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Rose Moremoholo

MASERU

WHEN Bokang Ralentsoe’s case was finally heard in the magistrate’s court last week, it was expected that the man who had abducted her and had admitted as much to the court would be sent to jail.

The suspect, 32-year-old Ramasike Metsing, also faced a charge of malicious damage to property after he smashed her cell phone when he abducted her. Pleading guilty to all charges, Metsing told the court he had abducted Ralentsoe because he wanted to marry her.

The very least the court would do, so thought her relatives, prosecutors and the police, was that Magistrate Peter Murenzi would either fine him or give him a suspended sentence. They were wrong.

The magistrate acquitted Metsing on grounds that Ralentsoe was not a child but a 21-year-old woman when Metsing promised to find her a job and later abducted her with intention to marry her without her consent.

The magistrate dismissed the prosecution’s case of abduction solely on grounds that Ralentsoe was 21 years old when Metsing abducted her.

The offences happened in November 2014.

Metsing was only ordered to pay Ralentsoe M1 000 as compensation for her damaged cell phone.

According to the prosecution Metsing was a vendor at the Sefika Bus Stop in Maseru while Ralentsoe looking for a job. The court heard that Metsing called Ralentsoe and told her that he could find someone who could give her a job and said they could meet the prospective employer together.

They took a car to Mazenod, Ha-’Mantšebo and Koro-koro in search of the person Metsing said he could offer Ralentsoe a job. It is said along the way Ralentsoe’s phone rang and when she tried to answer it Metsing grabbed it and smashed it.

Instead of taking her to meet the employer Metsing took her to his sister’s home where, upon arrival, he said he had abducted her with intention to marry (chobeliso in Sesotho). The court heard that the sister rejected the idea of abducting the woman and also told Metsing that he had not even bought clothes for a newly married as is expected in Sesotho custom. The court heard Metsing wanted to have sex with Ralentsoe but she refused.

In the morning, the sister took Ralentsoe to Metsing’s aunt in Mazenod. The aunt advised her to report the matter to the police, which she did. Metsing told the court that all these things were correct as told by the prosecution. Ralentsoe’s case is just one of many cases of women who are abducted and married against their will.

Magistrate Murenzi’s judgement only illustrates how women abducted for marriage struggle to get justice. In a surreal way it also brings to fore that courts’ attitude towards victims of chobeliso, a common cultural practise that has stood the test of time, modern legislation and a huge shift in culture.

Today chobeliso as a way of marriage is generally frowned upon but remains rampant especially in rural Lesotho. Under the practise a man can abduct a woman he wants to marry.

One such woman is ’Mamohato Moshoeshoe of Qacha’s Nek town who said she was born and grew up in Matatiele in South Africa but married in Lesotho. Moshoeshoe says she was attending school in Matatiele when one day after school she went with some girls to collect firewood and on the way they met Lesotho men.

She was in love with one of the men, Lepoqo, who upon sight told her that he had come to take her to his home because he wanted to marry her. Moshoeshoe says she tried to plead with him that he should allow her to complete school but Lepoqo did not listen and instructed the men he was with to drag her away.

Moshoeshoe says it was in 2005 and she was only 17 years old. On that night they arrived at Lepoqo’s home where she was welcomed and given a bed to sleep for the night. In the morning she was asked if she was in love with Lepoqo and when she said yes, a man was sent to her home to report to her parents that she had been abducted for marriage.

“I wept but nobody seemed to care. I wanted to tell them that I was not ready for marriage but it seemed nobody wanted to hear me,” she says. However, she says she accepted that she had been married and “up to this day I love my husband and she loves me too”. Moshoeshoe however experienced what could be viewed as the nicer version of chobeliso. That’s because in its extreme type chobeliso  doesn’t involve love or even slight acquaintance. A girl does not need to know the man for her to be abducted for marriage. In most cases the girl is raped, tortured and beaten as she is being dragged to her abductor’s home. Victims tell harrowing stories of how they were frogmarched to a strangers’ home for marriage. When they tried to resist they were raped and brutally beaten, all in the name of a culture.

There are different opinions of the legality and or criminality of abducting a woman for marriage.

Some view it just as morally not good while others see it as a criminal offence.

