MASERU — Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili says if former trade minister Temeki Tšolo was fired for allegedly assaulting a customs employee, agriculture minister Litšoane Litšoane should also face the music for assaulting his domestic worker.
Addressing his main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party rally in the Khafung constituency on Sunday September 22, Mosisili said if Tšolo was fired for assaulting an employee of the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), a similar punishment should be meted out against Litšoane as the duo “committed similar crimes”.
“Tšolo assaulted an employee of the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and was fired for it. We’re yet to see what agriculture minister Litšoane Litšoane’s fate will be for also attacking one of his employees,” Mosisili said.
“This country does not deserve such a calibre of ministers. It is just as well that they are being removed, an indication that what is bad should be spat at.”
On the morning of September 6, Litšoane allegedly assaulted ’Maneo Moifo, his female domestic worker hired for him by the labour ministry as part of his ministerial benefits, for allegedly rejecting his sexual advances on the same day.
According to Moifo while speaking to the Lesotho Times on Monday this week, in the company of her husband Paseka Moifo, the minister had allegedly touched her breast, groped her private parts and grabbed her buttocks that morning just after 5am when she went to his bedroom to serve him his morning tea “as I usually do”.
Moifo and her husband further alleged that Litšoane also pleaded with them to keep the alleged sexual harassment and assault under wraps and not report it to the police, as doing so would damage his reputation, to which the couple agreed.
Over a month ago Tšolo allegedly assaulted an employee of the LRA for delaying to bring him his change of M10 at the Van Rooyen’s Border Gate in Mafeteng.
A charge of assault against Tšolo was laid with the police and soon thereafter allegations surfaced that Tšolo was facing the axe for the misdemeanour.
The former trade minister, the first to be expelled from Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s coalition government established in June 2012, received his letter of expulsion at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport on Saturday September 21, after alighting from a flight from Turkey.
The following week Tšolo was replaced by his former deputy minister Sek’hulumi Ntsoaole while Maliehe Maliehe, MP for the Teya-Teyaneng constituency under the All Basotho Convention (ABC) banner, assumed the post of deputy minister.
Meanwhile Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), a renowned Southern African feminist and human rights organisation that supports evidence based interventions to promote and protect women and girls’ socio-cultural-economic status, says if the allegations levelled against Litšoane by Moifo are true, they amount to an “assault as well as sexual harassment in the workplace”.
Libakiso Matlho, WLSA national co-ordinator for the Lesotho chapter, told this paper on Tuesday, having spoken with Moifo and her husband Paseka on Monday, that if the allegations are true, Moifo could sue based on the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the Labour Code and the Penal Code Act, 2010.
“She (‘Maneo) should lodge a criminal case against her alleged perpetrator with the police because if the alleged assault is true, assault in itself is criminal,” Matlho said.
“Because the alleged sexual harassment is defined as ‘harassment in the workplace’ in the labour code, ‘M’e Moifo could also lodge a civil claim against her employer.”
The Sexual Offenses Act 2003, section 5 (2) under “Inducement to allow sexual act” says, “A person who induces another to submit to a sexual act through the use of his authority, status, power, privilege, or other undue influence, commits asexual offence.”
“Section 22 (1) of the same Act under ‘Evidence of psychological effects’ states that evidence of the psychological effects of a sexual act shall be admissible in criminal proceedings at which an accused is charged with a commission of a sexual offence in order “to prove, for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence, the extent of the mental harm suffered by the complainant”.
On the other hand, section 51 (1) and (2) of the Penal Code Act, 2010 under Indecent Assault cites that “a person who, without the consent of another person, touches that person in an indecent manner, commits the offence of indecent assault”.
It adds: “A touching may be deemed indecent if, according to the standards of reasonable members of the community, it demonstrates a sexual intention or motive.”
Meanwhile this paper has learnt that a copy of ’Maneo’s medical report was yesterday given to her legal representative, Advocate Salemane Phafane KC’s office, in a move to sue Litšoane in a court of law.
The medical report, the source revealed, indicated that since the alleged assault, ’Maneo’s hand has been swollen while her leg is seemingly also injured.
According to the source, the report further indicates that ‘Maneo has also been “suffering from insomnia (sleeplessness) and persistent headaches”.
When contacted for comment, Phafane declined to talk about the case but confirmed that the Moifos were his clients but could only say “our discussions are still at the preliminary stage”.
Asked to shed light on the possible grounds on which to sue Litšoane, Phafane said he could only get into the case “once I have filed papers in court”.
“It is still too early to talk about it as we’re still consulting. Therefore I am not at liberty to discuss the issue, it is between lawyer and client,” Phafane said.