POLICE have denied recent media reports that they were investigating Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho chairperson Tlali Tlali in connection with the alleged trafficking of aspiring local models to South Africa.
The story was carried by a local newspaper in the wake of complaints by several aspiring models that they had been conned out of thousands of maloti a by a South African citizen, Mokena Nhlapo who promised them modelling contracts in the neighbouring country.
Nhlapo was accused by the models of using various scams to convince them to part with their money. To some, he claimed to be a representative of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and he was looking for a model to be the face of the political party’s campaigns.
To others, he claimed to be an agent for skin and body-care brand Nivea holding an advertising campaign in Bloemfontein.
Nhlapo was also accused of having promised them a brand new car, R100 000 cash, a laptop and a smart phone if they clinched the contracts. They said Nhlapo would even send pictures of the car and showed them its purported registration papers when they met to prove his claim.
After convincing the models, it was said he would then request money to clear the car with customs at the Maseru Border Post with the amounts ranging from R1 500 to R6 000.
Police spokesperson, Superintendent Clifford Molefe told the Lesotho Times this week that investigations were ongoing and no arrests had been made.
“A case was opened earlier last month by two ladies against one South African citizen (Mokena Nhlapo) but then the police are still investigating the matter and no one has been arrested as yet,” he said, adding they were only investigating Nhlapo.
“There is no case against Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho chairperson Tlali Tlali concerning the trafficking models to South Africa as indicated by one local Friday weekly newspaper on April 27.
“I never spoke to any news reporter about such a matter so there is no truth in that story,” Superintendent Molefe he said.
For her part, BPAL deputy chairperson, Mpitseng Ntsoele told this publication that the association had a mandate to protect models from incidents such as human trafficking.
“The association’s mission is to provide the environment, knowledge and resources to its members so that they can excel in leadership skills,” she said.
“The main objectives of the association are many, including promoting Lesotho patriotism; managing and developing local beauty pageants; ensuring the protection and sustainable growth of those who seek to be part of the industry; protecting the rights of its members; protecting its members from human trafficking schemes,” she said.