According to the Laws of Lerotholi, the abducted girl’s parents are entitled to claim compensation of six cattle from the abductor’s parents before they can agree on lobola or the bride’s price, if after all there will be any marriage to talk about.

Some churches punish abductors and his parents by denying them certain religious entitlements like partaking in the Holy Communion.

A local defence lawyer, Advocate Christopher Lephuthing, says crimes committed during abduction of a girl with intention to marry her are seldom prosecuted in the courts because in most cases the police mediate between the families to forgive each other.

Lephuthing says when the girl’s family report abduction and crimes associated with it, the police arrests the abductor but instead of taking the case to the prosecutor they arrange for talks between the two families which ends with the girl’s parents agreeing to go for a compensation of six cattle.

“We are Basotho and our police understand our customs and they do their utmost to ensure that the two families build peace and settle out of court,” Lephuthing says.

“This answers why we do not have cases of crimes committed during abduction or abduction cases themselves. If these cases were treated like any other case, they would be as many as sexual offences and assault cases,” he says.

The National Coordinator for End Child Marriages campaign in the Ministry of Social Development, Thabo Lebasa, says cases of abduction are seldom reported to the police “because of our cultural beliefs”.

“In most cases they are reported only when relations have soured between the two families or between this marrying boy and girl,” Lebasa says.

He says according to a recent Demographic Health Survey, Lesotho has 19 percent of child marriages and 15 percent of teenage mothers who are married.

In his dissertation titled “A Christian Analytic Approach of Marriage Through Abduction Among the Basotho people of Lesotho: a challenge for pastoral care ministry”, a Christian scholar Joseph Molapo says he is personally hurt when a girl is abducted.

“As a young boy it was always painful for me to see Basotho girls being abducted by more than one man, i.e. those who accompany the one who had marked a girl for marriage,” Molapo says.

“I could hear a piercing cry of a girl who was being captured when she was trying to resist the abduction.”

And a young girl will always try to free herself. She could be beaten for persistently resisting the abductors.

When this drama takes place, a Mosotho girl would definitely know that she is being forced to enter into a marriage, sometimes with somebody she does not even know.

Molapo says the abductors usually watch a young girl’s movements, and manage to find a good opportunity of capturing her without any hindrance.

These abductions normally occur in the afternoon, or at night so as to avoid any interruption by village people or travellers who pass by. This is where rape either by a prospective husband, or his mates, usually takes place.

He says this system of entering into a marriage does not have any premeditated intention on the side of the young girl.

In most cases it puts the girl in an awkward position. She has to face abuses such as rape, violence, torture, insults, and sometimes death, caused by the abductors.

Abductors, on the other hand, run the risk of being killed by those who may come to rescue the young girl.

Most women end up giving in to their abductor’s demands because going back home is considered uncultured.

The few who dare return to their homes live with the stigma of having rejected marriage.

The abduction of women and girls has always been rampant in Lesotho from time immemorial.

Chobeliso  is the subject of a local film titled “Khetho e aka” (My choice) which was played by the Sesotho Media and Development recently.

The film shows the ills of forced marriage by abduction and discusses why the practice is unlawful and tramples on women’s basic rights.

During the discussion after the film, police Senior Inspector ’Mamolefe Mphofe of Child and Gender Protection Unit (CGPU) said there was never a time that abduction was right, not even in the cultural sense, because someone who was found to have abducted another person’s child had to pay a fine of six cows to the girls family.

“So, if the boy’s parents had to pay six cows, it simply shows how malicious this behaviour is,” Mphofe said.

“In most cases girls who are abducted get raped and assaulted,” she said.

Last year the Lesotho MPs had a discussion on how to fight abduction since it is one of the problems that still give rise to the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country.

The MP for Rothe, ’Manthabiseng Phohleli who was one of the delegated women in parliament to represent Lesotho to the SADC Parliamentary Forum’s Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) said abduction was a concern in all African countries.

Phohleli said as the SADC women in parliament they discussed the best way to fight and eliminate abduction in their countries.

“The biggest problem when under age children get abducted is that they lose a bright future they dreamt of because they leave school to be fully financially dependent on their husbands,” Phohleli said.

