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The ‘prophets from hell’



A WOMAN who consulted a “prophet” to exorcise a “demon” she believed was troubling her is now battling for her life at Motebang Hospital in Leribe after the exercise went awry.
Ntsoaki Kasai has been bedridden for a month undergoing surgery after she suffered extensive burns when the South African prophet boiled muti and covered her in a blanket during a steaming procedure as part of the exorcism.

Kasai, whose skin is peeling off as a result of the incident, refused to entertain questions from the media.

Her uncle, only identified as Machake, said his niece is in excruciating pain following the unfortunate incident that took place on a Saturday morning earlier this month.
He said a prophet known as Siyabonga and going by the trade name of Koko Masithole hails from South Africa’s Kwazulu-Natal region.

Machake said the prophet visited the home of Kasai’s sister in Ha-Nyenye Maputsoe to help drive the demon from the family members, but it all ended in tears.
Machake said Kasai’s sister and her brother-in-law successfully underwent the rigorous exercise though.

The exercise was performed at the rented home of Kasai’s sister with the door closed to block any intruders from interfering.

Machake said his niece, like the others undergoing the exorcism, was asked to kneel down in front of a big washing basin filled with boiling muti.

She had to bow into the basin while her hands were touching the outer part of the basin and the upper part of her body was covered in a pile of blankets in order for them to absorb the steam from the boiling muti.

The prophet ignored his niece’s pleas that she was getting burnt from the unbearable heat.

“The prophet told her that it was the demon that was burning, not her,” Machake said.

“Instead of removing her from the boiling muti, he pressed her down saying the demon would get out of her body that way. Unfortunately, she lost her balance and both her hands dipped into the boiling muti. She got seriously burnt,” he said.

Her breasts were also badly burnt.

“Her right nipple had to be removed altogether. Her face got burnt too,” Machake said.

Writhing in pain, Ntsoaki was rushed to Maputsoe Filter Clinic for medical assistance.

What worries Machake is that his niece was asked to lie to the nurses that she was epileptic and that she fell into the boiling water when she was attacked by the seizure.

“The nurses were not told that the victim went through a life-threatening exercise,” Machake said.

Machake said the family was informed that the nurses transferred her to Motebang Hospital for better round-the-clock treatment from doctors.

Instead of going to the hospital as instructed, Kasai wormed her way back to her sister’s home where she suffered silently.

“She was applying cow dung and pig bile to the wounds,” Machake says, adding that home therapy did not work out for her.

After almost a week, she felt that she could not continue with the self-help as the pain became intolerable.

“There was a foul smell in the house,” said Machake, adding that they have since located the prophet with the help of the local chief and community policing forum.

“The prophet was remorseful over what had happened. He told us that he has been doing this job for 21 years without injuring anyone and has been in the country dealing with patients for a year,” Machake said.

He says the prophet has agreed to contribute towards Kasai’s medical expenses.

“He has already fulfilled his promise with some contributions already,” Machake said.

Machake said he went to the police to collect a medical form for her niece so that she could open a criminal case against the prophet but was told that he has no right to take legal action on behalf of Kasai as she is an adult.

“I was told that my adult niece can open a complaint on her own.”

Meanwhile, another prophet from the neighbouring Thaba-Tseka district is facing a culpable homicide charge in the magistrate’s court after a young boy died during an exorcism exercise.

According to court papers, Prophet Thabiso Makhetha of Jesus Power Demonstration from Mantšonyane in Thaba-Tseka allegedly killed the young boy as he tried to heal him.

The prophet, the prosecution says, was in Bobete, Thaba-Tseka, when the boy’s relatives brought him seeking spiritual help because the boy was allegedly sick. Prophet Makhetha was holding a church service to perform miracles.

Makhetha, according to the prosecution, started beating the boy using bare hands. When the boy fell down, the prophet tramped on him claiming that the demon was getting out.

The boy died there in front of the shocked congregation.

Realising that he was in trouble, the prophet fled on his horse leaving the congregation in shock.
He was later arrested and granted bail.

The two cases are part of a trend involving self-proclaimed prophets preying on highly superstitious communities in Lesotho and much of Africa.

Some buy airtime on radio to market their services and invite people to visit their churches for life-changing miracles.

Supposedly satisfied clients phone-in to the promotional radio programmes giving testimonies claiming to have received healing after meeting such pastors in a bid to woo others to join the crusade.

However, many desperate people seeking healing have fallen for the deception.

Last year, a pastor in Pretoria, South Africa, made members of his congregation strip naked and rode on their backs as he “prayed” for them.

Another Pretoria pastor, Daniel Lesego, made his congregation drink petrol and eat grass.

Pastor Penuel Mnguni, based in northern Pretoria, capped it all when he declared a live snake a chocolate bar and commanded the congregation to eat it.

This kind of behaviour is not limited to developing countries, as many people in rich countries such as the United States have been deceived using similar tricks.

In April 2018, in an article titled: ‘Pastor’s ‘Blessing’ Caused Brain Injury, Lawsuit Claims,’ a US-based attorney named Molly Zilli said “most church-goers expect their place of worship to be a source of healing and spiritual renewal”.

Dr Lipalesa Mathe, a local sociologist, said while people have a right to use faith as a self-fulfilling mechanism, they can’t escape the reality of life – hard work.

“There is no way that those people will get jobs if they are sitting at home. They have to look for a job and apply for it,” she said.

“If people want to have babies, they should have unprotected sex to fulfil that goal instead of asking for miracles from prophets.

“If people go to church asking the pastor to help them have a baby yet they have protected sex, there is no way they could have a baby even if the pastor prays for them,” she said.

Majara Molupe



A night of horror



THE police arrived in Ha-Rammeleke, a Mokhotlong village, in the middle of the night.
They stormed one house and found a couple sleeping.

They then dragged the man out and ordered him to follow their instructions if he didn’t want to be killed. Their order was that he should scream while announcing to his neighbours that his wife was gravely ill. The villagers who responded to the man’s plea for help didn’t know that they were walking into a trap.

The police rounded them up as they arrived at the man’s house.

Their night of horror has just begun.

Dozens of men and women were frog-marched to the edge of the village.

The police assaulted the men with sticks and whips. They kicked others.

In the crowd was Tebalo Lesita, a 48-year-old Rastafarian with dreadlocks.

He was called to the front and ordered to act like a Rastafarian.

First, they said he should sing Reggae while shaking his head so that his dreadlocks would wave from side to side. He did and they laughed.

“They also ordered me to mimic Lucky Dube.”

Lesita says he only shouted like he was singing because, due to fear, all Lucky Dube’s songs he knew had slipped out of his mind.

“I just mumbled some words as if I was singing. I have never experienced such torment before.”

“I only kept saying ‘Ye ye ye!’”, he says.

They laughed again.

Meanwhile, the police were hurling insults at him.

“I was told that I was smelling rubbish in the mouth.”

Lesita says the police then instructed him to act as if he was having sex.

And when he said he was tired of the act the police ordered him to act as if he was ejaculating.

He did and his tormentors roared with laughter.

The police, Lesita says, wanted him and other villagers to confess that they knew men who had shot and killed a man earlier in the village.

Lesita says after the ordeal that lasted nearly an hour the police ordered him to pray. He claims his body is full of bruises, especially on the buttocks.

“My body is aching all over.”

Lesita says he wants to sue the police but doesn’t know where to start.

“I understand that my human rights have been grossly violated but I do not know which legal steps to follow,” he says.

A week after the assault, he still hasn’t sought medical help.

Nor has he opened a case against the police.

“I find it impossible to open the case against them. I will have to go to the police station to open a case,” he says.

“How can I open the case against the police at the police station?”

As a sheep farmer, Lesita says he cannot afford the taxi fare to travel to Mapholaneng to report a case at Tlokoeng Police Station.

Lesita says he cut his dreadlocks a day after the incident “because they have put me into serious problems”.

“I rue the day that I started growing those dreadlocks,” he says.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, confirmed that there was a police operation in Mokhotlong but said he didn’t know how it unfolded.

Incidents of the police terrorising villagers under the guise of fighting or investigating crimes are common in Lesotho.

It is rare for police officers involved in such incidents to be arrested or prosecuted.

Majara Molupe

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Anger over Chinese businesses



FORMER Mining Minister, Lebohang Thotanyana, says Lesotho is shooting itself in the foot by allowing Chinese companies that win major construction tenders to import everything from China.

Thotanyana was speaking at the Basotho Business Empowerment Forum on Tuesday.

The forum was organised by the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Association.

Thotanyana told the forum that of all the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries, Lesotho is the one benefitting the least from hiring Chinese-owned companies for major infrastructure projects. 


Thotanyana said Chinese companies tend to “import everything save menial labour” in every government job they win.


“We only benefit minimally with the labour force,” Thotanyana said, adding that “more money goes back to the countries that have brought their own machinery”.


“This is exactly what is happening at the Polihali Dam which is under construction.” 


“There should be a value chain so that the economy grows.”


Tempers flared at the forum as local business owners accused the government of failing to protect them against Chinese businesses. 


The forum revealed the growing frustration among local business owners who feel the government is not doing enough to protect them against Chinese business muscling them out of sectors reserved for them. 


The local business owners criticised the government for failing to implement the Business Licensing and Registration Act 2019 that reserves certain businesses for indigenous Basotho. 


They told the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Thabo Moleko, together with a handful of MPs in attendance, that their patience had worn out.


“We want our business from the Chinese and Indians,” Thobei Motlere, the president of the MSME Association said.


“We are not afraid of these Chinese,” he added, adding that they could approach them head-on.


“We want to see the Act implemented now, not tomorrow or any other time. We want to push them out of the business peacefully. We want peace.”


Motlere said they have been pushed out of business by the Chinese yet there is a law to protect them “against unfair competition”.


“We have elected you as MPs but you are doing nothing to save us from the competition yet there is a law in place,” Motlere said.


The MPs tried to respond to some of the issues people but they were booed and heckled. 


“This is not the right place to answer. You should address this in parliament, not here,” said one woman in the crowd. 


Some MPs walked out of the forum in protest but were eventually coaxed to return to their chairs. 


’Maremi ’Mabathoana, a street vendor, said the Chinese sell almost every item.


“We buy from their shops so that we can sell small items. But the Chinese also sell small items,” ’Mabathoana said.


“When we sell a sweet for M1, they sell it for 50c,” she yelled.


“When we sell apples for M4, the Chinese sell them for M2. This is unfair.”


Moeketsi Motšoane, the Mafeteng MP who is the chairman of the parliament’s Natural Resources committee, said he is also facing similar challenges in his home district.


Trying to calm the irked traders, Motšoane said he could bet that some people were being used by the Chinese to kick Basotho out of business.


“There are such people amongst you who are being used by the Chinese to knock Basotho out of business,” Motšoane said.


He told the Ministry of Trade to move swiftly to implement the Act.


“If you do not implement the Act, we will drag you before the committee to account,” he said.


 Moleko, the principal secretary of Trade,  promised to implement the law. 

Majara Molupe

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Labour unions in nasty fight



TWO trade unions representing workers at Polihali Dam construction site have turned on each other.
Instead of fighting for better pay and conditions for members, the Construction, Mining, Quarrying and Allied Workers (CMQ) and the Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) are locked in a nasty battle that could be linked to a fight over membership.

CMQ alleges that LEWA officials intimidated its members who wanted to vote for a proposed strike against companies working at Polihali Dam.

CMQ also accuses LEWA’s secretary general, Hlalefang Seoaholimo, of conflict of interest which it says renders him unable to effectively represent workers in their battles against employers in Polihali.

CMQ says Seoaholimo is working as a union leader and an employer at the same time. This, CMQ says, is because Seoaholimo’s company, Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd, has been subcontracted by some companies working at Polihali Dam.

The allegations of intimidation and conflict of interest are part of the letter that CMQ’s secretary general, Robert Mokhahlane, has written to the Registrar of Trade Unions.

In that letter, seen by thepost, Mokhahlane pleads with the Registrar of Trade Unions to deregister LEWA over the alleged intimidation and Seoaholimo’s conflict of interest.

Mokhahlane tells the registrar that because of Seoaholimo’s shareholding in Domino Blasting, LEWA has “characteristics of a company, not a trade union”.

“At Polihali Dam construction, there (were) workers who were employed by Domino Blasting Services at various projects,” Mokhahlane alleges.

“They (Domino Blasting) have a long list of projects that have references and include some companies involved in the construction of Polihali Dam.”

Seoaholimo is one of Domino Blasting’s four directors and holds 300 of the 1000 shares in the company.

Mokhahlane tells the registrar that Seoaholimo cannot claim to be independently fighting for workers’ rights when his company is working with the same companies accused of unfair labour practices in Polihali.

He also accuses Domino Blasting’s human resource officer, Mpho Kanono, of being conflicted because she is also an official of the United Textile Employees (UNITE).

“Both the two officials (Seoaholimo and Kanono) are workers’ representatives within the Wages Advisory Board whereby Hlalefang Seoaholimo is the spokesperson of the workers,” Mokhahlane says.

Mokhahlane also accuses Seoaholimo of “intimidating workers who will be balloting for a strike action by encouraging LEWA members to observe and identify workers” who would participate.

He claims that Seoaholimo mocked a CMQ official who was mobilising workers for the strike at the construction site.

The Labour Code, which the registrar has been asked to invoke, says a union or employers’ organisation may be cancelled by the Labour Court on the registrar’s application.

Seoaholimo has however vehemently refuted allegations that his company is working at Polihali Dam. He told thepost that CMQ is in a campaign to tarnish his name and that of LEWA because “they are aware that workers do not want to join their union”.

He admits that he is a shareholder in Domino Blasting but insists that “as we speak now Domino Blasting does not have a job anywhere in Lesotho”.

“CMQ has to provide evidence that a company called Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd is working and has any employees in Polihali,” Seoaholimo said.

“Domino Blasting does not even have an office anywhere in the country because it is not working anymore.”

“They should identify the people hired by Domino Blasting (Pty) Ltd among workers in Polihali.”

He said the company has not operated in Lesotho since 2016 when it completed a project. Seoaholimo, however, says he is aware of a South African company with a similar name working in Polihali.

“I as a person have nothing to do with that company,” Seoaholimo said.

He said it is true that Mpho Kanono used to work for Domino Blasting back in 2016 when it still had contracts but she has since left because “the company stopped working”.

“Mpho Kanono is an official of UNITE and has nothing to do with Domino Blasting at present moment.”

Staff Reporter

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