Connect with us


Rugby family in mourning



MASERU – The tragic deaths of five junior Mabote Beavers rugby players last weekend have hit their families and the local rugby family very hard.

The five Under-16 girls lost their lives in a horrific car accident that happened between Botshabelo and Bloemfontein in South Africa on Saturday June 22, as the vehicle they were travelling in burst a tyre causing its driver to lose control.

The vehicle was transporting a team of 14 girls who were on their way to compete at a rugby event in Bloemfontein.
Their vehicle collided with another oncoming car whose driver also lost his life.

“Out of the 14 athletes involved, five were treated for minor injuries, four hospitalised, four died at the scene and one passed away at the hospital in Bloemfontein,” the Federation of Lesotho (FLR) said in statement after the crash.
A total of four cars were involved in the accident as two more cars were not able to avoid the incident because it happened so quickly.

The official death toll is reported to be six.
The deaths have caused major pain for the victims’ families, rugby, schools, teammates and to everyone who knew them.

Some of the injured players are still in hospital in Bloemfontein but are expected to be back in the country this week.
Other players were discharged a day after the accident and are getting the medical attention they need here at home.
The young girls that lost their lives are Mamello Moseme, 18, Mpho Macheli, 16, Lerato Kelepa, 15, Thato Moahi, 14, and Keketso Tšeuoa, 15.

The driver of their vehicle has since been charged with culpable homicide.
Mamello Moseme will be laid to rest this weekend in Sehlabeng. Her school, Lancers Gap High School, held a joint memorial service for her and Mpho Macheli on Tuesday.

FLR general secretary Litšitso Motšeremeli narrated the painful process of having to inform the affected families that their children had lost their lives.

Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Motšeremeli was emotional and said, as one of the founders of rugby in Lesotho, he is hurt that parents have lost their children.

The majority of the families affected were notified about the accident on Saturday, June 22 but some only received word in the early hours of Sunday, June 23.

All the players were in high school doing Form C and had a bright future ahead of them both in sports and the academic arena.

“This is painful,” Motšeremeli grieved.
“As a sports administrator and one of the founders of rugby in the country it is even more painful because as a person you end up thinking the parents would still have their kids if I didn’t start this. It is painful, we have lost great talent,” he said.

“Now every day we are transporting parents to Bloemfontein to see kids in hospital. The LSRC (Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission) and the sports ministry are helping us. Some (players) were discharged and we are making sure they are going for check-ups. Those that are still in hospital will be out this week to come back and they will get the medical attention here in the country.”

Motšeremeli explained the circumstances of the fatal accident.
“The police took a statement from the source who is the driver of the car they were travelling in,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the other driver of the second car passed away. The other two cars do not know what happened and realised the accident late; it was an accident involving four cars and a total of six people died,” Motšeremeli said.

“The tyre on the left side of the driver burst. When the car they were travelling in lost control the second car unfortunately was near and it was overtaking another car but it was on its lane speeding.”
“It is like that, there is nothing else,” Motšeremeli continued.

“So, it is law that when there is an accident and you hit a pavement or something you get charged for reckless driving. But if a person dies, you get charged for culpable homicide. It is a standard procedure.”

The five girls were talented prospects that were seen as the future of the women’s game in Lesotho.
Moseme, for example, started off as a footballer but moved to rugby. She is described as one of the fastest rugby players the country has seen.

In order to not forget the tragic loss, the FLR is planning to hold an annual tournament in honour of Moseme, Macheli, Kelepa, Moahi and Tšeuoa as a way to keep their memory alive.

“Moseme was very talented, she even played football; she was the fastest player we have ever had in the high schools category, we were already recruiting them and we could see the future,” Motšeremeli said.

“The association has lost a lot. First of all, losing a life is painful; here in rugby we call it a family. We are one big family, it is not only about playing, it’s about caring for one another. The fact that we no longer have them in our

family, we are now reduced and it is not something nice,” he said.
Motšeremeli said Lesotho has lost a wonderful group of promising young girls.
“They had talent and that is a fact,” he said.

“They were the champions here at home and they beat the senior team to win. They were very young Under-16s and only two were Under-18 in the team, but they beat their sisters who have experience, so you can imagine losing such talent hurts,” he added.

“We are going to have to dig very deep to see if we can get that talent again,” Motšeremeli continued.
“These kids came to rugby with good motives and they became part of the family and that kept them out of anything

bad that they could have been involved in. We are very proud of them and we are going to do something big for them. We are going to have a memorable tournament every season to remember these fallen soldiers.”

