Kao Mine rescues Ntlafatso

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Storm Mountain Diamonds CEO Mohale Ralikariki

By ‘Majirata Latela

After closing doors due to financial constraints, Ntlafatso Skills Training Centre is now up and running after Kao Mine stepped in to rebuild it.

The assistance comes after a clarion call by the centre seeking a helping hand to bring it back to life.

Ntlafatso Skills Training Centre, situated in the district of Mafeteng, was assisted by Kao Mine to become operational again.

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This, after the ministry of labour and employment failed to finance the centre.

The school was opened by South African mines in 1980 with the aim of helping ex-miners to gain skills so as to make a living after retiring from the mines.

It was handed over to the government of Lesotho in 1992. The state decided the centre should accommodate capable candidates such as vulnerable youth who required to gain skills in various disciplines.

Among the skills offered by the centre are plumbing, carpentry, cooking and catering, sewing, motor mechanics as well as panel beating. It also offers certificates in scrap painting, business management and computer literacy which are taught to all students.

Speaking on behalf of the centre, Ntlafatso Skills and Training Centre’s principal, Chaka Lekhoro said the vocational centre is still facing challenges as the centre still has a pile of bills to pay such as electricity and water.

“In 2019, I approached Kao Mine to assist the facility so that it continues to offer the skills which will help Basotho to make a living. The mine did not disappoint and accepted our proposal and stepped in.

“There were so many issues which had to be addressed before reopening of the centre. Hostels needed refurbishment and painting of the centre. Kao mine did all that and further bought us new machinery for three courses; bricklaying, plumbing and cooking and catering.

“The centre was then able to restart operating in February 2020 and offered the above three courses. The mine also made sure that students are catered for provision of the three meals in a day. 

A month later. The centre was forced to close down due to the emerging Covid-19. That closure was forced by the lockdown restrictions as part of measures to control to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It was also experiencing financial difficulties resulting in water and electricity cuts. In addition, the security company guarding the premises also cut its ties with the centre.

On the one hand, Storm Mountain Diamonds, chief executive officer, Mohale Ralikariki was gratified that the mine came to the rescue of the training centre, enabling it to resume studies.

He specified that Kao mine is carrying out plans by prime minister Moeketsi Majoro encouraging the private sector to collaborate with the government to curb rampant unemployment.

There are about 100 youth who are to be enrolled at the centre. He hoped that each student produced at the facility holds two certificates in different studies. That, he observed, will enable them to be skilled in broader skills.

 “Our plan is that at the end of this programme, we will issue expression of interest to all Basotho companies to give us proposals on how they want to tackle youth empowerment. We will be looking for companies that can be able to absorb these youth and also offer them a certain portion of the shares which the mine will buy for them.

“We don’t only want them to get employed in those companies we want them to own companies and Kao will buy shares for these youths.

“Other ventures which the mine is involved in, is manufacturing some detergents made Kao villagers who were trained in that field. Kao is also planning to buy a factory shell at Ha Belo, in Buthat-Buthe, where the products will be produced in greater quantities,” Ralikariki revealed.

The mine, he added, is planning to establish an educational trust that will sponsor candidates for entrance into diploma studies after obtaining the training at the centre.

Ralikariki was convinced that the mine would leave the environment protected after completion of its operates.

It mines diamonds.

 “Furthermore, we are not only looking at the youth but have also partnered with Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre to teach adults who did not get the chance to go to school. We have already selected a place at Kao where the school will be build.

“We learned that when one decides to bring a change in the community one should concentrate on the youth; thus we have established a Pre- School. These are some of the Corporate Social Initiative projects that the mine is carrying out for the Kao community,” he said.