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Tsatsanyane: a magnet for trouble?



MASERU – Mokherane Tsatsanyane was only 10-years-old when his mother, ’Mamokherane Tsatsanyane, was arrested and thrown into Maseru Maximum Prison on a charge of high treason.
It was not just his mother who had been picked up; other relatives too who were aligned to the then main opposition Basotho Congress Party (BCP) had also been arrested.
Their arrest came weeks after the BCP’s military wing, the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA), made an audacious attempt to seize power from Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.
The move was swiftly crushed.

And then came the mass arrests by the government that saw Tsatsanyane’s mother and many other BCP sympathisers being arrested.
The arrest of his mother, of all people, came as a massive blow to Tsatsanyane.
As a 10-year-old boy, he could not wrap his head around the fact that his mother posed any serious threat to the State.

He just could not understand why his mother, whom he saw as the most peaceful individual on earth, could be arrested while his father, whom he saw as a political “hot-head”, had been spared.
His mother was to spend the next 18 months in prison until Chief Leabua Jonathan was toppled in a military coup in January 1986.
“The detention of my mother made me a very bitter young boy,” he says. “I hated anyone who spoke about the Basotho National Party (BNP, Chief Jonathan’s ruling party).”
But it also sowed within his young, fertile mind seeds of political activism that have continued to grow till this day.

After his mother was released in early 1986, Tsatsanyane says he and his brother survived an attempted assassination after some soldiers, who were unhappy with the ouster of Chief Leabua Jonathan, pumped some bullets into his bedroom at the family’s home in Upper Thamae.
The Tsatsanyane family said they resolved never to fill up the bullet holes on the walls, as a vivid reminder of the immense sacrifices they made in the push for democracy and freedom in Lesotho.
He says they later learnt that the soldiers were accusing Tsatsanyane’s father, Chaltin Tsatsanyane, of working in cahoots with a “renegade” soldier, Colonel Sekhobe Letsie, to topple the Lesotho government.

He admits that his father held clandestine meetings with Sekhobe who he says was working with a faction of the army to topple the “dictatorial government” led by Chief Jonathan.
“My father was part of the whole thing and all I wanted then was to be a soldier to fight this government,” he says.
He says he genuinely believes that his father wanted to “help Lesotho become a stable democracy but every time he would be in trouble”.
Tsatsanyane says it was this realisation that they were fighting a beast in the form of the Jonathan regime that nudged him into politics.
“I wanted to change the whole concept of opposition politics in Lesotho.”

Tsatsanyane became active in politics in 1995 when he was just 21. He was elected the BCP youth chairperson of the then Boqate constituency in Maseru.
With the BCP in mortal decline following a spate of damaging splits, Tsatsanyane moved to the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party at its formation in 2006.
Tsatsanyane became head of Thomas Thabane’s close security unit when he was still an opposition leader, a task that soon brought him onto a collision course with the then government led by Pakalitha Mosisili.

In 2007, Tsatsanyane and five of his colleagues in the ABC fled the country after they were accused of stealing 28 guns from the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), a charge he still insists was spurious.
He says they were never tried or convicted by the courts of law.
Tsatsanyane and his colleagues only managed to return home in 2009 following a “deal” they signed with the government. That two-year stint was not the last time he would experience life in exile.

In 2015, Tsatsanyane, now working as Thabane’s bodyguard and also MP after his official opposition security was withdrawn by the government of the day, again he fled Lesotho together with Thabane and other senior opposition leaders
Thabane claimed the then army commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli had attempted to usurp power on the night of August 30, 2014 and that his life was in danger.
Tsatsanyane says he was accused of leading the UTTA, which was said to be an “underground” military wing of the ABC.
Like his father, the straight-talking Tsatsanyane denies that he is a magnet for trouble. All that he wants to see is a prosperous and stable Lesotho that will rightfully take its place in the community of nations.

But to achieve that dream will take a generational shift “when this current generation of leaders is no longer there”.
“This country will only be stable once the generation of Mosisili and others go home. That is the only time we will have peace. They have all tried and they have all failed,” he says.
Tsatsanyane says the other problem is that we have political leaders “who have been active in politics for too long”.
We need to decontaminate our toxic politics, he says.

“All our issues can be traced to our past,” he says. “We need a new generation of leaders without these background issues (interfering with our politics).”
Tsatsanyane says he will stand for elections at the party’s elective conference in February next year. He is eyeing the party’s treasurer’s position.
The elective conference is however “tearing us apart”, he says.

The lack of unity within the ABC and the rise of “Johnny-come-latelys” is also miffing Tsatsanyane. He says does not know some of the characters vying for leadership positions within the party.
Tsatsanyane says he is particularly not happy with Professor Nqosa Mahao’s candidature for the deputy leader’s position arguing the “good professor” has no solid track record within the ABC.
He says Mahao has no “scars of the struggle that some of us have” and was until recently a member of the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).
That in itself should disqualify the professor, he says.

The ABC is under growing pressure to start grooming a successor to Thabane, who is 79, a task Tsatsanyane says the party will find difficult to perform.
That is because Thabane’s political boots will be too big for anyone within the current crop of leaders within the ABC to fill.
“We currently don’t know who will fill his shoes. I also believe we don’t have anyone who can fill his shoes.”

He says he is praying that “Thabane stays on at the helm of the party for the next five years to allow us to groom a successor”.
“Mahao can’t be the leader; we need to give him at least 11 years to grow his base within the ABC. When we were exiled twice, we never knew Mahao but at least I can relate to my other comrades seeking the same position. These are my comrades.”

Once elected treasurer for the ABC, Tsatsanyane says he intends to use his business acumen acquired over decades, to build and strengthen the party.
He says it is a shame that after 11 years of existence, the ABC still does not have its own offices.
“We want to make drastic changes to the way the party is managed. The party must have its own building where we can rent out office space. We all cannot work in government. We need to start party projects to generate funds.”

Tsatsanyane’s colleagues in Parliament torched a storm two weeks ago after they demanded a 100 percent increase on their salaries. MPs currently earn a gross salary of around M30 000.
But Tsatsanyane says those who are complaining have no idea of some of the outrageous requests that come their way in their line of duty as MPs.
For instance, he says over the last three years when he became MP, he has buried at least 68 people in his constituency.
Each funeral costs around M7 000, he says.

“People do not understand what my role is as an MP. All they think is that you must be there to serve them. You must get them some jobs so that they eat. Everyone thinks you have money. And when we cry about our small salaries, people just do not understand.”

He says without his mechanical engineering business, he would not have managed to help people within his constituency.
“Thirty percent of my profits I plough back into my constituency. For me being a politician is a calling. I am happy when I help someone every day.”
Tsatsanyane says he is the only MP who has a constituency bus that he uses to ferry ABC supporters to rallies. He also uses the bus to ferry mourners within his constituency during funerals.

Staff Reporter

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Doctor tampers with corpse



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



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



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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