Saturday, July 6
Mamello Moseme (Sehlabeng)
Saturday, July 13
Mpho Macheli (Sehlabeng)
Lerato Kelepa (Khubetsoana)
Thato Moahi (Matelile)
Saturday, July 20
Keketso Tšeuoa (Thaba-Tseka)

Tlalane Phahla

Continue Reading


Mahao, PS in big fight



PRIME Minister Sam Matekane this week summoned the Basotho Action Party (BAP) executive committee in a bid to defuse simmering tensions within the party.
This comes amid fears that Professor Nqosa Mahao’s fallout with his principal secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Tankiso Phapano, could threaten the unity in the BAP and the government’s stability.

thepost can reveal that Mahao has hinted that he would resign if Matekane doesn’t fire or reassign Phapano.

But there are strong indications that Mahao doesn’t enjoy the backing of his executive committee and MPs in his fight with Phapano.

Inside sources this week told thepost that some members of the BAP’s executive committee and MPs are openly siding with Phapano and have been secretly lobbying Matekane to reshuffle Mahao from the Ministry of Energy to Sports.

A source said Mahao is aware of these manoeuvres, including a clandestine meeting in Maputsoe, and has said he would rather resign than be the subject of a humiliating reshuffle instigated by people he leads.

The source of the bad blood between Mahao and Phapano is not clear but it is understood that they have disagreed over tenders and the ministry’s direction.

The source said Matekane was first briefed of the running battles at the ministry some three weeks ago just as matters were coming to a head.

It is the second briefing which revealed a complete breakdown in the relationship that triggered Matekane’s meeting with the BAP’s executive committee and MPs on Monday.

Three people who were in that meeting said Matekane told the BAP officials to deal with the crisis before it affected the ministry and threatened the coalition government’s stability.

The BAP’s executive committee, including MPs and Mahao, then had a marathon meeting to discuss ways to make peace between Mahao and Phapano.

A source who was in that meeting said “it was clear to Mahao that the majority of the committee and the MPs were on Phapano’s side”.

“Mahao quickly realised that he did not have the backing of the majority and took a conciliatory approach. It was clear that the committee would rather have him resign than get Phapano removed from the ministry,” the source said.

“In the past Mahao had flatly refused to reconcile with Phapano because of seniority. But this time he appeared to be open to a meeting to discuss reconciliation.”

Both Mahao and Phapano told thepost last night that their relationship was still cordial. ‘“We are still in good books with Phapano until further notice,” Mahao said.

“However, we cannot predict the future.”

Mahao denied ever discussing Phapano’s dismissal or transfer with Matekane.

Phapano also insisted that he was working well with Mahao.

“We are still on good terms,” Phapano said, adding that the allegation that they were fighting was “baseless”.

The fallout between Mahao and Phapano has been quick and spectacular.

The two had been almost inseparable months before Mahao agreed to join the coalition government.

Phapano would use his car to drive Mahao around. They would attend party meetings together. Some party insiders saw Phapano as Mahao’s right-hand man and adviser.

Mahao allegedly strongly pushed for Phapano to be appointed as his principal secretary when he became energy minister.

But sources said Mahao started having second thoughts days after recommending Phapano and tried to get his appointment reversed but it was too late.

A source says within weeks Mahao was telling cabinet colleagues that Phapano had captured the ministry and he was unable to function as the minister.

“He started pushing to oust Phapano within days because they were already clashing. It’s been war from the first days,” said the source.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


How chicken import ban hit vendors



MALESHOANE Pakela used to work at small backyard chicken farms where she was paid with chicken heads, necks, legs, and offals that she would roast and sell to factory workers at the Thetsane Industrial Area.

Her job was to clean and pack chicken.
The profit wasn’t much but just enough for the 37-year-old widow to feed and keep her four children in school.

“It also covered her monthly rental of M150 for a room in Ha-Tsolo Sekoting.

Her life was however shattered last October when the government imposed a ban on chicken imports from South Africa following an outbreak of bird flu.
Without day-old chicks the farms quickly shut down, cutting Pakela’s supply of heads, necks, legs, and offals.
Within a few days, her family was starving.

Pakela had been struggling even for months before the ban. The closure of the factories and retrenchments of thousands of workers has severely hit her sales. She was behind on her rent and could barely feed her children.

The partial lifting of the chicken ban has not helped Pakela because her former employers still cannot import day-old chicks or live birds.
Pakela and a family were kicked out of their rented room in November when their arrears were about M1 000.
She has found another room nearby.

A ‘Good Samaritan’ has allowed her to use a room for free until she can afford the rent. But Pakela says she still feels obliged to pay something because she understands that things are hard for everyone.

“Here the rent is still M150 but the landlord accepts every amount that I give her,” Pakela says.
There are days when her children go to bed hungry.

“I have told them (children) that if I have nothing they should accept (the status).”

She now survives on handouts from neighbours and other well-wishers. Pakela’s poverty is apparent.

Barefoot and holding her small child in a seshoeshoe dress, Pakela says her two children usually go to school without eating.
The other child has dropped out of school because she doesn’t have shoes.

