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The big stink of Maseru



MASERU – FROM litigation to meetings with council officials and MPs, the stink refuses to go for residents of Ha-Tšosane. Thousands of people who are living in the area have for years paid the price of haphazard planning of human settlements by the Maseru City Council. A dumpsite that has become a health hazard showcases the troubles of the residents.

Residents’ representatives have for the past decade been to the Ministry of Local Government, the Maseru City Council (MCC) and the parliamentary Public Accounts

Committee (PAC) seeking intervention without success. Last year they took the MCC to court. The case is yet to be heard.

The residents approached the court after the MCC threatened them with eviction, claiming that they built their houses around the dumpsite without the municipality’s authorisation.

Residents at Ha-Tšosane say instead of moving them, the council should close the “filthy landfill”.

Some have been angered by comments made by the council spokesperson, ’Makatleho Mosala, who previously told thepost that the residents were illegal occupants who should be removed without compensation.

The infamous dumpsite is very close to residential houses and poses a health risk.

“The houses were built after the city made that area a dumpsite,” Mosala said. “That dumpsite existed a very long time ago. Actually that was a quarry pit and then later was turned into a dumpsite,” she said. “Even if you go there you will find that some of the houses are still new and others are just very close to it.”

Mosala had said “most of those people, some of them were not given the green light by the Maseru City Council to build in that area because there was already a dumpsite there. Those illegal site occupants will be removed without any compensation.”

She said the council had already told the residents to leave, although negotiations are still ongoing.

But the residents are having none of it. Together with their chief, they have dared the council to execute its threat and “see what happens”.

Chief Michael Ramosalla told thepost this week that he was shocked to learn that some of the residents will be removed from the village. He claimed that people settled in the area long before the council established the dumpsite.

He said the quarry referred to by Mosala was first situated about five kilometres from the current location and this was before Maseru’s population boomed.

“There were already people living here. So it’s obvious that the quarry came to the people, people didn’t go to the quarry. The quarry came to the village,” fumed Chief Ramosalla.

He said the villagers were told that it was a temporary arrangement when the quarry was turned into a dumpsite. The dumpsite was established in 1983, decades after people began settling there, he said.

“This village has always existed,” Chief Ramosalla said.

Many residents said they will resist any attempts to evict them. Some attribute the problem to failure by authorities to plan the town.

In an effort to resolve the planning mess, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is now offering a new course in the faculty of Geography and Environmental Sciences called Legal Aspects of Planning.

The course, introduced by former MCC Town Clerk, Advocate ’Mantai Seeko, aims to equip students with the main principles of planning.

“When you come to Lesotho, it is almost as if there are no planners,” Advocate Seeko said.

She was speaking at an indaba on urban planning held by the Lesotho Town and Regional Planning Institute (LTRPI) in Maseru last week.

“The majority of the planning that takes place in the country is done by the Maseru City Council. Unfortunately, there are planners practising this profession who have not obtained the correct educational qualifications,” she said, adding that “it is important to professionalise this institute so that it can be the voice to tell the MCC and other ministries that they are not qualified planners”.

Lesotho is faced with a major land-use crisis due to lack of plan-led developments, in particular towns and urban areas.

The town is characterised by informal developments, with many people living in unplanned and informal settlements.

Planning is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land at different spatial scale, city scale down to districts and neighbourhoods with focus on where development should occur and where it should not.

Many participants at the planning indaba last week said the planning law in Lesotho has become useless and this is evidenced by the rapid growth of informal settlements on agricultural land as well as traffic congestion at major intersections in the capital city

“Planning is not recognised both legally in terms of legislation and as a profession,” one participant said.

Some voiced their desire and willingness to professionalise planning and help raise the standard of planning practice in Lesotho.

“Professionalising planning would be a positive step forward and aid in Lesotho’s proper spatial development and all matters of the built environment,” Teboho Lebusa, president of the Lesotho Town and Regional Planning Institute, said.

The institute is aiming to push for the reform of the planning law in Lesotho, particularly the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) of 1980.

The envisioned reform would include making it mandatory for all practising planners to be legally registered with the institute so that only qualified and competent professionals practice town planning.

“We can agree that indeed the current state of affairs, evidenced by the crippled, haphazard and chaotic nature in the development and use of land in our country leaves much to be desired,” Lebusa said.

The institute aspires to ensure efficient and productive use of land in Lesotho, and to grow and professionalise the institute as a leading entity in matters of planning in the country.

It plans to do so by establishing and maintaining fruitful relationships with all stakeholders in planning issues, including government agencies, parastatals, NGOs, individuals and other professional organisations both domestically and internationally.

Last year, then Trade Minister Dr Thabiso Molapo, talked about the Lesotho Urban Agenda which he said aims to elevate the standing of urbanisation within the Lesotho

Strategic Development Plan and foster a sustainable and competitive urban development system that will contribute to Lesotho’s economic, social and environmentally sustainable development.

Dr Molapo was presenting the Lesotho’s urban agenda at the 18th Private Consultative Meeting between stakeholders. Dr Molapo said the 21st century will be the century of cities, saying by 2050, at least 70 percent of the world population will live in cities even though Lesotho will not meet that rate.

Dr Resetselemang Leduka, a renowned National University of Lesotho (NUL) academic who wrote several papers on urbanisation issues, observed shocking factors on why Lesotho towns are not properly planned.

In a paper titled Land Governance in Lesotho, published in 2019, Leduka and other researchers noted that despite the Land Act of 2010 and the institutional framework of land administration that it created, “the governance and management of land remains chaotic at best ‘’.

They found that numerous agencies and government ministries and departments in one way or the other are claiming some stake in land matters.

The 2000 Land Policy Review Commission noted that the management of land was the responsibility of no less than nine different government agencies, each making decisions independently.

The agencies were the Land Use Planning, which was, until recently, located in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Directorate of Lands, Surveys and Physical Planning (the lands and surveys part of the former LSPP that now partially constitutes the Land Administration Authority (LAA).

Other agencies were the Deeds Registry, which was moved from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights), the Ministries of Public Works and Transport, Trade and

Industry, Natural Resources, Tourism, Sports and Culture, Environment, Gender and Youth Affairs, Education and Finance, Maseru Municipal Council (MMC) and the Lesotho Housing and Land Development Corporation.

The Ministry of Local Government also routinely acts alone outside of the LAA and local authorities, and urban and community councils, as well as customary chiefs, according to government findings in 2015.

At the helm of land governance in Lesotho is the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, which is responsible for policy formulation and coordination of all other institutions involved in land governance.

Land agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Local Government are the Department of Lands Survey and Physical Planning – the Physical Planning section of this department is responsible for urban land use planning and control in Planning Areas.

The Land Use Planning section is responsible for coordinating planning in rural (community) council areas.

The Land Administration Authority (LAA) is a parastatal land agency that is responsible for national cadastre, mapping, land administration, and the registration of land titles and deeds.

The Lesotho Housing and Land Development Corporation (LHLDC), a parastatal agency, is mandated with undertaking land development (site-and services) and housing for all income groups, either for sale or rental and to assist the private sector entities to develop land and housing.

There are also Principal Chiefs who are customary authorities whose main mandate in land matters is to control and issue grazing permits for mountain rangelands in accordance with the Animal Husbandry Act 1969 (Act No. 22 of 1969).

Mountain rangelands do not fall under the jurisdiction of any local government structures.

Local councils are mandated with undertaking physical and land use planning and site allocation functions in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Municipal and urban councils are responsible for physical planning, site allocation, and control of building permits.

The Dr Leduka-led study found that real estate companies do not have specialised legislative provisions, although they are serving high income populations in gated estates with high tech security installations and for the middle income with basic sub-divisions and surveyed plots.

The study also found that field owners and customary chiefs are “an extra-legal activity and takes over the legal responsibility of municipal/urban councils”.

It was also observed in the Trade Ministry’s 2015 report that “land-related management is uncoordinated, siloed and the site of struggle among government agencies”.

“At national level, for instance, control of land use/physical planning is entangled in struggles between agencies in the Ministry of Local Government and Land

Administration Authority,” noted the Leduka-led research.

“At local levels, similar struggles exist between local councils and customary chiefs,” stated the research paper.

The Town and Country Planning Act of 1980 is the principal legislation that regulates land use planning in urban areas.

It gives the planning authority the legal mandate to prepare development plans for areas that are designated as planning areas and establishes a Town and Country

Planning Board for the purpose of examining development plans and making recommendations to the Local Government Minister for approval.

The Act says a development plan should indicate “…the manner in which it is proposed that the area in question shall be used and developed, and the stages by which the development shall be carried out”.

