Top judges off Metsing’s case
TWO High Court judges have recused themselves from a case in which Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is seeking the Constitutional Court to declare as illegal, the acquisition of his banking details by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi would no longer be part of the trial after Mr Metsing lodged an application seeking their recusal to eliminate any possible bias, and suggesting foreign judges to preside over the case.
Sources close to the matter yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the High Court had already secured the services of one judge from South Africa whose names have not yet been disclosed.
The said judge would preside over the case together with Justice John ‘Musi, also from South Africa, who often sits in the Lesotho High Court as an acting judge.
It is expected another South African judge would be appointed to complete the three-member panel to hear the case.
To strengthen his case for requesting foreign judges, Mr Metsing on Wednesday last week filed a damning replying affidavit in which he alleged his coalition government partners had prompted the DCEO’S investigations.
Mr Metsing added the anti-corruption body was allegedly being used by his political rivals to tarnish his reputation and political career, “hoping that would enhance their own political careers.”
He states: “Firstly, it is apparent that the first and second respondents (DCEO’S Director General Borotho Matsoso and DCEO) have been conniving with some politicians to vilify me.
“In this regard, a letter of the Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane) that emerged after the political crisis of August 2014, speaks volumes about this fact.
“In the letter which I annex and mark “RM2”, the Prime Minister alleges that I am involved in corruption.”
Mr Metsing quoted Dr Thabane as saying he is “involved in malpractices and abuse of power leading to huge losses of public funds, possibly for personal gain and this is demonstrated by large amounts of money that are being deposited into his bank account over some time now.”
Mr Metsing further states: “Secondly, the third respondent (Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs Haae Phoofolo) who is a member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), one of the parties in a coalition government with my party, the LCD (Lesotho Congress for Democracy) and BNP (Basotho National Party), made similar allegations at a political rally.
“Though I heard the full speech he made, as it was broadcast on Lesotho Television, I wish to annex herewith and mark “RM3”, a newspaper report of that speech.
“In that speech the third respondent, Mr Phoofolo, who is a trained lawyer by profession, is alleging that I am corrupt and that I have opened several accounts wherein I deposited public monies; that the conduct of the respondents in accessing my accounts is not unconstitutional; that as an expert in the field (of law) he knows that I have no case.”
The LCD leader also considers the said statements significant to his case, arguing Advocate Phoofolo “is designated as a minister for purposes of the administration of the DCEO Act 1999 as amended.
“Secondly, in terms of Section 52 of the DCEO Act, the second respondent (DCEO) is obliged to report to this particular minister.
“It is inconceivable, therefore, that the first and second respond- ents did not brief the said minister on these issues.”
But Mr Metsing also says there are inconsistencies on the accusations made against him by the DCEO and his coalition partners in what he said only indicated a plot to destroy his political career.
He stated: “Notably, the allegation that is common in respect of both the Prime Minister and the third respondent (Adv Phoofolo), contrary to what the first respondent (DCEO Director General) avers, is that the monies deposited into my accounts are public funds, whereas the case of the first and second respondents is that it is money possibly from Big Bravo (Pty) Ltd.”
Big Bravo Construction is a company that was engaged for the upgrading of Matala Phase One and Matala to Ha Leqele Bus Stop roads last year.
The company is alleged to have won the tender due to Mr Metsing’s influence and the company earlier this year left road works incomplete about two months before its contract ended.
The company was awarded the M120 million tender to upgrade the roads in what competitors said could have been a fraudulent process.
In his replying affidavit, Mr Metsing, who is also Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, further states: “To demonstrate that the so-called investigations are but a sham, the leader of the BNP, a party in the coalition government, who is also Youth and Gender Affairs minister, has publicly stated that I am corrupt; and that I have tried to overthrow the government in order to avoid prosecution for corruption.”
He further argued Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana also made similar statements against him.
Mr Metsing further states the DCEO’S corruption investigations against him started immediately when the coalition government started to break down last year.
“The timing of the so-called investigations of my accounts for alleged corruption indeed came almost at the same time with the total fallout between the coalition partners in the government of Lesotho led by the Prime Minister.
“When in September 2013, I stopped him from taking over a ministry allocated to my party, he started making allegations that members of my party were corrupt.
“It was in February 2014, from the papers disclosed now in this application that the so-called investigations commenced, and a unilateral prorogation of Parliament followed in June 2014,” he charged.
However, the lawyers will meet at the High Court on 18 December this year to set the hearing date.
Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara (right) and
Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi