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The thrill of online dating



MASERU – SEEKING love in modern times? A few habits to forget if you are to make it or break it: That letter through the postman, that eye contact at a church youth meeting or that surreptitious meeting to get to know the little personal details, like one’s favourite music. That’s all out of the window now.

Online dating. That’s the in-thing for those seeking a new flame, although danger is always lurking.
With a boom in access to the internet, especially the youths, online dating sites have become the go-to places to meet and “get to know” new people for both males and females.
Exciting, and probably convenient too in these days of limited social contact.

But dangerous too, not least because of the risk of fake online identities used by shady and criminal characters to prey on desperate lonely hearts.
For those with deep pockets, risk is limited by paying for professional sites with advanced security features, although many of them are found in richer countries.
However, the majority of people seeking love online use so-called free sites. The risks are higher.

Dumped by her boyfriend, Maleshoane ’Moneri from Quthing fell into depression. Lonely and sad, the 27-year-old went online. There she met “an English man” during last year’s lockdown. “Since it was a hard lockdown, I could not move around to meet new people. Out of frustration, I visited online sites to fish around for a potential lover,” she said. She shared her contacts and profile before later deleting them. It was too late. “On one of the days, I received a WhatsApp message from UK digits proposing love to me.

Apparently the man had taken my contacts before I could delete them,” she said. Instead of exercising caution, she blushed. “It was so amazing to be approached by a British man who seemed to be caring and loving. He called me all the beautiful names. Being called an African Queen was quite charming. The man really knew how to entice a woman. He was so romantic…I totally lost my mind.” What further tickled ’Moneri was the man’s interest in her future plans. “At times, he would promise to buy me a ticket so that I could fly to the UK. At times, he would suggest coming to

Lesotho himself. The man was charming and talked about life. He video-called me every time,” she said. She said the man would ask her what she needed so that he would send the items to Lesotho. “I told him that I was an emerging businesswoman working on a shoe-string budget. He promised me that he would inject some cash into my business so that it could grow,” she said. One of the WhatsApp messages from the man read: “These are in your gift package. 1 Apple laptop, 1 iPhone, 1 set of golden jewelleries, 1 set of silver jewelleries. 5 interllian Chanel handbags, 1 packet of gold watch, 2 sets of Chanel perfume and 1 sealed envelope of 60 000 British pounds”. He showed her pictures of the gift box supposedly being transported to the airport for onward transmission to Lesotho. “He told me that he would link me up with another guy at the airport in Lesotho who would help me clear the parcel.” For this to happen, she had to deposit M3 000 into a certain bank account. “I told him that I did not have that money. And he told me that I had to borrow because he had sent me a lot of money so I would be able to pay back,”

‘Moneri said. And then a guardian angel appeared. While she was still busy looking for the money, ’Moneri met her cousin who told her that the whole exercise was a scam. “That’s when I came to my senses. Otherwise I was going to be a victim,” said ‘Moneri. The desperation for love pushes many to plunge head on despite the risks. “It is tough out here. Some people do not understand how we struggle to get lovers. We need partners,” Lipuo Mohanoe, 36, said.

But it is often not easy to find a person that you truly love, she said.
She said people who visit the sites usually fish around for their matching lovers but that unfortunately does not usually translate into reality.
“Some men go there just to cheat women and swindle them out of their valuable property,” she said.
Mohanoe said people who look for marriage online usually end up in tears.

“Those sites are flooded with people who are philanderers,” she said.
Often, people fall for fake profiles.
“When you meet in person, you are like ‘oh no!, this is the opposite of what I want,’” she said.
Mohanoe said men usually use promises of material benefits to woo women online.

“Some men would pretend that they are rich so that they can hook up with women. Some women also share false profiles on the sites where they put fake pictures,” she said.
Deputy police spokesperson Sub- inspector ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka said they are battling cases of people who use online dating sites to commit criminal acts.
“We treat that as human trafficking that happens locally,” Sub-Inspector Mofoka said.

She said the practice is rampant among both females and males.
“For women, they are usually promised materials and some end up of being raped or killed,” Sub-Inspector Mofoka said.
Sub-Inspector Mofoka recalled a case of a woman who ended up being raped in Berea by a man that she had met on Facebook.
She said police routinely hold sensitisation programmes on the dangers of online dating.

“The sad reality is that it is difficult to trace crimes committed using these on-line sites,” she said.
Dr Lipalesa Mathe, a sociologist from the National University of Lesotho (NUL), said online dating sites are a gateway to both love heaven and hell.
In some countries, Dr Mathe said, online sites are paid for and regulated.
“It is serious and highly regulated,” she said.
In such countries, she said online sites are monitored to fish out shady and criminal elements.
“In Lesotho people are desperate so they become vulnerable,” said Dr Mathe.

Pressure to meet societal expectations such as marriage or having children often drives women into desperation that leads them to unsafe online dating sites, noted Dr Mathe.
Failure to live up to such expectations results in a girl being called derogatory names such as lefetoa, (one whose marriageable years have passed).

She said in other systems, young people are introduced to cultural practices such as seripe or serobolela (Basotho cultural set-ups where boys and girls old enough to get married meet) as part of physical socialisation.
Such arrangements may be a bit tenuous for love seekers locked out of the public by pandemic-induced lockdowns and also work commitments, said Dr Mathe.

Technology, she said, has given people the ability to connect remotely, sometimes ending in marriage.
Finding bliss online is possible, she said, but urged caution.
“Online dating is not wholly bad. Some people use it to get friends for emotional affairs where partners cannot meet even on a single day. This type of affair is used by high profile people because they do not want to be seen in the public glare. No sexual intercourse is involved,” she said.
*Not her real name

Majara Molupe

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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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