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Surrogate mothers



MASERU – FOUR years ago, ‘Makumane was approached by one of her cousins to become a surrogate mother for a foreign couple that was desperate for a baby.
It began as a lucrative agreement. The couple would pay for all the expenses as well as other perks. On her part, ‘Makumane agreed not to bond with the child, whom she had to surrender to the couple.
Although she was handsomely paid, ‘Makumane now regrets the entire episode, not least because she feels a deep sense of loss after surrendering the child to the biological parents.

“I still can’t get her out of my mind,” ‘Makumane told thepost.
A surrogate mother is a woman who gets artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm and then carry the baby and deliver it to the father and his partner to raise, according to is a website that says it is run by medical doctors and health experts “across a broad range of specialty areas to ensure WebMD’s content is up to date, accurate, and helps you live a healthier life”.
According to the website, “a technique called “in vitro fertilization” (IVF) now makes it possible to gather eggs from the mother, fertilise them with sperm from the father, and place the embryo into the uterus of a gestational surrogate.”

The surrogate then carries the baby until birth. They don’t have any genetic ties to the child because it wasn’t their egg that was used, according to the website.
Narrating her experience, ‘Makumane said she was screened to determine her wellness and the IVF procedure took place in Ladybrand in South Africa.
She said from the onset, the couple agreed to take care of her until the baby was born and paid for checkups at private hospitals.
She said although she had agreed not to bond with the child, she got emotionally attached once the pregnancy started showing.
“It was sad to have to give her up before I could even breastfeed her. I really wished I could have kept her because my first born was a son and I had hoped for a girl,” said ‘Makumane.

“But I had to stick to the contract regardless of how hard it was. I am slowly healing from my decision and there is a social media group I use as my coping mechanism as we share our stories in there.”
Married, ‘Makumane still went ahead with the procedure even though her partner and family didn’t understand it.
However, they gave her the leeway to make the final decision.
“At first, my cousin was the only one very supportive and eventually my family understood although it took them time.”
She said the couple lived in Lesotho for a while but ‘Makumane had no idea how they met her cousin.

Also involved in the process was her cousin’s father, a police officer who assisted with the signing of the contract.
“I still don’t know whether it’s legal and I had doubts about the offer. At some point, I thought she was planning to traffic me but the involvement of my uncle calmed me down,” said ‘Makumane, who was a factory worker at the time of the deal.
She said although it is said surrogacy is not paid for, some couples are desperate for a child that they can pay handsomely for the service.
“The couple built me a seven-roomed house, bought me an Audi and gave me M50 000,” she said.

‘Makumane said she regrets handing over the baby as “she looked cute”. “I am slowly working on getting over her, eventually I will succeed.”
‘Makumane said being a surrogate was stressful as she “suffered” for other people to have a child.
“It was worse as people around me didn’t understand the whole thing except for my cousin.”
She said she last saw the baby on the day she gave birth.
“I don’t know anything about her whereabouts or how she is doing wherever she is. I wish to see how grown she is…even a mere picture of her would make me feel better,” said ‘Makumane.
She said it wasn’t easy after parting ways with her.

“I regretted a lot and I can encourage people who are emotionally weak not to do it because it took me a long time to accept that the child is gone. The good news is that I now have a daughter.”
“The torture worsened when I witnessed people experiencing post-natal depression, disabilities and mental health problems after giving birth.
“I kept wondering ‘what if something like that happened to me?’ What if I went through the same thing? Yet it was not even my baby I was carrying. I got even more confused and swore never to do it again.”
She swore never to repeat it ever again.
“It’s a traumatising experience.”

SHE health clinic gynaecologist Dr Lineo Mabusela-Letlala said surrogacy is illegal in Lesotho.
“We don’t have its services at all.”
She said surrogacy comes in different forms – gestational where the surrogate mother is implanted with an egg and sperm of the couple. For Artificial Insemination (IUI), the sperm is injected directly into the women’s uterus without any intimacy and traditional, where the surrogacy’s own egg is used.
“IUI can be done all the time but it is tricky. A person can decide not to surrender the child, she can elope and leave. It’s all about trust,” she added.
In the legal procedure of surrogacy, she said garments are not supposed to be mixed.

With IVF, she said both the sperm and egg are implanted to the surrogate.
She said a number of reasons can lead to surrogacy such as a woman removing her womb, medically or socially or avoiding pain.
Dr Mabusela-Letlala said surrogacy is not practised in many countries. It is available in South Africa but not at all the facilities.
“The laws governing it are very strict.’’
She said a lot of screening takes place before a person becomes a surrogate. This includes screening for mental issues and psychological issues to ensure that the surrogacy is fit enough and also to understand how well versed the couple is on the process.

“The moment a surrogacy’s egg is used, she will personally feel that the child is hers leading to conflict of interest and such a person can legally fight for the baby. The surrogate shouldn’t be known. It has to be donated garments or that of a couple.”
She added: “After birth, the surrogate is not supposed to breastfeed the child and doesn’t even meet with the child. There is not even a bonding moment.”

She said in some areas, a surrogate is given a chance to hold the baby.
“Legally, it shouldn’t be happening, she shouldn’t be emotionally attached. In some places, surrogates are trained for professionalism.”
She said the practices done locally were illegal and there is no compensation for a surrogate.
“It has been happening traditionally and it is wrong.”

‘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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