Phohleli said the laws should be reevaluated and rechecked because “laws such as the Customary Law are far behind and out dated for this era and this very law stands in the way of the Constitution to function as it should”.

“For instance, the Lesotho Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, 2011, defines a child as below the age of 18, and prohibits child marriage,” she said, adding:“But the MarriageAct,1974’ which is still in full function in courts allows girls of 16 and boys of 18 to marry or be married. There is no minimum age for customary marriages.”

Women and Law in the Southern Africa (WILSA) is on set to fight abduction as a human trafficking offence.

“Human trafficking has become a serious problem in African countries and it is real,” said Mokheseng Buti, gender officer at WILSA.

Buti said many times girls are sold to a man to get married to them because “sometimes the man is afraid to propose to the girl he wants to marryand then pays abductors to abduct her for marriage”.

“The abductors are paid for their job. This qualifies as human trafficking,” Buti said.

Sentences for human trafficking range from a fine of M2 million, 15 or 25years in prison depending on the role the convicted person played in the abduction.

“This shows the seriousness of human trafficking in any manner whatsoever it presents its self,” Buti said.

 

 

Ernestina Maluke

 

Domicile at Ha Mpeli – Matsoku – Leribe (highlands). She is a victim of abduction with intent to marry. She relates her story as follows: “I was attending school at Pitseng (100 kilometers away from home). One day a young man I knew from the neighbouring village arrived at school. He requested me from the teachers under pretence that my parents had sent him to fetch me, because I was urgently wanted at home. The school authorities released me and together we went home. On the way he broke the news to me that he was lying to the school authorities. He had requested me because he intended to make me his wife, and so he is abducting me. I remained calm and did not show any sign of shock and resistance. It was still daytime and he decided to take me to his uncle’s home nearby for a while, to wait for the nightfall. After several hours being there, I requested to go to a pit toilet a distance from the house. He asked two young girls to accompany me. University of Pretoria etd – Molapo, J M (2004) 90 I got the chance to escape and ran home. I related the whole story to my mother who appeared to be surprised and angry with all that the young man had done. Late in the evening my mother decided to visit one of the nearby houses in the village. Immediately after her departure, a woman who is a neighbour arrived at our house looking for my mother. She opened a conversation with me as she went out with me. I was talking with her, two men suddenly appeared and apprehended me and dragged me down towards the river. I tried to resist and fight but I was whipped and tortured badly. I had no chance of escaping. One of them was the same young man who fetched me from school. I was kept in the riverbanks up until late when they pushed me to his home. This was how I got married to a man who deceived me and destroyed my future career. We are both members of the Roman Catholic Church. His parents arranged with the priest to give us penance so that our marriage could be blessed, and our first born baby be baptized. The priest asked me to clean the Church as my penance and my husband had to work in the parish fields the whole day. It was not so easy for me to accept him as my husband, but time and children eventually made a difference. I suspect that my mother together with the lady, who came to look for her, had contributed to my abduction. I had high hopes and expectations in my career, but all that came to nothing and I am now an ordinary housewife. I do not wish my daughters to be married that way, I want them to be educated and have a bright future, and to marry men of their own choice”.

 

Mankei C. Ntlohi

 