In terms of the law, the development plan becomes a legally binding document to which all land development within the planning area must conform.

The Leduka-led study found that development plans did not comply fully with the requirements of the legal framework.

For example, the study found, none of the plans had undergone the 5-yearly review process that is prescribed by the law.

With the probable exception of the Maseru Development Plan, none of the plans went through the formal legal approval process in accordance with the law, according to the study.

Staff Reporter

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The beauty queen of Lesotho



MASERU – WHILE many children her age were still adapting to the early years of school after kindergarten, Reatile Molefe was already plotting her life goals. Barely 10-years-old, Molefe already knew exactly what she wanted to do in life.

“I was already geared towards being a model at that early age. I was already portraying fancy and modest moves linked to modelling,” said the beauty queen, now aged 22.

It didn’t take time for her mother to identify the potential and found a need to sharpen it further.

“My journey in beauty pageantry started at the age of eight in 2009. The reason my mom thought I should hop into pageantry was because I was active and smart. I also had role models from the industry by then. I mean, I had an ambition of every little girl’s dream of being a star or being dressed in cute ball gowns so I also had a strong desire to be like that,” she said.

“I started my cat walking lessons at Little Miss Lesotho Companies but didn’t win. Not winning gave me motivation to work more towards my craft, it pushed me into wanting more as I couldn’t settle for less,” she said.

Molefe now boasts of 14 tittles to her name. She has donned the beauty pageant crowns in all stages of her life.

“I was crowned Queen in my two previous schools. I was Miss New Millennium High School in 2012 and Miss Lesotho High School in 2017. The 14th title I scooped made me believe in myself even more as I got to gain experience competing with people from different countries,” said Molefe, who has also made a bold statement by competing at the international level.

Molefe attributes her prowess to her high levels of confidence.

“Pageants create a bonding experience where women lift each other up, but what gives me an upper hand is being comfortable, secure with myself and being me throughout,” said Molefe, adding that her favourite category during pageantry competitions is when models are asked to strut the ramp in evening wear.

“That’s when the audience and the judges get to see the creativity, the poise and eloquence of the queens,” said Molefe, who believes that the audience’s response can destroy or build a contestant’s confidence.

“The audience can play either of the two roles during a contest. They may make a positive impact on females taking part because they teach them how to be resilient thus prepare them for real world situations. On the other hand, the audience may also make a negative impact and lead to a whole host of mental issues among participants who may be worried about their image and appearance. This can lead to harmful side-effects,” stated Molefe.

Like other women in the modelling industry, Molefe has come across some challenges.

“An example is trying to get enough support from the general public on my first international contest,” she said.

Another was the cost of competing in beauty pageants as well as evolving body changes, she said.

“Being a beauty queen is not a walk in the park, especially when being judged by the community. And, yes, pageants do help women grow in confidence but without proper mental health support, they can also create insecurities. But through all the struggles, I am thankful to my family and friends. They are my biggest supporters. I may have gone through it all but their unbending support has kept me going,” she said.

Molefe says she considers being crowned second runner up in the Miss Culture International competition held in Johannesburg in 2021 as her most outstanding achievement. She was also crowned Miss Culture Lesotho in 2018.

“What was intriguing to me about this contest was the fact that I was the youngest among the contestants. It proved to be a learning experience for me and it deepened my knowledge about what the modelling world really entails.

“I never doubted myself but I thought I wouldn’t make it as I was the youngest. I got to compete with people of different races, which got me even more motivated. I learned a lot in participating in a multi-racial event,” she said.

Pageantry isn’t just about looks, according to Molefe.

“There is to more to it, like being able to embrace glamour. Beauty is subjective and it can be interpreted in different ways according to the perception of individual viewers. I consider being beautiful as an inside and out perception but the golden rule is to brim with confidence to make it in pageantry,” said Molefe, urging parents to enroll their children in pageantry schools at an early age “even as early as three-years-old”.

“This gives them ample time to develop because the young ones are able to easily learn from others to improve their skills and boost their self-confidence,” said Molefe, who dreams of a day when a beauty queen is considered a legendary woman in Lesotho.

One of her goals is to assist in educating the youth, especially young women, about menstrual health and other sexual and reproductive health issues.

Her target group is mainly girls that live in rural areas and small towns.

