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Soldiers suffer from post-war



Lesotho’s soldiers who are returning from the war zone in Mozambique are beginning to show serious signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), thepost heard this week.
Families that spoke to this newspaper this week said they are concerned that the returning soldiers could turn violent and put their loved ones in danger.
Some said when the soldiers were allowed to come back home for a short period six months ago, they were already showing symptoms of PTSD.

“They had nightmares,” one family member said, adding that some were becoming irritable and harsh when dealing with their families.

“They could rise up and talk at night,” the source said.

“They have become violent”.

A United States-based organisation, Wounded Warrior Project, says in a recent research article, “PTSD is a very common condition for many veterans after military service”.

It says symptoms can include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress, difficulty sleeping, and changes in how a person thinks and feels.

In another article it says some veterans begin to have PTSD symptoms soon after they return from war.

“These symptoms may last until older age,” the article reads.

“Other veterans don’t have PTSD symptoms until later in life,” it says.

The article says PTSD symptoms can be high right after their war experience, go down over the years, and then worsen again later in life.
Lesotho’s soldiers were deployed to the Nangade district of Cabo-Delgado Province in Mozambique where they are fighting Islamist rebels.

The second contingency deployed to Mozambique returned home last Friday after spending 17 months in the war-torn zone.
The deployed soldiers were given a few weeks off in June this year and came back home to visit their families.

Sources said some of the soldiers had developed abnormal behaviour that left their families in distress.
One source said some of the soldiers could stand up and begin to talk alone as if they were still in a war zone.

He said it appeared that some of the soldiers were finding it difficult to cope with the traumatic stress.
He said the situation is likely to worsen after a second contingent recently returned home from its stint in Mozambique.

“They are given counselling for just two days. This is not enough,” another family member said.

Army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, said it is normal for soldiers returning from war to deal with post-traumatic stress disorders.

“It is normal, there is nothing odd there,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Before these returning soldiers could meet their families, they underwent counselling, he said.

“There are different counsellors in the army,” he said, showing that the counsellors attend to the soldiers spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Lt Col Lekola said the counselling sessions are free.
He said the affected soldiers should make use of this provision and come for counselling.

Lt Col Lekola said they have not received any reports about soldiers showing abnormal behaviour after returning from Mozambique.
He said the second group spent 17 months in the warzone because of the logistics on the part of SADC and they could not return within the six months as stipulated in their contracts.

Lt Col Lekola said counselling happens almost every time within the army, not only when soldiers are from war.
Lesotho deployed the first contingent of soldiers in Mozambique in August 2021.
A third contingent from Lesotho left last week to take over from the second one.

However, Lt Col Lekola said their deployment in the region has yielded positive results for the communities in the Nangade district.
He said out of 58 villages in the area, only eight were remaining while the rest had been deserted when the insurgents attacked.

“Fifty villages were either abandoned or burnt down,” he said.

“There was no life there,” he said.

Now they have restored peace and people have come back to their villages.

“There were no essential services because of the fight,” Lt Col Lekola said.

He said there were no schools and other social facilities because of the devastating war.

“Fields were no longer being ploughed but now they are planted and harvested,” he said.

Lt Col Lekola said water supply was disrupted and electricity connection cut off.

But since their deployment in the area, everything has been restored and returned to normal.

Majara Molupe

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Police hunt former minister



THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss



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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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race



THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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