to them as a family is still hurting.
“We still cannot believe that this is what happened. The sad news has left us devastated,” she said.

“It’s like we would see him here again.”
She said they are still in shock and are trying to process their sad loss.
Mothala said her brother had a knack of generating money for the family by selling cigarettes to supplement his salary.
Mochela was renting some apartments in Ha-Tsolo so that he could be close to work.

His home is in Semphethenyana on the southern outskirts of Maseru, some 10 kilometres from Thetsane Industrial Area.
He will be laid to his final rest this Saturday.
Mothala said her brother was an avid football fan.
She said he was also stubborn at times.
But he was a lovely young man who knew how to look after his family and to care for others around him, she said.

She said Mochela was not aligned to any trade union.
Motšelisi Monase, 37, also died during the protests in Thetsane.
The police say a post-mortem report shows that Monase was stabbed by a sharp object during the riots, rejecting allegations that she was shot during the protests.

The police say they have opened a murder case to find Monase’s killers.
Relatives of Monase told this newspaper this week that they are still in shock over their loss.
On the night Monase died, the government had just announced that it would not issue a new gazette on minimum wages, an announcement that appears to have infuriated the factory workers.

The family says it does not understand how she died because she was still in her night gown when she died.
“She was still putting on her gowns,” Pusetso Adoro, a close relative said.
Adoro said Monase came out to join others who were protesting against the decision not to issue the gazette.

Unfortunately, Monase, a single mother who lived close to the road, took part in the protest and paid with her life.
She left behind two children, a boy and a girl.
She was born in Quthing, Motse-Mocha, Masitise.
Like most factory workers, she came to Maseru lured by promises of a better life in the factories.

All she wanted, according to her friends, was to get enough money to feed and educate her children.
With her salary of about M1 800 a month, Monase was taking care of her elderly mother and her two children. Her father died a long time ago.
Last Tuesday, the police, who were accompanied by some soldiers, came to disperse the striking workers who had turned violent.
Gunshots were heard.

Adoro said those who were with Monase informed them that she was shot and cried out for help.
He said Monase was lying by the road calling out for help.
He said they were told that when others came to assist, armed police chased them away.

Luckily, the deceased saw one police officer that she knew by name.
So she called that police officer asking for help.
She was rushed to the nearby Maseru Private Hospital.
Adoro said they were told that Monase was then transferred to Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.
“Thetsane police informed us that she was recovering at the hospital,” Adoro said.

With a shaky voice, Adoro said they were later informed that their daughter had died the next day.
“We were told she had already been taken to the mortuary,” he said.
Adoro said they were still communicating with Thetsane police about the death of his sister.
He said they were later told to go to the Pitso Ground Police where they were told when the post mortem would be conducted.

He said they only went to the mortuary to confirm that their sister was indeed no more.
“We never inspected the body. We just saw her face,”Adoro said.
He said the post-mortem results did not show that their daughter was shot.
It showed that she had two stab wounds around her waist, he said.
Faced with this reality, Adoro said they do not know what route to take.
Monase will be laid to rest in her home, Quthing, on June 19.

Tanki Sepamo, an organiser from the United Textile Employees (Unite), said Monase was a vocal and active member of the trade union who always wanted the best for workers.
“She was very vocal. Her input in our meetings was very massive,” Sepamo said.
Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said it is not true that Monase was shot.

He said the post-mortem results show that she was stabbed.
“It seems that the criminals took advantage of the chaos and committed crimes,” he said.
He said a case of murder has since been opened adding that investigations were continuing.

SSP Mopeli said they are aware of crimes that were committed during the factory workers’ protest.
He said there was theft, burning of tyres, and malicious damage to property among other crimes.
SSP Mopeli rejected charges that the police were heavy-handed in dealing with the protesters.

Majara Molupe

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