“Pageants promote goal setting, encourage us to value personal achievement and community involvement,” she said.

Calvin Motekase

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The stock-theft menace



MASERU – IF you recently enjoyed a nice beef stew at a restaurant in Lesotho there is a high possibility that the slaughtered cow might have been stolen from a farm in South Africa.

If you are in South Africa, it is equally possible that the cow was stolen from a cattle post in Mokhotlong or any other mountainous region of Lesotho.

That is because cross-border stock-theft is on the increase between the two countries. In fact, it has become a thorn in the flesh for farmers on both sides of the border.

Since 1990, 85 percent of livestock owners on the border villages of Lesotho have lost animals to thieves as compared with 49 percentage from non-border villages, according to a study published by Wilfrid Laurier University.

Earlier this month, this problem came into sharp focus when four Basotho men were picked up by the police in Thaba-Nchu in the Free State.

These men, aged between 24-51 years old, were travelling in a car bearing Lesotho number plates. They were transporting cattle that did not have documents.

The SAPS informed their counterparts in Lesotho who rushed to the place to repatriate the suspects.

Maseru Urban Commanding Officer Senior Superintendent Rantoane Motsoela said their investigations uncovered that the cattle crossed into South Africa at Ha Tsolo through the Mohokare River.

Then they were transported from the border into South Africa.

S/Supt Motsoela said they have found that the cattle already had tattoo marks from one farmer in Ficksburg.

But the suspects had no documents to prove that the animals belonged to them.

Both the cattle and the car are still in the hands of the SAPS while investigations are continuing.

S/Supt Motsoela said the suspects are assisting the police with investigations.

In another incident police recovered five cattle of a Mosotho man in Qwa-Qwa, still in the Free State Province.

These cattle were reported stolen in Tšehlanyane in Leribe at the beginning of this month.

Police under their sting operation “Zero Tolerance to Stock Theft” launched their investigations that led to the discovery of the cattle.

The Leribe District police commanding officer Senior Superintendent Samuel Thamae said they were able to recover the animals with the help of the community who tipped them off.

S/Supt Thamae said they stormed Qwa-Qwa with their counterparts in South Africa to identify the stolen animals.

After convincing the SAPS that the cattle belonged to the concerned farmer, they were released to him.

The Mokhotlong District Administrator (DA) Serame Linake says they have been battling cross border stock theft for years.

He says Basotho in Lesotho would go to South Africa to steal the animals that they sell back to South Africa in Vanderbijlparkl after getting fraudulent documents.

Linake says these animals, cattle and sheep, are sold at an auction in Vanderbijlpark.

He says the South Africans on the other hand sometimes also cross the border into Lesotho to steal the animals.

To fight this theft, they have formed good relations with the SAPS, chiefs and councillors.

Linake says when animals are stolen from South Africa into Lesotho, their counterparts simply inform them on this side so that they could waylay them.

“Stolen animals are strictly sold in Vanderbijlpark in South Africa,” he says.

He says in his district animals are not sold in the butcheries like is the case in Maseru and other lowlands districts.

Linake says they are now struggling to control theft that takes place between the northern district and Qwa-Qwa because the perpetrators are Basotho who have now migrated to South Africa.

He says these perpetrators have lived in Lesotho and know all the corridors that they could use to come and steal animals in Lesotho and go back to South Africa.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli says stock-theft is a grave problem in the country.

He says they have formed a special team that is going to reinforce the team that is already dealing with stock-theft in the country.

When there is an alarm that some animals have been stolen, this new team is informed so that it can lend a helping hand.

S/Supt Mopeli says the theft happens within the country’s borders and between Lesotho and South Africa.

S/Supt Mopeli says they are managing to deal with the theft because they arrest the perpetrators and bring them before the courts of law.

He says the public should alert the police when they see animals being stolen so that they can be saved from the hands of thieves.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola says they have registered big successes in curbing cross-border theft especially after having a post in Mokota-Koti in Maputsoe.

He says they usually hold frequent patrols at the borders to fight this crime.

“We also hold frequent crossings with the South African army to share information regarding cross-border theft,” Lt Col Lekola says.

Lt Col Lekola says they sometimes use air patrols as another way to fight stock-theft.

He says they usually erect camps along the borders so that they can stop animals coming out of Lesotho or vice-versa.

“Last year we had a successful collaboration with South African soldiers where we patrolled the borders from Leribe to Mafeteng. The South African army was on their side and we were also on our side,” he says.

