Of­fi­cials fail to pitch up for trial

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

A CASE in which a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port, Motheba Let­soela, and a prom­i­nent con­trac­tor are jointly charged with cor­rup­tion, had to be post­poned this week due to the ab­sence of Direc­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences (DCEO) pros­e­cu­tors.

Ms Let­soela is ac­cused of de­fraud­ing the state of M83 698 be­tween 2008 and 2009, al­legedly after the fic­ti­tious ren­o­va­tion of a gov­ern­ment house in Maseru.

The 41-year-old Let­soela is charged along­side Qeme Build­ing and Civil Con­trac­tors Di­rec­tor, Ma­hapela Thoahlane. The duo first ap­peared be­fore the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court on 14 Au­gust 2014 and the case was post­poned to Tues­day this week.

How­ever, Mr Hla­banyane had to move the case to 15 Novem­ber 2014 once again after DCEO of­fi­cials failed to turn-up in court.

Ad­vo­cates Pa­trick Tšenoli and Mon­a­heng Rasekoai, rep­re­sent­ing the ac­cused in the case, told the court they made nu­mer­ous tele­phone calls to a DCEO lawyer prose­cut­ing the case who kept on ter­mi­nat­ing the calls.

The de­fence team fur­ther al­leged they called another lawyer in the DCEO Pros­e­cu­tion Of­fice, who also did not pick-up the phone.

When post­pon­ing the case, Mr Hla­banyane warned: “If they don’t ap­pear next time, we will take it from there. The ac­cused and their coun­sel are re­leased and will ap­pear on the next date of hear­ing.”

Con­tacted for com­ment yes­ter­day, DCEO Spokesper­son, ‘Matl­hokomelo Senoko, said the lawyer’s ab­sence was not de­lib­er­ate as he was out of the coun­try on business.

“He is out of the coun­try on other work-re­lated mat­ters, so he did not de­lib­er­ately miss the trial. He left the coun­try on Sun­day and is go­ing to be out of the coun­try for the en­tire week,” Ms Senoko said.

“His col­leagues were also en­gaged in other cases and could not be avail­able for that case. I think there has been a com­mu­ni­ca­tion break­down be­tween our Of­fice and the de­fense coun­sel.”

Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, Ms Let­soela al­legedly abused her of­fice and fa­cil­i­tated the pay­ment of M83 698 to Qeme Build­ing and Civil Con­trac­tors un­der the pre­text the company had ren­o­vated a gov­ern­ment house in Florida in Maseru.

“On or be­tween Novem­ber 2008 and March 2009, the ac­cused per­sons in their ca­pac­i­ties afore­said, made false rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho and to its prej­u­dice, that Ac­cused Two (the company) had ren­o­vated, re­paired or main­tained or com­pleted any con­struc­tion work at House No 528 in Florida, Maseru, and as a re­sult thereto, M83 698 was due to Ac­cused Two.

“Ac­cused One (Ms Let­soela) cer­ti­fied, au­tho­rised and cred­ited or made or caused to make pay­ments to Ac­cused Two be­fore pay­ment was due, and that was utilised solely for an an­tic­i­pated sav­ing.

“As a re­sult thereof, pay­ment or au­tho­ri­sa­tion was made on the ba­sis of Ac­cused One in con­tra­ven­tion of the Fi­nan­cial Reg­u­la­tions 1973 for the pur­poses of ob­tain­ing an un­due ad­van­tage for her­self or Ac­cused 2 or 3 (company’s di­rec­tor) or for another per­son,” reads the charge sheet.

In a sep­a­rate charge of cor­rup­tion which Ms Let­soela faces alone, she is ac­cused of abus­ing her pow­ers as a pub­lic of­fi­cer, to autho­rise un­due pay­ment to Qeme Build­ing and Civil Con­tac­tors.

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