Top judges off Mets­ing’s case

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

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

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