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Thebe’s ching-ching lessons

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MASERU – ‘GREAT losses are great lessons.’
This Asian proverb has proved true for Tokiso Nthebe, a young Mosotho financial management expert who rose from the ashes of his mistakes to the top of his profession.
Nthebe is now helping others handle finances better by using his experiences as an example.
“We have the responsibility to change our bad spending habits and be responsible on how we use our money,” said the 33-year-old.

His mission, through his TKO Consultancy, is to facilitate financial literacy and financial education.
Nthebe’s consultancy firm was registered in 2015, ideally to teach small and medium enterprise owners about finance.
“People can learn from my mistakes,” he said.
He said his first mistake as a financial banker was using his money recklessly.
His second mistake was to buy a car that he could not afford at that time.
“Since I was able to afford the monthly instalments, I thought I was affording it yet that was not the case,” said Nthebe.

Nthebe said his third mistake was to spend all his salary without savings for rainy days.
“I was living pay-check to pay-check,” he recalled.
The fourth mistake was getting into a clothing debt to the tune of M15 000.
“There was a point when I was in so much trouble in terms of my finances and the biggest problem was that since I am a finance graduate I was supposed to have handled it better,” he said.

Nthebe said he then wrote a blog on the seven financial mistakes he made during his 20s.
“Although it was not that easy to write about my mistakes on a blog, it got so much reaction immediately after I uploaded, and I realised that most of the youth are running into serious financial problems,” he says.
“That was when TKO Consultancy decided to move into financial education programs and financial literacy.”
H

e added that he used his financial qualifications, work experience and his mistakes to be a change agent.
He embarked on campaigns on social media, radios and TV and also wrote articles for Alliance Insurance in a newspaper column called Leruo.
He has so far managed to garner over 1,200 subscribers on his YouTube channel and has between 200 to 300 people who listen to his podcast.

Nthebe has also done a lot of webinars in different countries including Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Lesotho where 82 to 200 people attended, depending on the programme.
He is also hosting workshops and conferences.
“I have done a lot of financial education in the last two to three years,” he said.
Nthebe, who was selected to join the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States for six weeks, is also providing financial education to primary school students.

He says most of his clients are over 50 years old and “in those ages, it is so difficult to fix all their financial problems”.
He then decided to educate youths in their 20s.
“I was still not satisfied so I decided to target primary school students as well. I have since realised that the moment you start working with them and help them to understand what money is and how it works they make sound decisions,” said Nthebe.
Time management, discipline and being consistent are the secret to financial success, he said.

“The other important factors that I am preaching in 2022 is balance and holistic wellness, which is the practice of treating the whole mind, body, and spirit,” said Nthebe.
Despite being a financial literacy coach, Nthebe still has to fight his own urges.
“I try to strike a balance between my profession and my lifestyle since I am an adventurous person. I sometimes break my own rules,” he said.

Luckily, Nthebe has a circle of friends that he credits with keeping him in line.
“I ensure that I surround myself with people who hold me accountable and want me to be the best version of myself to succeed in everything that I do,” he said.
Nthebe said his family raised him through the business of selling fat cakes, chips and fish and that groomed him into becoming business-minded.

He says since he likes to own “nice things”, He would sell airtime at home and even at boarding school from when he was in primary school.
He says he used to sell some snacks too at school.
“I had the whole business happening at school. Sometimes I would play some games which pay cash,” he said, adding that he bought his matric outfit with cash from such cash generating games.

At university, he was involved in student leadership, mentorship and student promotion where he would promote different products to be paid.
“I also liked to write and I am now getting paid to write. I have always been that someone who likes to speak and I am now getting paid to speak,” said Nthebe, who credits his boarding school experience for fostering in him a sense of self-discipline.
He plans to grow his firm into one of the most known brands.

“Since TKO Consultancy is me, I want to see it grow beyond my person. It should be a stand-alone brand visible in all of Lesotho before penetrating the whole of Africa,” he said.
“My objective is to see Basotho literate in financial planning to make good decisions and to become financially free from scams and the depression brought by financial challenges,” said Nthebe.
Nthebe urged people to be responsible with their finances.

“Our responsibility is to have a good relationship with our money, to change our bad spending habits, think and plan for tomorrow, and enjoy our money,” he said.
He says most of his clients do not understand their income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and how these can help a business to boom.
Nthebe was born and raised in the Mafeteng Hospital Area.

He is a personal financial coach, financial literacy educator, a regular contributor to webinars and print publications, a content creator on platforms such as YouTube, articles, blogs, and the podcast he launched last year and a brand for The PR Network and Brand Network.
After completing his matric in 2006, he was enrolled at the University of Pretoria in 2007 where he studied BCom Financial Management.
After graduating in 2010, he furthered his studies at the same university doing an Honours Degree in BCom Financial Management.

In 2012 after completing his Honours Degree, he came to work in Lesotho where he was so fortunate to be enrolled in the Joint Graduate Development Programme at the Nedbank Lesotho.
In 2013 he got a job as a banker before being promoted to a Business Relations manager the following year, a role in which he was responsible for helping small and medium enterprises and banking clients with their banking needs.
In 2015 he joined several organisations, including Vodacom Lesotho, where he was a manager of Sales and Distribution.

