MASERU — Former labour minister Sello Machakela says he cheated on his wife because he was lonely.
Machakela this week admitted he had an affair with ‘Mamonts’eng Manetsa, the woman he is now accused of battering.
He denies beating her.
Instead he accuses her of stealing his money and a cellphone.
Machakela says his love affair with Manetsa, a single mother of two, started in 2009 but soured mid-last year when “she started making demands and stealing” from him.
The former minister is the deputy chairman of the All Basotho Convention party but he is in parliament on a Lesotho Workers Party ticket because of the parties’ alliance.
Machakela is married and has four children who stay in South Africa with their mother.
“I was lonely. That is why I did that,” he said in an interview on Friday.
As labour minister Machakela was responsible for a workforce that health experts say is most affected by HIV and Aids.
Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, at 23.2 percent, behind Swaziland and Botswana.
Aid organisations say HIV and Aids are the biggest threats to Lesotho’s human capital.
Almost 200 000 children in Lesotho have been orphaned by HIV and Aids.
But with the help of donors the government of Lesotho is trying to contain the scourge.
Health experts say the disease is fuelled by people who have multiple sexual partners.
Machakela however says he does not condone extramarital affairs.
“Even though I did it that does not mean that it is right. I was just lonely because my family is far from me,” he says.
“But being lonely is not a justification for anyone to engage in extramarital affairs.
“She is the only other lady that I was seeing. I admit that it was a mistake that I made. It is not right”.
Machakela says he ended his affair with Manetsa not because he thought it was not right but after his mistress allegedly stole from him and started making demands.
“I tried to tell her to stop stealing. I told her that even if she was poor it was not a justification to take other people’s things,” he says.
“When she continued stealing I decided that I should end the affair.”
Machakela says he has two pending cases of theft against Manetsa.
He says allegations that he beat her are false.
Manetsa is trying to damage my reputation because I refused to give her money, he says.
He alleges that Manetsa threatened to damage his political career when he refused to give her money for her child’s school fees.
“That is when she said she was going to make people hate me,” Machakela says.
“She started blackmailing me saying that she would make me stink like a beetle.
“After some time I decided that I had had enough of her threats and told her to go and say what she wanted about me.
“That is when she went to the police and claimed that I had beaten her. That is not true.”
Machakela says many politicians in Lesotho have been blackmailed by people they have extramarital affairs with.
According to him, Manetsa was a general hand at the Ministry of Justice but has since been laid off.
Manetsa could not be reached for a comment despite several attempts to contact her by this paper.
Her phone numbers were not available.