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The ‘hit and run’ relationships

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MASERU-THE police officers would impregnate women, dump them and then refuse to take responsibility.
With no spousal support, life quickly unravels for the women. It’s hell for them.


Now the women are fighting back. They have formed a WhatsApp group to share their problems and offer advice to each other.


There is a worrying concern over the statistics of women battling to get police officers to pay for the maintenance of their children.
“We (the women) coincidentally met at the Children’s Court. We had gone to the court to seek a garnishing order,” ’Manthabiseng Matsepe, 36, said.

Since then, the women formed a WhatsApp group where they discuss their common problems.


Some of the police officers do not want to pay maintenance while others reject paternity.


Those who question the paternity of their children would usually seek a DNA paternity test, which is fairly expensive.

Others would be compelled to maintain the children after the courts issued a garnishing order.


Deputy police spokesperson, Sub-inspector ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka, said she is aware that many police officers are being forced to maintain their children.
All the women who spoke to this publication shared similar sentiments.


Matsepe said although the father of her child agreed to support his child after a garnishee order was issued, her major concern is knowing his exact pay day.


A garnishee order is a common form of enforcing a judgment debt against a creditor.
Matsepe said the court gave the father of her child alternative ways of paying the maintenance fee.


“The money is paid with Mpesa or Ecocash. But the bank is also an option,” she said.


In her case, a police officer (name withheld) fathered the child two years back but did not want to take responsibility.


Faced with such a scenario, she approached the Children’s Court to seek a garnishee order to force him to take care of his child.

In accordance with the court arrangement, she was supposed to get the money at least two days before the police officer’s pay day. That could be around the 18th or 19th of every month.


“That is what the court ordered but it never materialised,” she said.
She said she at times gets the money a week or two later and not at all in some instances. This continues to happen despite her tireless efforts to meet officials at the treasury department.


“Some of us went as far as meeting the Commissioner of Police himself,” she said, adding that “nothing has changed”.


Adding more salt to injury, people working at the police finance department have turned these desperate women into objects of ridicule.


“Every time we go to the salary department, the staff members in that office laugh at us. They call us prostitutes who are after police officers for money,” she said.


“But the police officers are not doing us any favours because they are bound by the law to maintain their children,” a visibly irate Matsepe said.
Matsepe claimed that the payslips of the police officers usually show that money would have been deducted from their salaries.

“We do not know how they explain this to their wives but it is part of the deductions reflecting on the payslips,” she said.


With teary eyes, Matsepe said the money is meant to support the children, including paying for their school fees.


Many of the women say they are trapped in financial difficulties as they single-handedly raise the “fatherless” children.


“We have to incur expenses as we wait for the money, and sometimes the money doesn’t even come. It is worrisome because this is happening almost every month,” said Matsepe.


Matsepe said the situation is heart-breaking for most of the women who are jobless and rely solely on the money they are supposed to get from the fathers.


“The pain is less for those who work,” she said.
The maintenance fee varies depending on the rank of the police officers.
Matsepe said the fees range from M500 to M2 000.


“This money is adjusted every year,” she said.
Another woman, ‘Malineo Khasake, 33, who lives in Mafeteng shared her story over maintenance fees.


She said her daughter is three years old. She said the father of her child, who is a police officer, took the child to his home to perform some rituals.
Then that police officer broke up with his wife.

“I do not know what led to the collapse of the marriage,” Khasake said.
Khasake said relations were cordial between her and the policeman before he was transferred to Leribe.


Once in Leribe, the policeman “completely forgot” about his responsibilities, Khasake said.


The interaction between them suffered because she could not follow him to Leribe because she is busy at her own workplace.


“I had no option but to take the matter to court,” she said.
Khasake said the court ordered the policeman to support the child and he accepted the court’s decision, agreeing to take care of the child’s food and clothing expenses.


“He used to pay with Mpesa or Ecocash,” she said.
The payments then became erratic and he would give her “a litany of baseless excuses”.


Khasake returned to the court seeking a new arrangement that would force the man to pay through a bank stop order.
She said the man has married another wife in Leribe, making her life even more difficult.


‘Malikenkeng Mohlapiso, 41, is a mother of two children aged 9 and 15.
She works at a hotel in Mafeteng and has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which has devastated the hospitality sector.


Telling her story, Mohlapiso said she got married to a police officer in 2005.
In 2009, her husband fell in love with a colleague and moved out of their marital home, leaving her struggling.


“I had just had our second child when he left. So life became tough as I had to take care of the children as the single parent,” she said.


Mohlapiso approached the Children’s Court for intervention. She said her husband informed the court that he had no interest in coming back to stay with the family.

The court ordered him to maintain his children nonetheless.
The problem, she said, was that the money comes late. Mohlapiso said she then approached the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli to demand answers.


“At the time, it was alleged that the bank they were using was the one causing problems. But when I exerted pressure to establish the cause of the delays, it was discovered that the salary section of the police was to blame,” she said.

Sub-Inspector Mofoka said the delays are caused by lengthy procedures.
She said after the money has been deducted from the police officers, the salary section has to ensure that the deducted money goes to the beneficiaries.


And from the Ministry of Police, the money goes to the Ministry of Finance.
From there, the money goes to the Central Bank where it will then be deposited to different banks where it goes to the beneficiaries.

“It has to be checked at every stage,” Sub-Inspector Mofoka said.
A paper published in August by Africa Press Net notes that lack of child maintenance has become prevalent in Lesotho to the extent that child maintenance orders have become like toothless bulldogs.


“The Children’s Court in its capacity has been awarding countless maintenance orders which are unfortunately not being honored and bringing those in violation of the law to account is a challenge,” the paper said.
“Who is failing the best interest of a child? Is it the lawmakers, the courts or law enforcement officers?”


The court was instituted to protect the welfare of children.
This encompasses the maintenance of a child regardless of whether the parents live together or not.


However, the paper notes that an alarming number of parents in Lesotho choose to defy maintenance orders.

It quotes Senior Resident Magistrate ’Manapo Motebele as saying “the Children’s Court has no law”.


“The issue of child maintenance is distressing. This is evident in the way cases of maintenance are being handled. White collar cases are easier to resolve, because if the accused individual evades an order to maintain a child, a garnishee can be served to their employer as a means of enforcing maintenance,” she is quoted as saying.

The human resource officer at the police, Inspector Thabiso Molefi, is quoted saying the human resources department has the authority to see to it that maintenance is paid in cases involving the police, soldiers or civil servants once a court order is issued.


He said failure to honor the court order by an accused person gives the plaintiff the right to attain a garnishee order.

The Child and Gender Protection Unit (CGPU) of the police is quoted in the paper saying that it does not interfere in any maintenance disputes “because maintenance in their opinion is a civil affair”.


The unit claims that there are no proper structures in law enforcement that allow it to interfere in maintenance matters.


“Shockingly, the element of contempt does not encourage the unit to interpose in such cases. It is evident that there are no laws regulating contempt as a crime in maintenance cases.”
NB: some names have been changed

Majara Molupe

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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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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