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A nightmare for trafficked footballer



MASERU – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This was certainly the case for Mohau Majara, a 25-year-old amateur football player from Ha-Seoli, who ended up in a whirlwind nightmare last October because of a lie he could not resist.

Majara has never played football professionally but thought he had a jackpot when his Nigerian neighbour, Sikuru Rasheed, promised to find him a team in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A quick call to the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) to verify Rasheed’s lies could have saved him.

Even though Majara is not associated with any club that is a member of LEFA, the association would have told him what documents are needed to authenticate a move abroad.

As someone who has not even played in the A-Division and was at an age where it is almost impossible to find a team in the Vodacom Premier League, Majara probably should have seen the red flags.

However, he is a factory worker in Masowe who survives on a pittance. He thought his football talent had finally paid off even if he had stopped playing to focus on finding a job in order to make a living.

Majara went to Dubai and for five months was a puppet for Nigerians who not only used him to open bank accounts and take out installment contracts, but also got him married to a woman he had never met before.

It is a story that would give Hollywood writers a run for their money. The first time the story was told it felt like a tale laced with a bit of fiction. Majara’s story gave mixed emotions of anger, pity and the sheer wonder of how one can be so stupid.

However, when Majara told his story, it became clear it was not about stupidity – it exposed the fact that poverty and desperation do not have bounds. People are willing to do whatever it takes to make it to a better life, even if it means risking their lives.

LEFA does not have a registered player agency and anyone claiming to be a player agent in Lesotho is a fraud. The association’s secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, said LEFA is still waiting for guidance from FIFA on how to launch a player agency in the country.

Mohapi was not aware of Majara’s case when he was contacted for comment. In any case, he said LEFA is not involved in talks between players and potential suitors. He said LEFA would only get involved when a deal is properly struck and is time to issue an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to allow the player to play in a foreign country.

“We do not have player representatives in Lesotho,” Mohapi said.

“We are still awaiting FIFA guidance to properly roll it out and to be sure we have it with the right people, because some of these people are not in good standing with the association, they just want to do things in an unregulated way. We are not going to allow it,” he insisted.

Mohapi said in a proper transaction LEFA would know the team and would be able to corroborate any transfer by going into FIFA’s system to check if it is true.

Mohapi said there should be a formal invitation from a foreign club if you are going on trials, and, crucially, you should know who is taking you there.

“You throw caution to the wind, if someone comes here and says an American club wants to sign someone (without a club) you need to pick it out that it’s a lie,” Mohapi said.

“Where did they see you play?” he continued.

“It cannot be, you would probably have to be in the A-Division or the Premier League for them to see you.”

Mohapi added: “With clubs like that you surely should have been in the national team for them to see you. You cannot say that you are playing in the dust and all of a sudden you are so skilled that you are wanted by (an American club) or Kaizer Chiefs.”

While LEFA’s hands are tied in Majara’s case because it involves a non-member of the association, Mohapi said what LEFA can do is to be friends with the court in order to ensure the trafficker gets a heavy sentence.
The case continues at the Maseru Magistrate Court today.

Tlalane Phahla

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