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Commission defies ministry directive on probe

Teboho Molapo

MASERU — The Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) defied a ministerial directive to probe crowd violence which saw one person shot and vehicles destroyed during a premier league soccer match in January last year, the Sunday Express can reveal.

One person was shot and two more suffered serious injuries during a Vodacom Premier League match between Matlama and Lioli at Pitso Ground on January 24 in Maseru.

The match was abandoned 13 minutes from full-time with Matlama leading 3-0. 

Chaos erupted as rival fans threw beer bottles and other missiles at each other as Matlama celebrated their third goal.

Four vehicles were also smashed as running battles between the two teams’ supporters spilt onto the nearby streets.

Soon after, Sports Minister ‘Mathabiso Lepono announced that she had instructed the LSRC to set up a commission of inquiry into the incident.

“I met with the Sports Commission and instructed them to set up an inquiry and make recommendations (because) we can’t speak directly to the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa),” Lepono said in February last year.

The ministry instructed Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) to compile a report of the match which LSRC would then use for its inquiry.

But LSRC chief executive officer Kholoang Mokalanyane on Friday told the Sunday Express no investigation would take place.

“We weren’t doing an inquiry. We were never instructed to launch an inquiry into the matter. 

“It has been overtaken by events, there is no need to investigate,” he said.

Instead, Mokalanyane said, Lefa had compiled a report around May last year which the commission was satisfied with.

“We are satisfied (with the reports).

“The biggest thing was the reassurance of the measures they were taking to make sure crowd trouble doesn’t recur.  It is yet to be seen whether they will be successful.

“What we demanded is that the onus is on them to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I would say so far so good,” Mokalanyane said.

Asked what would happen if similar incidents happened again because an inquiry had not been conducted into the Matlama and Lioli match, Mokalanyane said: “If it happened again we would have to meet again to discuss what we would do.”

He said they had not put any penalties in place to discourage clubs from violent behaviour.

Only last week a Berea LMPS player allegedly threatened a referee with a firearm during a B division playoff match against Melele in Mokhotlong.

The Lefa probe cited lack of security in and around match venues as one of the contributory factors fanning crowd violence.

No arrests have been made by police yet into the Matlama and Lioli match.

Meanwhile very little has been done to improve safety at Vodacom Premier League match venues.

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