Domicile at Mathokoane, Leribe (lowlands). She is a victim of abduction with intent to marry. She narrates her story as follows: “We were three girls working at Mathokoane shop. One day two men arrived at the shop, and we knew one of them, while the other was a stranger. The one we knew was married already. As they entered the shop the one we knew pointed at me as he spoke to a stranger with authority and said, ‘I choose this one to be your wife’. He looked at me and never uttered a word, and they left the shop. On the 31st December 1979 I was sent to a certain household in our village. I met the man who pointed me out at the shop, and chose me as a potential wife for the stranger. He persuaded me to go via his house because one of my girl friends wanted to see me. In good faith I agreed because I knew him as a member of our village community. As I entered his house he closed the door. Suddenly two men apprehended me and tied my feet and hands and threw me on the bed. They pushed University of Pretoria etd – Molapo, J M (2004) 88 piece of cloth into my mouth to stop me from screaming. It was around 15:00 when this happened, and I was untied at 23:00. Three more men arrived to make their number to six and they all escorted me to a nearby village, where the silent man came from. I was earmarked and abducted to be a wife of the silent stranger. On arrival at his home, I was pushed behind the door and the man who persuaded me to go via his house gave strict orders that the mother and sisters of the silent stranger should watch me well so that I could not escape. The following day the family dressed me in a traditional attire to be the daughter in law of the silent man’s family. The koae sheep was slaughtered and I become the wife of the silent man whom I never heard a word coming from his mouth asking me if I would marry him. When the consummation of marriage came I was tortured and abused by a silent man who was literally raping me. He never-ever tried to utter a word and ask me if we can have sex. We had to fight before he could manage to overpower me and sleep with me. I was hurt because that was pure rape, which made me feel discredited, abused and oppressed. I had to suffer this humiliation for a month until I gave up. I could not even report this abuse, because Basotho girls are taught by the elderly women, that to refuse to consummate marriage is a disgrace to one’s self and her family. I gradually developed a positive attitude to love him. And we had our first born child whose birth made me accept him as my husband. We lived together for 23 years as husband and wife, and he has never uttered these words to me ‘I love you’ I had to develop a positive attitude of accepting him as my husband. He is a responsible man who takes care of his family. I always kneel and pray to ask God to protect my children (girls) not to be abducted when they get married”.

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‘We lost direction in the ABC’

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THE Mechechane MP, Nyapane Kaya, defected from the All Basotho Convention (ABC) to the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) contrary to the expectations that he would cross the floor with Nqosa Mahao’s new party, the Basotho Action Party (BAP). In fact, Mahao had earlier said Kaya was one of the MPs who would dump the ABC for his party. Kaya’s defection to the MEC took many by surprise. Our reporter, Margaret Katimbo, spoke to Kaya the day he joined the MEC. Below are excerpts from the interview.

What does it mean to you having to switch to the MEC?
It gives me special happiness and satisfaction, a special feeling of strength having changed parties. I joined the ABC from the very first day it was formed as a teacher, and I wasn’t even an active politician at the time. It was a vibrant party which filled people with a lot of hope. The problem, however, is that we abandoned the direction which we took with the people from the beginning after we felt cushioned.

I have to accept that the ABC has done a great deal of good things for Lesotho that I can point to but unfortunately there are times when people feel like they have reached a stage where they feel successful and the love for their nation is no longer there. I was aware that with my (ABC) party, there is no longer an interest to maintain the rhythm of working for the people. Having changed to the MEC, I feel that special kind of satisfaction because I trust that I will get the new strength to work for the people.

What attracted you to the MEC?
Well, in particular the MEC leader is one hard-working politician with vigour and a strong wish to produce results in this country. He makes and leaves a mark wherever he goes. Therefore, being close to him this much encourages me and gives me pleasure because I too am a results-oriented politician. I hope that we will work together with other politicians, not necessarily the MEC, in order to give the country the boost it needs. Even better, I worked with him in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where we tended to understand the underlying problem in this country. Corruption has made Lesotho what it is today so I want to align myself with people that fight against it.

By fighting against corruption, does it imply that the current government is corrupt?
There are still instances of corruption but not at the same levels as we saw during the so-called 4 x 4 government. There is some improvement on that but there are reports of corruption that we get especially when working in the PAC. There are still issues I still have to follow up with regards to allegations of corruption. There is a slight improvement I must accept.

Why did you leave Mahao for the MEC?
I must say I have always wanted to work with the MEC for a while now. It was simply a question of time. However, I still had strong alliances with Ntate Mahao’s group so much that by the time they were packing to leave the ABC it would have been thought that I would leave with them regardless of some developments which had already discouraged me. At some point, a WhatsApp group was created and my number was left out. There were other instances where I would get sidelined from meetings I knew they had.

As a matter of fact, I would learn from you reporters that they had held meetings amongst themselves without me. It is only about a week ago when they were preparing to leave the ABC, and they thought that I would leave with them but I told them No, I can’t go with you people. I told them that they had already sidelined me and that they no longer needed me. That is also when they told me the truth that the fact that I had stood for elections for the deputy speaker, it had been the decision rather conclusion in the government party’s caucus as to who would be elected deputy speaker.

