After months of planning, the project is getting underway and we can start the case selection process. Our legal team, Adrian and Qach, carried out a field trip in mid-May.
Report from Adrian Pole
“After a warm reunion, Qach and I set off towards the Katse region of Lesotho, to begin the process of case selection among the communities who have been affected by the LHWP. After a long drive over rough terrain, we came to Petsang, where we met Jacob Lenka of the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), who is working on their Water for Justice Programme.
“Jacob has been building links with the affected communities, particularly those in the Mohale region, and it is clear that he has established solid contacts with the people, and a deep knowledge of the history and issues. Jacob could not accompany us all the way to Katse so Qach and I set off once more on a four hour trip, driving via the Marakebi pass to ThaboTseka and from there to Katse. We were in search of Chief Khetang, one of the people who had first approached Protimos for help.
“Khetang turned out to be an elusive man, but luck was on our side, and coming up a steep mountain pass leading a pony and three donkeys was Chief Thabo Selebeli of another nearby village. He was able to direct us towards Khetang’s homestead. But interested in our work, he also informed us about some families where parents had died and the minor children had as a consequence been left out of co-operative societies that distributed compensation.
We eventually found Khetang who remembered Protimos’ initial visit well, and informed us that his community were still suffering. They had been moved because of the seismic shifts, and complained that replacement houses were either inferior to what was promised or were not built at all. He reported that many who had lost fields to the dam still had no replacement fields, and mentioned that the community had only received one compensation payment whereas they had been promised annual payments.
“He also complained of lost access to forest resources (wood and medicines). He was very happy to hear that lawyers have been employed to try and help the affected communities, and indicated that he was keen to take up the issue. He also offered to set up a Pitso (traditional gathering) for Qach in the near future.”