He says they were working together with the police and they reaped good results.

Lt Col Lekola says some herd boys report the theft of livestock long after first trying to track the animals themselves.

He says this gives the cattle rustlers a chance to hide.

He advised the farmers not to erect cattle posts near the borders because they are stolen easily.

“When the South Africans enter Lesotho borders to trace their stolen animals, they make the first encounter with the animals at the cattle posts and drive them away,” Lt Col Lekola says.

He appealled to farmers to work collaboratively with their herders to pay them their dues.

He says some farmers do not pay their herders and those herders usually bounce back to steal the animals in revenge.

“They enter the cattle posts easily because the dogs know them,” Lt Col Lekola says.

Because Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa, stock-theft takes place easily between the two countries especially in the provinces of Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The porous borders make it easy for the movement of animals to take place between the two countries.

And the theft between these countries has been happening since time immemorial.

The cross-border menace continues to take place despite patrols that are organised by the security agencies from both countries.

A Transnational History of Stock Theft on the Lesotho–South Africa Border, Nineteenth Century to 1994 Journal states that stock theft has long been a problem along the Lesotho–South Africa border.

It says from Moshoeshoe I’s cattle-raiding in the nineteenth century through to the start of the democratic era in Lesotho (1993) and South Africa (1994), the idea that stock theft is both prevalent and an international problem has been generally accepted by all.

According to Farmer’s Weekly livestock theft has a much more detrimental effect on the economy than previously thought, and is becoming more violent.

It says organised livestock theft feeds into other more serious types of transnational organised crimes such as drug, weapons and human trafficking.

And ultimately this results in the creation of illicit financial flows.

Challenges to safety included no fencing along large stretches, and the lack of a suitable roads to enable South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to conduct border patrols effectively, Farmer’s Weekly says.

In a piece published in November on the International Security Studies (ISS) website, ISS Today, stock theft was on the rise in South Africa, with 29 672 cases recorded by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the 2018/2019 financial year.

This represented an increase of 2.9 percent over the previous year.

The ISS said the problem is exacerbated by porous and poorly secured borders, lack of capacity to monitor the border, and mountainous terrain that is difficult to police.

“Such challenges create opportunities and trafficking routes for criminal networks to smuggle livestock, drugs and, at times, firearms across the border.”

The ISS said the transnational livestock theft affects farmers revenue and adds to consumer costs.

It says thousands of animals are stolen and sold through the black market.

And this hurts the economy and goes even further to impact consumers, as these animals could have provided meat.

Majara Molupe

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Matekane to launch microchip project



MAPUTSOE – PRIME Minister Sam Matekane will this Sunday launch a new microchip project designed to combat the rampant stock-theft in Lesotho.

The launch will be held in Peka in Leribe.

Speaking at a rally for his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) in Maputsoe last weekend, Matekane said the government is weary of the rampant stock-theft that impoverished rural farmers in Lesotho for decades.

“When your livestock leaves your kraals your phones will alert you and your families,” Matekane said amid loud cheers.

He asked the people to go to Peka in great numbers to witness the launch and learn from the livestock microchipping experts how the project will work to combat stock-theft in the villages.

The project was first spearheaded by Thomas Thabane when he was the Home Affairs Minister in 2003.

That year, 120 rams were implanted with the microchip identification system in Masianokeng.

The rams belonged to a company called Mahloenyeng Trading Company (Pty) Ltd.

The then police boss, Jonas Malewa, had microchipped 64 horses at the Police Training College (PTC) a year earlier in a pilot project.

The Home Affairs Ministry had contracted a company called Primate Identity Technology ran by a Jewish man, Yehuda Danziger, to carry out the pilot project.

Danziger was also tasked with observing any side-effects the animals could have after the implantation of the microchip.

The government introduced the microchip implantation technology after realising that stock thieves would easily erase the branding and tattoo marks with red hot metal and acid.

The stock thieves also cut off stolen animals’ ears if they bore the owner’s identification marks.

Microchips are tiny electronic devices, about the size of a grain of rice, which could be stored in a capsule and implanted near the animal’s tail to make it easy to identify and trace lost or stolen animals.

The project however never picked up with successive government not showing any political will to carry it through.

Things are now set to change with Matekane launching the project this Sunday.

Tšepang Mapola & Alice Samuel

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