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Famo artiste assaulted during confrontation with vendors

The Lesotho Music Rights Association
(LMRA) spokesperson, Ramosa Bosiu, who escaped unhurt during the clashes, told
the Sunday Express that they went to Maseru’s streets to warn the
pirates that they were committing a crime by unlawfully duplicating their CDs.
“We were humbly telling them that piracy
is a crime when some of them angrily told us that the word piracy (was an
insult),” Bosiu said.

“Some of them began throwing stones at
us and when we ran away they took out knives and sticks from the shacks and
chased us,” he said.
“They caught Boima and assaulted him.
They seemed be ready for attack, in light of the way in which they were armed.
We did not mean any harm that’s why we went to them unarmed.”

Cars that were parked nearby were also
damaged, Bosiu said.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said
he was not aware of the incident when contacted yesterday.
Tourism Minister ’Mamahele Radebe
condemned the violence during her first meeting with artistes on Friday.
“I called this meeting after an
unfortunate incident that occurred on Wednesday where artistes went on the
streets to fight piracy. Some of those artistes were injured while cars were

“That is a disgrace and I disapprove of
such behaviour from street vendors who think they can support their families at
the cost of artistes.”
Radebe added: “Reproducing and selling
music against their owners’ consent is theft and is illegal and that will not
be condoned by the government of Lesotho and my ministry.”
Radebe said her ministry along with the
police will protect artistes by helping them stamp out piracy.

“What the street vendors are doing with
the music and DVDs is the same as stock theft so I urge that you hold snap
checks to keep away the criminals,” she said.
“We also need to not only fight the
street vendors but the root of the problem for I don’t believe that the vendors
have the capacity to re-produce this much pirated material.”
Radebe said she planned to draft an
amendment to the Copyright Act of 1989 at the end 100 days since the
establishment of government.

She said she was concerned with the
increasing cases of piracy that rob artistes of their intellectual property and
leaves them unable to take care of their families.
“We are at the final stages of preparing
an amendment Bill of the Copyright Act 1989, Order 13,” she said.
Radebe said the amendment will also
enable police to raid different towns in the country in search of pirated CDs
and DVDs.

“This disgraceful behaviour is causing
poverty, not only to the artistes but it is negatively affecting the country
and we will work hand-in-hand to fight it,” the minister added.
Radebe said among the benefits of the
amendment is that artistes would receive royalties for their music.
She said artistes do not bother the government
seeking employment but instead they help create employment.
“We understand your cry for justice and
we are here to walk this road and fight this war with you,” she said.
Lebohang Letšohla of Sefako sa Menoaneng
famo group said they were pleased with the government’s commitment to
fight piracy.

“We are very grateful that after a very
long time of crying we are being heard.”
Among problems that artistes asked the
minister to look into is the LRA’s tax rate which according to them is not
helping them grow.

Artistes also
urged Radebe to establish an arts council which will help promote the growth of
artistes and the arts industry.

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