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The angels of hope



…Queen’s Trust Fund sends children back to school…

MASERU – If all goes well, Lesenyeho Mahlomola, 28, will in two years’ time graduate from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, an important qualification that should put him in good stead for a well-rewarding career in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Besides a potentially promising career, there is, as he pointed out to our news crew in an interview this week, the bonus of setting a family record that he needs to think about.

When he graduates in 2022 Mahlomola will become the first in his family to hold a university degree, not a small achievement for someone whose school career was 13 years ago essentially a write-off.

Forced to quit school just after completing his primary education in 2006 because there was no money to pay for high school, Mahlomola – who says he learned at a very young age to “strive hard” and “persevere” – took up a job herding cattle in his rural Mpharane home in Mohale’s Hoek district.

Next he would try his hand working as a conductor on one of the taxis that ply the Mohale’s Hoek town to ’Masemouse route.
By then Mahlomola says he had given up hope of ever setting foot in a classroom again. Unable to raise enough cash from his menial jobs to send himself to school and without any hope he could get help with money for school fees he had simply resigned himself to his fate.

But Lady Luck, as she often does in cases like this, would come to the rescue when with the help of the Assemblies of God Church that he attends. In 2012 Mahlomola found himself in the audience of Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso.
That encounter with the Queen that church youth leader Ntoetse Letsie helped set up would, as it turned out, literally reset the former school dropout, cattle herdsman and public taxi conductor’s life.

Offered an opportunity to go back to school funded by the Queen’s Trust Fund, Mahlomola grabbed it with both hands, enrolling for Form A with the Mount Tabor’s Assemblies of God High School – a good six years late than he should have.

While it is understandable that Mahlomola would take the first available opportunity to go back to school this, however, meant he would be sitting in class with children six years or more younger than him, something many would balk at.

But not Mahlomola. He said the age difference or the fact that he would look out of place among the younger children bothered him the least.
His dream to finally quench his thirst for education was far bigger than concerns about whether he looked taller, older or bigger than his classmates, he said.

“I knew this was what I wanted,” he told thepost, adding all negative thoughts about his situation could not overshadow the greater goal to learn. And as the cliché goes, the rest is history.

Now in his second year at the NUL, Mahlomola has become an inspiration to youths in his village, thanks to his diligent use of the opportunity that came his way and thanks also to the Queen’s Trust Fund whose efforts have helped give hope to many children across the country.

Established in 1985 by the late Queen ’Mamohato Bereng Seeiso — and now under the leadership of Queen ’Masenate since the 2003 death of the former – the fund seeks to alleviate suffering of children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, including those living with disability.
It raises funding from local donors and through events such as its annual gala dinner held at Avani Maseru last Friday.

The fund certainly needs all the support it can get given the tough assignment that it has set itself, trying to help lift out of poverty children in a country with the high levels of privation such as Lesotho.
But it is a challenge that the fund has so far been equal to as Mahlomola or Katleho Mosate, another beneficiary, will testify.

Mosate, who is also a volunteer with the fund, said it was playing critical role in communities, telling our news crew that once she gets a salaried job she will be contributing to its coffers because she has witnessed firsthand the immense work it has before it.
“The conditions I have witnessed of vulnerability among children are distressing,” said Mosate, whose work at the fund includes helping identify poor children needing support.

“Children are subjected to the lowest, most inhumane experiences of poverty in some parts of the country and this is why I pledge to contribute to the fund when I start working,” added Mosate, who like Mahlomola would have had to cut her studies prematurely were it not for the fund.

When she could no longer afford to pay for her development and sociology studies at the NUL, Mosate dropped out to look for a job.
She got one in neighbouring South Africa as a domestic worker, an experience she described simply as having been “horrific”.
When it failed to work out in South Africa, Mosate returned home and approached the Queen’s Fund for assistance to pay for her studies.

But it could not help because its policy requires that it assists children in primary and secondary school only.
However, the fund did not shut the door on Mosate, offering her a job and instead of paying her salary directly to her the money was channeled to the NUL as payment for her tuition fees. As result she was able to carry on with her studies, successfully graduating last September.

In another case where the fund stepped in to save a school career, Teboho Mosothoane was firmly set to spend the rest of his life herding sheep in Quthing where he comes from because there was no money for further education after he completed primary school in 2011.
But it all changed, he said, when one day in 2013 he received a call from Letsie, the Assemblies of God Church youth leader, “telling me I had been chosen to be part of a scholarship programme”.

Using the savings accumulated from his earnings as a shepherd, Mosothoane travelled to Mt Tabor High School to begin secondary education.
It has not been easy and the 22-year old Mosothoane has had to hustle hard on the side to raise money for other essential expenses not covered by the scholarship.

But his efforts paid off as he successfully completed the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) examinations.
Mosothoane, who said he cannot thank the Queen’s fund enough, said he is looking forward to enrolling for tertiary education in the coming year.
And there are many across the country who, like Mosothoane, Mosate or Mahlomola, will vouch that they had given up hope until the fund stepped in.

Rose Moremoholo


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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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