Tue. Aug 20th, 2019

Mofomobe accused of sexual harassment

. . . aspirant BNP deputy leader says smear campaign

LETSATSI LEROOTHO

MASERU – Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Machesetsa Mofomobe is embroiled in a sexual harassment case after a former employee of the Basotho National Party (BNP) accused him of groping her private parts.

’Mamaria Chakache has also taken aim at the BNP hierarchy for reportedly failing to act against Mofomobe but fired her instead.

The 27-year-old has petitioned Speaker of the National Assembly Sephiri Motanyane, Chairperson of the National Assembly Ethics Committee and Official Leader of Opposition Mathibeli Mokhohu, to censure Mofomobe.

But Mofomobe, who is one of the leading candidates for the coveted post of Deputy Leader and a BNP Proportional Representation (PR) MP, has dismissed Chakache’s allegations as mere mud-slinging.

He labelled her of being an accessory to a smear campaign against him being run by his rival, current Deputy Leader Joang Molapo’s people.

While Motanyane and the Ethics committee could not be reached for comment yesterday, Mokhothu acknowledged existence of the letter although he had not yet received it.

Public Eye understands an identified BNP member helped Chakache to open a sexual harassment case against Mofomobe at Maseru Central Charge Office.

This was after the police had initially stonewalled her because the alleged incident happened more than six months ago.

Police spokesman Mpiti Mopeli last night said he was unaware of the case as he was based at Police Headquarters.

Sources close to the matter said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Maseru Central was handling the report.

In identical letters to Mokhothu, Motanyane and the Ethics Committee dated July 2, 2019, Chakache recounts how following the incident, she has had sleepless nights.

BNP authorities, she charged, allegedly promised to take disciplinary action against Mofomobe “but have not to date”.

Chakache said she became the laughing stock at BNP before being “unceremoniously fired” from her job for reporting the alleged harassment.

“I am a member of the BNP who used to work at the party headquarters. I seek your intervention and protection after an incident that has deprived me of peace day and night. I was sexually harassed by Mr Machesetsa Mofomobe in the office of the BNP.

“I reported Mr Machesetsa’s conduct to the BNP leader Chief Thesele ’Maseribane and the national executive committee. The BNP leader and NEC failed to give me the justice I sought. Instead, I was turned into a laughing stock by my fellow BNP cadres and eventually fired from my job.”

In her letter dated May 23, 2019 addressed to the BNP executive committee, ’Mamaria from Lithabaneng constituency, recounts how Mofomobe reportedly emerged from a December 2018 end-of-year NEC meeting and approached her at the reception.

He allegedly instructed a colleague she was with, only identified as Palesa, to go buy him peaches.

Chakache alleged after Palesa left, Mofomobe asked her to get closer to him, which she did.

He allegedly groped her private parts saying “when will you give it to me?”

“I jumped and retreated, very shocked. He looked me in the face and said ‘am I scaring you? Don’t you have a boyfriend? (kea u ts’osa? Don’t you have a boyfriend?)’ I told him that I do have a boyfriend.

“He then asked me ‘doesn’t your boyfriend ever touch you’ (boyfriend ea hau ha e ke be e u ts’oare)? Immediately he went outside, after which Palesa who he had sent to buy peaches returned from the errand,” Chakache alleges.

“I was crying when Palesa came and recounted everything that transpired in her absence. She advised me to report the matter to the office of secretary general through one Ntate Letsepe who is the administrative secretary.

“Ntate Letsepe promised me that disciplinary measures would be taken against Mr Mofomobe.”

Moreover, she alleges that two days later Mofomobe came to the BNP office, found her at her desk writing some BNP cards, leaned on the office desk and nodded towards her genital area saying “you still refuse to give it to me”? (u ntso hana ka ‘nyee?).

She “kept quiet because Ntate Letsepe was already dealing with the matter”.

“I humbly seek your intervention in this matter because I am a Mosotho woman who knows her rights. Whenever I see him (Mofomobe) I get scared. I request that you deal with this matter swiftly as it deprives me of peace. I request a written response within three days from today,” Chakache told the BNP NEC.

Yesterday, Mofomobe told this paper that he was not bothered by Chakache’s accusations because “she’s an accessory to a campaign being mounted by Joang’s camp to discredit me”.

“Joang knows that I am going to wallop him at the elective conference. She should allow herself to be used by Joang. Why is she only making those allegations when the election campaign heats? Why did she not make them immediately after the alleged incident happened?

“Why didn’t she report the matter to the police, who would in turn institute a court case against me, so that I can defend myself and defeat her there and then?”

He added: “My case is no different from former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, who was accused of rape in order to block him from contesting elections in the ANC. Despite the looming accusations, Zuma went on to win the case. The same applies with me.”

So intense is the animosity between Mofomobe who is BNP leader ’Maseribane’s nephew and Molapo, that a faction supporting the latter’s candidacy a fortnight ago, blocked the party’s elective conference which was scheduled for July 12 to 14.

High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara ordered the postponement to allow the NEC to address irregularities exposed in some constituencies.

 

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