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Tributes pour in for Molefe



MASERU-MPALIPALI Molefe, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP who died last week after a long illness, will be laid to rest at his home in Sebelekoane in ’Maliepetsane constituency tomorrow.
He was 69.

Molefe will be remembered as a specialist in the diamond industry. He was also a key player in the construction sector.
His friends who spoke at his memorial service in Maseru on Tuesday said Molefe was a jovial character who had a wicked sense of humour.
He was also passionate about business and economic development, they said.

“He was such a good man and despite the health problems that he was going through he managed to smile,” said one of his friends from Zambia.
His son, Thabo Molefe, said the father would not undermine anyone in his life.
“He taught us never to look down on someone and we grew up with such principles,” Thabo said.

He recalled how his father had set up his own diamond school called the Lesotho Diamonds Academy.
“The opening of the school was very successful and we are proud that the school still continues even today even though we went through a lot of difficulties here and there,” Thabo said.

Molefe pledged to take up the mantle from where his left had left and ensure that the school continues to operate.
He said through the Lesotho Diamonds Academy his father met a lot of influential players across the world, sharing and researching information on how other countries regulate their mineral resources.
He said his father always criticised the way Lesotho’s diamonds were being lost to other countries without benefitting the locals.

“He assisted in the formulation of the mining policy and I thank the mining sector for allowing the diamond centre to continue,” he said.
He recalled how his father, after an educational trip to Botswana, was so excited about the diamond sector only to be frustrated by the massive bureaucracy at home.
Molefe said his father wanted Lesotho to have a museum, especially when Lesotho had recovered unique diamonds, saying the entire world would visit Lesotho and that would enhance the economy.

The ABC youth league spokesman, Mphonyane Lebesa, said Molefe was a jovial character at party rallies.
He described Molefe as a hard worker for the party since its establishment in 2006.

“It is unfortunate that he was never appointed a minister despite the hard work he put in for the party,” he said.
Lebesa said party leader, Thomas Thabane, had lost a valuable asset for the party with the 2022 elections just around the corner.
He urged all ABC members to go back to their good old ways because Thabane did not form the party for conflicts and individual interests to thrive but to advance Basotho’s interests.

He said the ABC members should know that by fighting they are hurting the people who support and vote for the party.
’Mathato Phafoli, who is also an MP for the ABC, said Molefe always fought for peace and stability in the ABC.
“He was always (wearing) a smile and he always wished for the oneness of all ABC members,” Phafoli said.

He said ABC members should allow Molefe’s death to unite the party and bring peace and unity adding they “must start talking the same talk as ABC MPs”.
“It is embarrassing that every time people talk, they are talking about ABC Members of Parliament fighting each other,” she said.
The ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, said Molefe was “a kind of a clown who always made people laugh irrespective of their problems”.
People genuinely liked him, he said.

Hlaele said they know their weaknesses and their strengths adding that ABC members should unite and not be allowed to split on factional grounds.
He urged the ’Maliepetsane constituency to meet and carefully choose Molefe’s successor.
The Stadium Area MP, Mokherane Tsatsanyane, who last year defected to join the Alliance of Democrats (AD), said Molefe protected them in his own house before they fled the country in 2017.

He said slammed party officials who think they are the only ones who should enjoy a better life.
“Some people call themselves ABC members yet Thabane is there at Makhoakhoeng where he is living with a heavy heart due to ABC members who do not respect him,” Tsatsanyane said.
“Now the prime minister does not answer Thabane’s calls yet he made him a prime minister,” he said.

Tsatsanyane said he is regretting not choosing Sam Rapapa as the Prime Minister instead of Moeketsi Majoro whom he said had left them disappointed.
He said Molefe and the late Eddie Poone, a Maseru diamond dealer, donated M30 000 for him to buy an ambulance in his constituency.
“Today I do not have both of them,” he said.

He said Molefe should have been made a minister of mining as he had expertise in the field.
Molefe will be remembered by his eagerness to stop famo related murders in his constituency.
Molefe, who was also the chairperson of the parliament portfolio committee on natural resources, believed that Lesotho could graduate out of poverty if it could use its untapped natural resources to the fullest.
Molefe was the only MP dealing with diamonds.

His love for diamonds began in Letšeng Diamond Mine where he worked as a senior technician doing daily recordings of the diamond production.
Molefe had 37 dependents apart from his wife and three children.
He was a Mosotho who believed in Sesotho customs of taking care of his siblings’ orphans and widows.
Born in a family of seven children where schooling seemed impossible, Molefe was fortunate to enrol with Sebelekoane Primary School in 1956.

Molefe wormed his way to the secondary level where he enrolled with Holy Name Secondary School in Bela-Bela in Berea district.
While he was at Holy Name, he was expelled by the management because he was always after girls during those days.

What made him famous in those days was that he was a soccer player.
After being booted out of Holy Name, Molefe says he headed to ’Masentle High School back in his home district in 1974.
When he completed his studies at ’Masentle High School, Molefe enrolled with the then National Teachers Training College which is now called the Lesotho College of Education in 1975.
He had an insatiable desire to be one of the most educated not only in his village but at country level.

He was attached at ’Mabathoana High School where he produced good results in Commerce.
After graduation, he went to Nazareth High School which was later renamed Morapeli High School where he became a headmaster.
Molefe left teaching and worked as an Assistant Accountant at the Lesotho Mohair Project.

He later joined Letšeng Diamond.
Alongside his work as the MP of ’Maliepetsane, Molefe was still working as a diamond dealer.
Since he always wanted to venture into uncharted territories, Molefe got involved in Labour Construction Unit where he saw himself working as contractor.

He started Molefe Civil and Building Construction Company in 1986 where he built schools around the country.
He also constructed roads in some parts of the country.

Nkheli Liphoto

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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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