However, there was a great encouragement from a number of them that I should stand which I did but little did I know that my group (that was just a small faction) within the ABC felt offended that I had stood for the post, although some had actually voted for me. So that is how and why I left them because to keep such alliances was no longer safe. My political career is now much clearer and this should be the last round in my political journey. Age also has caught up with me. However there are really no guarantees, something might arise in the future.

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Bullet-proofing your online data

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ROMA – Dr Makhamisa Senekane, a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Electronics at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is assessing a new way of bullet-proofing your online information to ensure it is safe.
When you send sensitive information online, such as banking information, there is a way to hide that information from crooks.
“However,” he says, “some methods of hiding information (encryption) are very difficult to bullet-proof. That is why we are assessing a new way of bullet-proofing the security of your online experience.”

In the world of information hiding (encryption), you are sending the information from this side and your name is Alice.
And the one who receives the information on the other side is called Bob (Robert).

As far as Alice and Bob are concerned, one can sleep peacefully at night, these folks cause no problems whatsoever.
But then comes the third person called Eve (Eavesdropper, if you know what we mean?) and everything turns upside-down.

Eve is interested in getting the message that Alice is sending to Bob, so that she (Eve) can use this message for her personal gain.
That message may as well be a password you use to log into your online banking system.

If Eve is successful, you may wake up one day with all your money wiped off from your bank account in one stroke.
Now you know why the gurus, like Dr Senekane, are working day and night to make sure that that just won’t happen, if possible.
First, let’s consider one of the normal approaches which Senekane says it’s hard to prove their security.
Rest assured, we are using the simplest examples, in real life, it is more complex.

Suppose Alice is sending a number 10 to Bob on the other side of the online device.
But both know that Eve, that shady character, is waiting like a hungry shark on the route between them, to devour the information.
Hiding now begins.
The computer system generates the information called security keys.
Let’s say it gives the first key to Alice as the number 3 and the second key to Bob as the number 7.
“Prime numbers, those numbers such as 2, 3, 7, 11, 13, 17, the numbers that can only be divided by 1 or themselves, are often preferred because, as they get bigger, they are often hard to deal with,” Senekane says.
A bit of maths here but a simple one will suffice.
On the side of Alice, 10 is raised to power 3 times 7 (Remember 3 for Alice and 7 for Bob).
So 3 times 7 is 21.

So 10 is raised to power 21 which makes the number 1000000000000000000000, that is, 1 followed by 21 zeros.
When Eve the crook tries to steal the information, she comes across this ginormous number.
She is fooled because she doesn’t know that actually, that number represents 10.

When this mammoth number reaches Bob’s side of the system, Bob’s side has two advantages.
It “knows” Bob’s own key, 7, and it “knows” Alice’s key, 3.

Immediately, it can tell that there was a number which was raised to power 3 times 7—a number that was raised to power 21.
To arrive to this mammoth number (1 with 21 zeros), it can only mean that 10 was raised to power 21.
Now it is clear, Alice sent Bob the number 10!

But it appeared to Eve as a huge number she could not make sense out of.
Problem solved?
Not so fast.
It is not difficult to see that should Eve have access to both Alice and Bob’s keys, that is 3 and 7 respectively, she doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the hidden number sent was actually 10.
“That is why we need to hide these keys also, 3 and 7 and that is the most difficult part,” Dr Senekane says.
“It is hard to prove mathematically, that Eve can’t find the keys and use them for her own benefit.”
That is why he is assessing the use of quantum physics.

In this case, another line is created between Alice and Bob to exchange keys.
But the keys are sent, not as numbers but as photons (very tiny particles that make up light).
The number of particles interpreted in the binary format, are translated to either 3 or 7 for Alice and Bob.
But here is the big trick for Eve.

Photons are quantum particles (that is enough).
When you try to measure them they become something else.

So when Eve tries to measure these particles, they lose their identity (from quantum to classical) and the Bob’s side immediately realises that Eve interfered and the whole transaction stops.
What matters, is not so much that Eve did not see the information.

It is that we can detect that she saw the information and we can stop her on her tracks.
So Dr Senekane and the team are working to ensure that the techniques used to generate these keys using quantum physics are indeed mathematically provably secure.
This is to ensure that if the techniques are implemented correctly, the only way that Eve can interfere without being detected is by violating the fundamental laws of nature; a feat that is quite impossible.

