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Syndicate registers Lesotho children for SA social grants



MASERU-A shadowy syndicate is allegedly registering Basotho children illegally in South Africa in an elaborate scheme to defraud that country’s social security grants, thepost heard this week.

A local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), is now investigating the case.
The WLSA said its paralegals came across the cases in the districts of Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek where they were conducting a study on gender-based violence.

Attorney Mohau Maapesa, the WLSA’s Programmes Manager, told thepost on Tuesday that at least five cases had been unearthed in Haremone village in Mafeteng.
“We have also reported this trend to the police to help with investigations,” Attorney Maapesa said.
According to Attorney Maapesa, the syndicate is picking children from Lesotho and registering them in South Africa so that they could access the grants.

Once the children are registered, their parents or guardians get a share of the illegal proceeds while the other money is taken by the individuals who registered them in South Africa.
It is not yet clear how many children have been registered through this way.
It is also not clear how the syndicate managed to penetrate the South African social development system.

What is clear though is that the group has successfully manipulated the South African home affairs civil registration system to allow the authorities to issue legitimate documents.
Attorney Maapesa said since the children would have been registered in South Africa that means they are no longer Lesotho citizens.
“This is wrong from all fronts and amounts to abuse of the children,” she said.

“Children are trafficked in a weird way.”
She said the WLSA paralegals were told by complaining parents and guardians that the South Africans who had registered the children had reneged on their promise to pay them.
The agreement was that the children would be fetched from Lesotho to South Africa to get their grants every month-end and the children would be paid a few maloti.

The arrangement worked for several months until it turned sour.
“The concern came when some parents complained that the South African residents only come to pick up the children and no longer honour the promise to pay them,” Attorney Maapesa said.
She said they are not sure how much the parents get as part of the deal because “we are not interested in the money but in the welfare of the children”.

“It is illegal to register children in South Africa,” she said.
“We want this to come to a halt.”
She said the children have to be registered in Lesotho so that they know that they are citizens of Lesotho.
Attorney Maapesa said the Ministry of Social Development is ready to step in where children are in financial distress.

She said there would be no guarantee that the children will return home once they have left for South Africa.
“Human trafficking could easily be done and therefore this needs urgent intervention,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Social Development ’Matebatso Doti said they have been on radio stations sensitising the public about the available grants to assist the poorest of the poor.

“The selection is not automatic, we make assessments,” Doti said.
The minister said they have deployed social workers at councils so that they could reach out to the people and be able to identify those in dire need.
She said what is happening is not new citing the case of elderly Basotho citizens who would cross into South Africa in the past to claim old age pensions.

She said the Children’s Protection Act clearly indicates that the minister is the custodian of all needy children in Lesotho.
A councillor in the Haremone area, Seabata Kompi, said there are some elderly villagers who cross into South Africa to get pensions every month.
“If the elderly do it, it is obvious that the children could also do it,” Kompi said.

Majara Molupe

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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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