PROMINENT Mokhotlong wool and mohair farmer Khotsang Moshoeshoe, who recently hit the headlines when he was filmed having an altercation with Trade and Industry Tefo Mapesela, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Moshoeshoe stands accused of contravening Sections 23, 74 and 84 of the Penal Code Act of 2010 which criminalise behaviour that breaches the public peace.
Section 23, subsection of the Penal Code states that “a person who counsels, procures or incites another to do any act or make any such omission of such a nature that if the act were done or the omission were made, an offence would thereby be committed, commits an offence”.
Section 76 (1) stipulates that “a person who, with a number of other people, come together in an unlawful gathering with the intention of defying or subverting the authority of the government of Lesotho… commits an offence of sedition.
Section 84 states that “a person who, in a public place, uses obscene, abusive, threatening or insulting words or behaviour or otherwise conducts himself with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or in such a manner that a breach of the peace is committed or likely to be committed, commits an offence”.
Acting police spokesperson Senior Inspector Rantoane Motsoetla yesterday confirmed Mr Moshoeshoe’s arrest.
“Mr Khotsang Moshoeshoe, a Mosotho man of Ha Mojakisane in the Mokhotlong district is in police custody at Mokhotlong facing for contravening some sections of the Penal Code Act of 2010,” Senior Insp Motsoetla said, adding Mr Moshoeshoe would appear in court once the investigations were completed.
Senior Inspector Motsoetla did not however disclose the specific charges that could be preferred against Mr Moshoeshoe.
Three weeks ago, Mr Moshoeshoe barred Minister Mapesela for closing some shearing plants as part of the government’s crusade to force wool and mohair farmers to adhere to the Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) Regulations of 2018 which have roundly criticized and resisted by the farmers.
The regulations forbid anyone to trade in wool and mohair without a licence obtained from the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing.
The regulations further state that “the holder of an export licence shall not export wool and mohair unless it is prepared, brokered, traded and auctioned in Lesotho”.
Any person found guilty of brokering, testing, processing, trading and auctioning wool and mohair without a licence is liable to a fine of M50 000 or a maximum of five years imprisonment.
Anyone found to be in the business of shearing wool and mohair or exporting without a licence will be fined M20 000 or be imprisoned for two years.
Last week the government’s stand-off with farmers scaled unprecedented levels when thousands of farmers organised by the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) from across the country staged a protest march in Maseru to force the government to reverse the regulations.
Before that Mr Moshoeshoe was filmed having a heated argument with Mr Mapesela who wanted to close a shearing shed. A second video also showed Mr Moshoeshoe remonstrating with some police officers who wanted to close the shearing facility.
Mr Mapesela this week told the Lesotho Times that he did not habour any grudges or personal vendetta against Mr Moshoeshoe despite their altercation.
“I have no personal vendetta against him and I won’t sue him, unless the police will sue him for what he did. Mr Moshoeshoe didn’t just call me a boy, he also insulted me with unprintable insults but because I was there on my capacity as a minister, it’s now an issue between him and the law enforcement institutions of this country.
“He has defeated the ends of justice, insulted me and barred me from doing my job and calling me a dreamer, he should have gone to the courts of law and sued me than insult me. That man insulted me but I ignored his provocation because I am highly professional,” Mr Mapesela said.