In the meantime, he registered his company, TKO Consultancy and started nurturing it bit by bit and making sense of where he wants to go as a business person.
As part of his educational journey to enhance his skills, he applied for a Master’s Degree in Financial Management.
In 2019, he enrolled for a BCom Financial Planning degree.
“I realised that the BCom Finance Management course did not go deeper into financial planning. I wanted to do something special,” he said.

“In 2020, as I started working with a few clients I realised that as much as I had all these qualifications and work experience, there was a new element when it came to financial planning which is financial coaching,” he said.
He said he realised that he still needed to enhance his skills in financial coaching so that he would not only be able to help his clients but to make an impact as well.
He applied for a short course in Financial Coaching in 2010 at the University of Free State.
Nthebe says over time he realised that young people make a lot of financial mistakes regardless of their professions but he is on a mission to help them.

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City Council bosses up for fraud

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THREE senior Maseru City Council (MCC) bosses face charges of fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering.

Town clerk Molete Selete and consultant Molefe Nthabane appeared in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

City engineer Matsoso Tikoe did not appear as he was said to be out of the country. He will be arraigned when he returns.

They are charged together with Kenneth Leong, the project manager of SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture, the company that lost the M379 million Mpilo Boulevard contract in January.

The joint venture made up of two Chinese companies, Shanxi Construction Investment Group (SCIG) and Shanxi Mechanization Construction Group (SMCG), and local partner Tim Plant Hire (TIM), has also been charged.

Selete and Nthabane were released on bail of M5 000 and surety of M200 000 each. Leong was granted bail of M10 000 and surety of M400 000 or property of the same value.

The charges are a culmination of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) investigation that has been going on for the past months or so.

The prosecution says Selete, Nthabane, Tikoe, and Leong acted in concert as they intentionally and unlawfully abused the functions of their offices by authorising an advance payment of M14 million to a joint-venture building the Mpilo Boulevard.

An advance payment guarantee is a commitment issued by a bank to pay a specified amount to one party of a contract on-demand as protection against the risk of the other party’s non-performance.

The prosecution says the payment was processed after the company had provided a dubious advance payment guarantee. It says the officials knew that the guarantee was fake and therefore unenforceable.

As revealed by thepost three weeks ago, SCIG and SMCG were responsible for providing the payment guarantee as lead partners in the joint venture.

The prosecution says the MCC was required by law to make advance payment after SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture submitted a guarantee as per the international standards on construction contracts.

It alleges that the MCC has now lost the M14 million paid to SCIG-SMCG-TIM Joint Venture because of the fake advanced guarantee.

thepost has seen minutes of meetings in which officials from the joint venture admitted to MCC officers that the advance payment guarantee was dubious.

SCIG-SMCG-TIM kept promising to provide a genuine guarantee but never did. Yet the MCC officials did not report the suspected fraud to the police or take any action against the company.

It was only in January this year that the MCC cancelled the contract on the basis that the company had failed to provide a genuine guarantee.

Despite receiving the advance payment SCIG and SMCG refused to pay TIM Joint Venture for the initial work.

SCIG and SMCG, the lead partners in the joint venture, are reportedly suing the MCC to restore the contract. Officials from TIM Plant Hire however say they are not aware of their partners’ lawsuit against the MCC.

Staff Reporter

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Scott fights for free lawyer

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DOUBLE-MURDER convict Lehlohonolo Scott is fighting the government to pay a lawyer to represent him in his appeal.
Scott, serving two life sentences for murdering Kamohelo Mohata and Moholobela Seetsa in 2012, says his efforts to get a state-sponsored lawyer have been repeatedly frustrated by the Registrar of the High Court, Advocate ’Mathato Sekoai.
He wants to appeal both conviction and sentence.
He has now filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to compel Advocate Sekoai to appoint a lawyer to represent him.
He tells the court that he is representing himself in that application because the Registrar has rejected his request to pay his legal fees or appoint a lawyer for him.
People who cannot fund their own legal costs can apply to the Registrar for what is called pro deo, legal representation paid for by the state.
Scott says Sekoai has told him to approach Legal Aid for assistance.
The Legal Aid office took a year to respond to him, verbally through correctional officers, saying it does not communicate directly with inmates.
The Legal Aid also said he doesn’t qualify to be their client.
“I was informed that one Mrs Papali, if I recall the name well, who is the Chief Legal Aid counsel, had said that Legal Aid does not communicate with inmates so she could not write back to me,” Scott says.
“Secondly, they represent people in minor cases. Thirdly, they represent indigent people of which she suggested I am not one of them.”
“Fourthly, there are no prospects of success in my case hence they won’t assist me.”
He says the Legal Aid’s fifth reason was that he has been in jail for a long time.
Scott is asking the High Court to set aside Sekoai’s decision and order her to facilitate pro deo services for him, saying her decision was “irregular, irrational, and unlawful”.
He argues that the Registrar’s role was to finance his case to finality, meaning up to the Court of Appeal.
The Registrar insists that the arrangement was to provide him a lawyer until his High Court trial ended.
Scott says his lawyer, Advocate Thulo Hoeane, who was paid by the state, had promised to file an appeal a day after his sentencing but he did not.
He argues that the Registrar did not hear him but arbitrarily decided to end pro deo.
Scott says he wrote to Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase in 2018 soon after his conviction and sentencing seeking assistance but he never received any response.
Later, he wrote to Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane in November 2020 and he received a response through Sekoai who rejected his request.
Scott tells the High Court that he managed to apply to the Court of Appeal on his own but the Registrar later told him, through correctional officers, that “the Court of Appeal does not permit ordinary people to approach it”.
He argues that “where justice or other public interest considerations demand, the courts have always departed from the rules without any problem”.
Staff Reporter

