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Journalist accused of stealing from friend

Sello Morake

MASERU — A MoAfrika FM news reporter was dragged before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on Friday for allegedly stealing more than M22 000 from a close friend three years ago. 
Mantolo Mohale, 32, was not asked to plead when the case opened before magistrate Senekal Qobolo.
Mohale’s erstwhile friend, Matšepo Lesema, told the court the accused had allegedly stolen the money — which had been stored in a safe at her Ha-Hoohlo home — on an unknown date in July 2007.
According to Lesema, Mohale had allegedly stolen the safe-key three months prior to the disappearance of the cash.
“My husband fell seriously ill on September 9 2006 and died on the same day at Wilis Hospital,” she said.
“After his burial, we started having problems in our family.
“I was having serious problems with my in-laws.
“Among the issues they were raising was that I had not done the traditional cleansing ceremony in the proper manner.
“I told my friend, Mantolo, about my predicament and we decided to go and consult a traditional healer (Majobo) in Ha-Pita in July 2007 on a date I cannot remember.”
Lesema said the healer had recommended that the two stay together while he was trying to sort out the problem. 
“I was advised to stay together with Mohale at my home for my safety,” she said.
“The healer said there were things in my house which posed me a serious danger but would not harm Mohale.
“It was the traditional healer’s instruction that we stay together, not my suggestion as is being claimed by the accused.”
Lesema told the court that Mohale then moved in with her the same month, but would also return to her own home in Ha-Foso. 
“I stayed with the accused in July 2007 but cannot remember the exact dates as she would regularly return to her own home in Ha-Foso,” she said.
“The healer had told me I had not done the cleansing ceremony properly . . . that I would have to do it again.”
On one of her frequent visits, Mohale had allegedly entered the bedroom in which Lesema and her business partner — Malefu Nkhahle — were counting an undisclosed amount of cash.
“I told her the money we were counting was short . . . there was some missing,” Lesema said.
“I did not ask her to re-count the money as she claims. I simply said the money was not enough.”
Lesema said the money was from her money-lending business and sale of perfumes.
“I couldn’t remember exactly how much had been in the safe, but it was more than M40 000,” she said.
“And now some was missing.”
Lesema said her own children were staying with Mohale at Ha-Foso at the time the money went missing, hence her suspicion the accused had stolen the money.
“I reported the case to the police (and they) said they suspected Mantolo was the culprit.” 
The case is being prosecuted by Qinumutsi Tshabalala and the accused — who sat impassively in the dock — is being represented by Mosoeunyane Masiphole.
Trial continues tomorrow.

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