A CHINESE meat wholesaler, Chen Jin Song, who was arrested last week for allegedly selling rotten meat at his Maseru butchery will soon be deported, according to Trade and Industry Minister Tefo Mapesela.
Mr Mapesela revealed this during a ceremony where the China-Lesotho People-to-People Action Fund donated an assortment of goods to 12 primary schools in Mokhotlong this week.
Speaking in the presence of China’s ambassador to Lesotho Sun Xianghua and several Chinese business people, Mr Mapesela said he agreed with Dr Xianghua to deport Mr Chen.
Last Wednesday, Mr Mapesela accompanied the police to raid Mr Chen’s butchery near the Lepoqong Taxi Rank in Maseru. Mr Chen was later arrested for exposing the public to health risk through the rotten meat products.
Mr Mapesela said he had visited the butchery before to warn Mr Chen against selling expired meat but the latter seemed to believe that he was above the law because he would bribe government officials to turn a blind eye to the complaints of the public.
“I first visited the butchery last December and warned its owner against exposing the public to contaminated meat,” Mr Mapesela said.
“We later discovered that he continued with his illicit trade thinking his money would protect him by bribing officials.
“We have agreed with the ambassador (Dr Xianghua) to deport all the Chinese who do not comply with laws of Lesotho so that they do not tarnish the good relations that the two countries enjoy.
“Last week I found meat at Mr Chen’s shop which expired last year. This proves that Mr Chen has no intentions of abiding by the laws which govern Lesotho. Therefore, we have no other option but to send him back to China,” Mr Mapesela said.
In the aftermath of last Wednesday’s raid of Mr Chen’s butchery, the media was awash with stories that Sky Country stores in Lesotho had been shut down for exposing the public to health risks through the sale of rotten meat.
It was even reported that Sky Country had previously found themselves on the wrong side of the law for a similar offence in 2013 when the then Trade Minister, Temeki Tšolo, ordered one of ‘their’ Maseru butcheries to be shut down.
However, the South African company dismissed any involvement in the meat scandal, saying they do not own butcheries or any other retail outlets in Lesotho.
Sky Country director, Jaco Coetsee, told the Lesotho Times’ sister Sunday Express publication that they did not have any franchises in Lesotho and the stores which were said to be theirs were in fact owned by a company called Shake Universary International.
Mr Coetsee said their only relationship with the Lesotho outlets was that of supplier and client as the latter sourced their meat products from them.
“The media incorrectly reported on Thursday 11 May 2018 that Sky Country stores were closed due to health and safety reasons,” Mr Coetsee said.
“The stores in question are owned by Shake Universary International. These stores commonly became known as ‘Sky Country’ stores in Lesotho since the majority of products offered are Sky Country’s products.
“The stores in question are owned and managed by Mr Chen Jin Song and are in no way controlled and/or franchised by Sky Country South Africa. Sky Country merely supplies various clients in Lesotho and unfortunately has very limited control over how their products are managed and handled, once exported to Lesotho,” Mr Coetsee said.