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Health Minister’s brother dies of Covid-19

Limpho Sello

THE deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has claimed the life of Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo’s elder brother, Khabi Maqelepo.

Khabi died on Tuesday just five days after he was admitted at the Berea Isolation Hospital in Teyateyaneng.

Mr Maqelepo confirmed the death of his brother in an interview with the Sunday Express this week.

“My brother passed away but I am not willing to talk about it now,” Mr Maqelepo said.

“I am not supposed to be taking calls from the media on this issue because I am still grieving. I am a human being and I also grieve regardless of the position I hold. I need to be allowed to grieve.

“I will talk about it (the death) at the right time but right now I have to respect my family by not talking about it.”

Mr Maqelepo had taken to his Facebook page on Thursday to express his grief at his brother’s death.

He said his brother, who was employed at Letšeng Diamond Mine in Mokhotlong, succumbed to the virus at the Berea Hospital.

He said his brother was informed over the phone that he had tested positive for Covid-19 sometime last week. He said at the time of the phone call, his brother was on his way to his home in Berea where he decided to self-isolate.

Unfortunately, his health deteriorated and the next day the family checked him into the Berea Hospital where he died this week.

“My brother was informed of his Covid-19 results by phone while he was traveling to his home in Berea. He decided to self-isolate when he got home.

“However, a day later, his health deteriorated and we were forced to take him to the Berea Hospital where we believed he would recover after getting treatment. But he died less than five days after being admitted,” Mr Maqelepo wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.

Mr Maqelepo used the tragedy to appeal to Basotho to fully comply with the public health regulations requiring them to practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, wear masks in public and frequently wash their hands with recommended sanitisers to reduce their chances of contracting the deadly virus.

He urged the nation to immediately seek medical assistance whenever they experienced signs and symptoms of the virus.

He said although they appreciated the outpouring of support on their tragic loss, the family was pleading with the nation to allow them to conduct the funeral in line with the public health regulations which restrict funeral attendees to not more than 10 people.

“I plead with the public to allow us to respect the Covid-19 regulations by allowing us to bury the deceased as a family with not more than 10 people in attendance. “We know that you would have wanted to come and support us but at this moment and time, the best support you can offer is to stay at home.

“We would like to thank Letšeng Diamond Mine for all their efforts in fighting Covid-19 and their support during this difficult time. We would equally like to relay our heartfelt gratitude to the staff, doctors and nurses at Berea hospital for their unwavering support, commitment and bravery to save lives.”

It is not clear whether Khabi has been included in the Health ministry’s latest statistics showing that 14 out of the 702 people who have contracted Covid-19 in Lesotho have succumbed to the deadly virus.

High Court Judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane, who died on 14 July 2020, is the most high-profile figure to have succumbed to the virus in Lesotho to date.



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