Own Correspondent

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The electronic ticket

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ROMA – THATO Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng, two National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained computer enthusiasts, are introducing eventspoynt, your electronic ticket to your favourite events.

It is fully paperless!

You buy your ticket online, you pay online with either M-Pesa or Ecocash or even your bank account and, listen to this one, you only bring your phone to the event!

No paper. Nothing!

Just your phone!

This is it! www.eventspoynt.com or inbox Eventspoynt.

So you are one of those in the Born After Technology (BAT) generation who is baffled by the prevalence of paper-based tickets in the 21st century?

Or, are you, perhaps, one of those hardworking fellows who like organizing events but get frustrated when potential clients blame distance or even obscurity, of your ticket selling outlet?

Or maybe you are just a good old environmental enthusiast bewildered by the ever-declining forest resources that help keep our atmospheric greenhouse gases balanced—and you want to see paperless technology reinforced, bit by bit?

Take heart.

Thato Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng have a solution.

“I am a computer trained hip-hop artist,” Rammoko said in an interview.

“It turns out those double passions, computer and hip-hop, combine in him to create the product we are introducing today,” he said.

How?

Everybody somehow knows a thing or two about Lesotho’s rising hip-hop music.

But have you heard a thing or two about the music from an insider?

Okay, listen to Rammoko relate.

“Outside my technology life, I am a hip-hop artist,” he said.

“Some people call our fast-moving music industry sotho-hop.”

In a nutshell, it is a version of hip-hop delivered in a combination of Sesotho and English or in Sesotho only.

It drives young people crazy!

But behind the vibe, pop and fanfare, there are glaring cracks.

“It is an industry that is moving fast, but with no financial rewards in the end,” said Rammoko.

‘In this industry, it is not uncommon for you to be famous, have your music played on radios, TV and all over, while you are broke.”

‘It is a survival industry!”

He added in a tone layered with determination to transform the status-quo.

Here are the problems.

Lack of proper copyright law means “you can sell just one CD for M100, and the next thing you hear your music played across the country, while you remain with that measly M100 you started with, in your pocket”.

Your CD has been copied!

So they have a strategy, they no longer make money through selling CDs.

They give them for free and then organize live events.

“But this alternative is no picnic either,” Rammoko added, holding his breath.

Fraud, fraud, fraud, is a problem here.

“When you are on a stage delivering music to your fans, you can see the hundreds and hundreds in the adoring crowd, only to receive income that clearly doesn’t correspond to the numbers.”

“It leaves you wondering, what happened there—we mean, like— at the gate?”

Oop! Eventspoynt jumps in at this point.

It is a brilliant solution, not only for hip-hop events but for all kinds of events.

Doing it is as simple as ABC.

You go online—register.

Then you choose your event, and the kind of ticket you want to buy, e.g. VIP, Goldern Circle or normal ticket.

Then you pay the given price with your M-Pesa, Ecocash or through your bank account.

During the paying process, a unique number, called order number, is generated.

This you use as a reference when you pay in any of those options.

Once they receive your payment, Eventspoynt folks confirm both by your email and by your order number and your e-ticket is sent to your email.

You can either print it (but please don’t, save the trees), or you can leave it on your phone.

When time comes for the event, you show up with your phone on hand [or your printed paper if you are the Born Before Technology (BBT)].

And here is Rammoko again: “In your e-ticket, there is a code called QR code.”

That is Quick Response two dimensional bar code, it determines if or not you will enter the event.

“We scan the code, in your electronic PDF ticket on your phone or on you printed paper. For scanning we use any phone that has a camera, as long as an app is installed there, to recognise the QR code.”

This time around, no money is exchanging hands.

Thus fraud is kept at bay.

It is stress-free for both the buyers and sellers of the tickets.

All you need to attend you favourite show is to have a phone and money in your M-Pesa account.

That is it!

It doesn’t get easier than that!

The beauty of this system is that it is versatile – all kinds of event organisers can use it as a tool.

And you can buy a ticket, while in any corner of the Mountain Kingdom, or beyond.

Eish! Those are NUL trained computer gurus for you!

Own Correspondent

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