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Sexual assault charged Volleyball coach bemoans foul-play

Business

Chris Theko

The Lepreng Olymafrica Center Manager Khotso Mahloko who has been axed from his position as coach of a youth team over allegations of sexual abuse on his players, claims that there are elements within the association sowing discord against him.

Mahloko has been suspended by the Lesotho Volleyball Association (LVA) for alleged sexual assault on a minor, this publication has learnt.

He is coach of the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) volleyball development team Lepreng Olymafrica Center (LOC)from which position he has been slapped with a 10-year suspension from the sport.

In a letter by the LVA Secretary General, Sebolelo Ntlhokoe dated 12 July 2022 sent to all the LVA clubs and members, Mahloko is announced suspended although there is no reason being communicated for the abrupt decision.

“This letter serves to inform you that Mr. Khotso Mahloko has been suspended from all Volleyball activities for a period of ten years. The decision was made by the Lesotho Volleyball Association Executive Committee following a none satisfactory[sic] response to a show cause why letter written to him by the Executive Committee,” reads the letter, before adding that the reason for the secrecy is that “… Mr. Mahloko has the right to appeal to the AGM and that the Executive would not want to appear as influential to the proceedings”.

However, by his own admission in his letter to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Council (LSRC), the suspension was in relation to his sexual assault charges laid by the LVA.

Penning his frustration and requesting for the council’s intervention, Mahloko labels the LVA as the mole that is devouring him from within.

“Following the withdrawal of a suspicious case on allegation of sexual harassment against me by one of my former athletes, the Lesotho Volleyball Association (LVA) on the basis of the ongoing case wrote me a show cause letter why I could not be suspended. I must emphasise that some of the members of the LVA Executive Committee are alleged to have an influence on the said case.

“I, nonetheless, responded to the letter as directed. Later I was served with a ten-year suspension from all activities of LVA,” he writes.

In the letter, Mahloko further requests the LSRC through the office of the CEO to look into the influence of the show cause letter.

Be that as it may, a source privy to the matter who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity confirmed the withdrawn case Mahloko refers to in his letter while also implying that the coach has been sexually assaulting a number of the girls playing for the LOC Volleyball Ladies team under his care, of which he was found.

The source said that association had learned of the sexual assault on the minors due to an incident that took place at the camp of the under-20 girls’ volleyball team during preparations for the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games at the Makoanyane sporting grounds.

“The association learned of a behavior of sexual abuse amongst the young girls by Khotso during the preparations of the AUSC region 5 games after he arrived at their camp and one of the girls collapsed upon sighting him,” said the source. 

The girl is said to have identified Mahloko as her sexual tormentor when she eventually came-to. Subsequently, a case is said to have been opened but “…the case was dropped after he apologized saying he sexually assaulted the young player while he was under the influence of alcohol”.

Following the withdrawal of the case, the LVA had then written him the show-cause whose response is what resulted in the suspension in question. 

The matter was then taken to the LNOC as Mahloko’s employers whose CEO was alleged to have blamed the comeuppance on the young player labelling her as “lose”.

“He further accused the LVA of having a vendetta against Khotso as a person hence they wanted him to be removed from his position,” said the source. 

But LVA Vice President Administration, Masoli Khoanyane told this publication that the association is not out to get anyone, but to ensure uprooting of unbecoming behavior such as sexual harassment in the sport. 

He said the LVA stance of any form of abuse in the sport is clear and they will not compromise thereon. 

“We as the LVA will not condone any form of abuse let alone sexual harassment on young girls, that kind of behaviour does not have a place in our sport,” Khoanyane said. 

He acknowledged that Mahloko is one of the best coaches who has contributed immensely to the growth and development of volleyball in the country.

Mahloko has been the manager at the Olymafrica center since 2015 where he later started developing and coaching both the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams. 

“The truth is Ntate Khotso is one of the best coaches we have in our sports, he has been doing an incredible job developing and contributing to the growth of the sport in the country but what we noticed is all the while he has been having ulterior motives of using those young girls.

“We have learned that the victim who collapsed upon seeing him was not the first as many other of them have been coming forward but we are protecting them as they are minors. Others have left the Olymafrica team,” Khoanyane said.

Khoanayne further mentioned the disappointment in the manner in which the LNOC CEO seemed to be handling the matter accusing the LNOC of protecting Mahloko despite the number of victims who have come forward. 

“The LVA was very disappointed that Mr Khotso seems to be getting protection and support from the LNOC who are his direct employers. This is because when we went to meet the LNOC on the matter the CEO was not welcoming in his comments and remarks. Saying that I personally have a vendetta against Khotso which is not true because I acknowledge that he is one of the best coaches in the sport and I value his contribution,” Khoanyane said. 

For his part, LNOC CEO Morake Raleaka denied claims that he was protecting Mahloko citing that he has no reason to protect an alleged perpetrator of such an act as sexual harassment, although he wants for a proper procedure to be followed. 

“I have no reason to protect anyone let alone someone said to have allegedly done such an act but I am already working on bringing in an expert from Botswana to assist with the investigation of this matter.

“We have processes and procedures as the LNOC that we follow just as any organization does which I am sure LVA also has but they should not try to force LNOC to by-pass the procedure in place under any circumstances,” Raleaka said.

He stated that the LVA did bring the matter to his attention but he did not in any way say any of the statements alleged by the LVA or Khoanyane and said he does not even know the victim hence he cannot have made the comments he is being accused of making about the victim. 

“The only part I am aware of is the case that was withdrawn by the victim with the guardian and matter settled out of court. The LNOC will take action based only on evidence that will be provided by the expert,” he added.

Raleaka mentioned that there is no time frame when the said expert will be in the country to conduct the investigation. 

Meanwhile, approached for a comment by this publication, to give his side on the allegations, Mahloko refused to comment on the matter saying he would prefer not to comment at the moment as the matter is seized by the LNOC and the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Committee (LSRC). “I prefer to not comment on this matter regarding any of the claims and allegations made against me as this matter is now being attended to by the relevant mother bodies,” Mahloko said.

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