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Nigerian in court for trafficking



’Malimpho Majoro

MASERU – A Nigerian national has been charged with trafficking three Basotho to Dubai where they were kept against their will. They were also forced to open multiple bank accounts for their captors.

Sikiru Rasheed pleaded not guilty before Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya this week. Rasheed, they told the court, was the one who facilitated their travel to Dubai and connected them with people they were to work for.

The third man, a 25-year-old Mohau Majara of Ha-Seoli in Maseru, an amateur football player for a village team, was promised a lucrative contract with a professional team in Dubai.

Majara was however given the task of opening bank accounts in his names with several banks in Dubai but his handlers never gave him ATM cards for the accounts he opened.

Even a cellphone he was made to buy on contract in his name was never given to him, he told the court. Majara said a young woman, also possibly trafficked, was brought to him together with a marriage certificate and he was instructed to sign it, which he did.

However, he never lived with the woman as a married couple as his captors immediately took her away. His national ID, passport and visas were all kept by his captors.

Majara told the court that he had known Rasheed as a fellow soccer player as they used to play together in Ha-Seoli. He said in October last year Rasheed told him that he could help secure him a football contract in Dubai.

“He told me that when I am done with my soccer trials in Dubai I would get R25 000 from him and if I was interested I should give him my passport,” he said.

“He requested my passport to prepare for my visa, which I did”.

Rasheed is said to have facilitated Majara’s trip to Vereeniging, South Africa, to meet another Nigerian called Amos who also arranged his travel to Dubai.

Majara was with another South African called Thato, also believed to have been trafficked, to Dubai. Majara said when they arrived in Dubai they were kept in a small room which already had four people from different countries.

“As we were in shock in that room, one man in that room told us that they were also lied to and had since been kept in that room,” he said.

The man, he said, told them that they would only go out when the Nigerians wanted to let them do so. He met his handler a week later, named Abu.

“He said he was pleased to meet me and was sure that I knew what I was going to do there,” he said.

When he told Abu that he was going to play football, “Abu told me I was mistaken as my work there was to open different bank accounts for him”. He told him that he would never use his documents to open bank accounts for Abu.

Abu called Rasheed and they talked in a language Majara did not understand. Rasheed told Majara that Amos had lied to him and never told him about the bank accounts job.

Rasheed advised him to take the job so that he could raise money for his flight back to Lesotho. Abu offered him 12 000 Dirham, (about M55 857) to open five to seven bank accounts for him.
Majara said he agreed to everything out of desperation.

The man who told them that they had also been lied to on the day they arrived in Dubai, said he had been offered 15 000 Dirham to open 10 to 15 bank accounts in his names. He said there were many trafficked people from South Africa.

One of them had a job to open bank accounts for different companies using his names as if he was an appointed official for the businesses.
Majara said a Nigerian woman assisted him register five different sim cards, one for communicating with banks.

He opened seven accounts using his documents. Some accounts were opened online without his knowledge. The phone for communicating with banks was always held by his captors.

When the banks called they would bring it to him. He said he sneaked out of the house in January.

“The only time I could go out was when my bosses were taking me to do their work. I was always locked in,” he said.

He said later Abu brought a woman with a marriage certificate ready to be signed and he signed it.

“I was told she was my wife and I would be doing all that work with her.”

He said at the flat the property manager told him he was aware of the work he was doing for the Nigerians.

“I told him the truth and that he should help me as I wanted to go back home.”

The man helped him by declining to sign a rental deal for the flat. Majara finally told Abu that he was roping in the police. Abu bought him a ticket to Lesotho. Abu, instead of paying him the promised 25 000 Dirhams, he paid him only 3 000 (about M12 000) when he left Dubai in February.

“Due to my desperation I had to accept the money,” he said.

An immigration officer said he would not board an airplane to OR Tambo unless he had a ticket to Lesotho, saying he did not have a visa. Majara said he had no time to argue that as a Lesotho citizen he did not need a visa to enter South Africa – all he wanted was to come home.

At the time, the Nigerians had disappeared, including Abu. That was when Majara talked to his brother in Lesotho who said he was proceeding to the police to have Rasheed arrested.

’Malimpho Majoro


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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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