’Mako Lepolesa, 44, who has been running a chesanyama (meat grill) at the Maseru West Industrial Estate since 2018. The father of three says his clients are mainly taxi drivers and factory workers.

Chicken was her main product until last October when the ban was imposed. It wasn’t long before his business started wobbling.

“I thought it would be just a short-lived problem (chicken import ban) but it passed on this year,” he says, adding that it might take months for his business to recover.
Moshe Ramashamole, 42, who also owns a chesanyama in the Maseru West Industrial Estate, tried to remain in business by sourcing chicken from local farmers.

It was a stopgap measure that however lasted a few weeks because the farmers also ran out of stock. He resorted to bad chicken but they were double the price of a full chicken before the ban.
Yet Ramashamole thought he could make it work by increasing the price of his plate from M35 to M55. The customers however resisted the new price and Ramashamole had to take the losses.

The poultry ban did not affect street vendors like Pakela alone.
Former Minister of Communications, Khotso Letsatsi, is one of those poultry farmers struggling following the chicken ban.

He ventured into poultry in January last year. It was an audacious venture that included a M100 000 investment in a shelter and other equipment.
He started with a batch of 300 chicks and had reached 1 000 by the time the ban was imposed.

“The business was lucrative,” Letsatsi says.

“I had to employ two people permanently to assist me on a full-time basis,” he says.

When it was time to slaughter the chickens, Letsatsi says he had to employ seven casual labourers.
Since the ban was imposed he had released all his workers.

“I do not know where they are now. Maybe they are starving,” he says of the workers he released.

Letsatsi doesn’t know how he will revive his business.
The Director of Marketing in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), Lekhooe Makhate, says the ban has been devastating to farmers and businesses.

“Some big businesses are going to declare less tax to the government because there was no business,” Makhate says.

He says Lesotho spends M2.1 billion on the importation of chicken and its products from South Africa every year.
But that amount usually soars to M4 billion depending on the market forces of demand and supply.

Makhate says the M2.1 billion goes to South Africa where the chicken and its products are imported.

At the height of the scarcity of chickens in the country, Makhate says people were supposed to make initiatives to travel to villages to search for chickens.

“There is not enough production of chickens in the country,” he says.
“Economically speaking we rely on South Africa. We have to be self-reliant.”

Majara Molupe

Continue Reading


Letseng fends off threat to sue



LETŠENG Diamond says it is under no obligation to advertise jobs for Basotho to provide certain services “where it has the capacity to undertake the same services”.
Letšeng Diamond boss, Motooane Thinyane, was responding to a threat to sue by a little-known political party called Yearn for Economic Sustainability (YES).

Matekane’s company, the Matekane Mining Investment Company (MMIC), had been providing blasting, haulage and drilling services at Letšeng mine since 2005.
The deal with the MMIC was terminated in December last year with the mining company saying it was improper because Matekane had now become a politician.

Letšeng Diamonds announced that it had reached an agreement with the MMIC to acquire its mining equipment at the mine and offered employment to its current employees in line with operational requirements.

“This will enable Letšeng to continue with its mining activities,” the company said in its statement.

This infuriated opposition parties that argued that the mine should have called interested Basotho companies to bid for the contract, saying it is provided for in the Minerals Act of 2005.

The leader of Yearn for Economic Sustainability (YES), Molefi Ntšonyana, wrote the mine last week threatening to sue for allegedly failing to follow section 11 of the Act.
Ntšonyana argued that the Act “does not grant the Letšeng Diamond 100 percent to mine with its good own equipment” but it should engage Basotho companies like it did with the MMIC.

Ntšonyana said Letšeng Diamond and the MMIC made the agreement to acquire the MMIC equipment so that the mine could continue with its mining activities “without any advertisement to seek qualified Basotho to provide such services”.

Ntšonyana said the agreement unilaterally denied Basotho a chance to tender for such services and ignored the fact that the government of Lesotho on behalf of Basotho own 30 percent in the Letšeng Diamond.

“It is advisable to reconsider your decision,” Ntšonyana said, adding that they would also write to the mining board requesting the resolution they made regarding this matter of insourcing mining activities.

He said the company should adhere to section 11 of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2005 and within 14 working days the matter should be reconsidered, “failing which we will have no choice but to drag the company to the courts of law”.

In his response, Thinyane said Ntšonyana must “revisit the section in question in full for its correct interpretation”.

“Letšeng Diamond is under no obligation to advertise to seek qualified Basotho to provide services where it is willing and has the capacity to undertake the same services,” Thinyane said.

He said the decision relating to the agreement referred to has been through the necessary governance structures and is therefore procedural.
Thinyane said Letšeng is a corporate citizen that is fully compliant with the laws of Lesotho.

Majara Molupe

Continue Reading