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Army ordered to pay up

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THE Ombudsman has asked parliament to intervene to force the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to compensate families of people killed by soldiers.
Advocate Tlotliso Polaki told parliament, in two damning reports on Monday, that the LDF is refusing to compensate the family of Lisebo Tang who was shot dead by soldiers near the former commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s home in 2014.

The LDF, she said, is also refusing to compensate the family of Molapo Molapo who was killed by a group of soldiers at his home in Peka, Ha-Leburu in 2022.

Advocate Polaki wrote the LDF in January last year saying it should pay Tang’s mother, Makhola Tang, M300 000 “as a reasonable and justifiable redress for loss of support”.

The Tang family claim investigation started in February 2022 and the LDF responded that it “had undertaken the responsibility for funeral expenses and other related costs”.

Advocate Polaki investigated whether the LDF could be held accountable for Tang’s death and whether his family should be compensated while the criminal case is pending.

She found that the soldiers were “acting within the scope of their employment to protect the army commander and his family” when they killed Tang.

Soldiers killed Tang in Lithabaneng while she was in a parked car with her boyfriend at what the army termed “a compromising spot” near the commander’s residence.

The three soldiers peppered the vehicle with a volley of shots, killing Tang and wounding the boyfriend.

Advocate Polaki found that the army arranged to pay for the funeral costs and to continue buying groceries and school needs for Tang’s daughter.

The LDF, however, kept this for only four years but abruptly stopped.

When asked why it stopped, the army said “there is a criminal case pending in court”.

The army also said it felt that it would be admitting guilt if it compensated the Tang’s family.

The Ombudsman said “a civil claim for pecuniary compensation lodged is not dependent on the criminal proceedings running at the same time”.

“The LDF created a legitimate but unreasonable expectation and commitments between themselves and the complainant which had no duration attached thereto and which showed a willingness to cooperate and work harmoniously together,” Advocate Polaki found.

“The LDF was correct in withdrawing such benefit in the absence of a clear policy guideline or order to continue to offer such benefit or advantage,” she said.

“However, she should have been consulted first as the decision was prejudicial to her interest.”

She said the army’s undertaking “fell short of a critical element of duration and reasonability”.

Tang was a breadwinner working at Pick ’n Pay Supermarket as a cleaner earning M2 000 a month.

Her daughter, the Ombudsman said, is now in grade six and her school fees alone had escalated to M3 200 per year.

She said an appropriate redress should be premised on her family’s loss of income and future loss of support based on her salary and the prejudice suffered by her mother and daughter.

She said M300 000 is “a reasonable and justifiable redress for loss of support”.

In Molapo’s case, Advocate Polaki told parliament that the LDF refused to implement her recommendations to compensate his two daughters.

The complainant is his father, Thabo Joel Molapo.

The Ombudsman told the army in August last year that it should pay the girls M423 805 “for the negligent death of their father”.

Advocate Polaki said despite that the criminal matter is before the court, “it is established that the Ombudsman can assert her jurisdiction and make determinations on the complaint”.

Molapo, 32, was brutally murdered by a soldier in Peka in December 2020.

Molapo had earlier fought with the soldier and disarmed him.

The soldier, the Ombudsman found, rushed to Mokota-koti army post to request backup to recover his rifle. When he returned with his colleagues, they found him hiding in his house. The soldier then shot Molapo.

The LDF, the Ombudsman said, conceded that the soldier killed Molapo while on duty and that he had been subjected to internal disciplinary processes.

“The LDF is bound by the consequences of the officer’s actions who was negligent and caused Molapo’s death,” she said.

She found that after Molapo was killed, army officers and the Minister of Defence visited his family and pledged to pay his children’s school fees. They also promised to hire one of his relatives who would “cater for the needs of the deceased’s children going forward”.

The LDF, she said, has now reneged on its promises saying its “recruitment policy and legal considerations did not allow for such decision to be implemented”.

Molapo’s father told the Ombudsman that the LDF said “the undertakings were not implementable and were made by the minister at the time just to console the family”.

All the payments in the two cases, the Ombudsman has asked parliament, should be made within three months.

Staff Reporter

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