Tha­hane’s M24m fraud case de­ferred

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi yes­ter­day post­poned to June 2015, a case in which for­mer En­ergy, Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Wa­ter Af­fairs min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane is be­ing ac­cused of de­fraud­ing gov­ern­ment of over M24 mil­lion.

The case re­volves around the Block Farm­ing Project which the gov­ern­ment em­barked on six years ago when Dr Tha­hane was still Fi­nance and De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning min­is­ter.

The case was set to pro­ceed be­fore the High Court yes­ter­day, to­day and to­mor­row, as well as Tues­day and Wed­nes­day next­ever, Jus­tice Mon­aphathi was forced to post­pone the much-awaited trial to 1 June 2015 year after Dr Tha­hane’s South African lawyer, Se­nior Coun­sel Du­misa Buhle Nt­se­beza ap­plied for a post­pone­ment.

Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza ar­gued he needed more time to pre­pare for his client’s de­fence as he is fac­ing a very se­ri­ous charge of fraud un­der the Pe­nal Code Act of 2010.The lawyer sub­mit­ted he only got in­struc­tions to rep­re­sent Dr Tha­hane on Fri­day last week and had only spent 10 hours with him, which he ar­gued was not enough.

Jus­tice Mon­aphathi said he was re­luc­tantly post­pon­ing the case. De­liv­er­ing the rul­ing after a day­long ar­gu­ment, Jus­tice Mon­aphathi said: “The decision I am about to make is not easy.“i want it to be noted that the dates of to­day (Wed­nes­day) to Fri­day, as well as those of next week were set in agree­ment by both coun­sel.“how­ever, I am grant­ing the post­pone­ment be­cause I was com­pelled by law to pro­tect the rights of ev­ery ac­cused per­son in a crim­i­nal trial as pro­vided for by Le­sotho’s Con­sti­tu­tion and other laws.

“Prin­ci­ples about the rights of ac­cused per­sons are tried and are of gen­eral ap­pli­ca­tion.“the prin­ci­ples of the rights of the ac­cused are in­volved here. We might even have to for­get the his­tory of this case it­self.

“Some may see prej­u­dice in the de­lay of this case while oth­ers may see rea­son out of the de­lay.

“What is im­por­tant is the right of the ac­cused per­sons. It doesn’t mat­ter what Mr Tha­hane is or what he has been; he has rights. That’s what I am con­cerned about now.“i re­peat that I am mak­ing this decision re­luc­tantly, but the ac­cused’s rights come first.

“Cases of this na­ture have made a lot of noise in so­ci­ety and this one might also cause some noise. But that is not what in­flu­ences the court,” he said.the judge then or­dered the lawyers to se­cure fresh dates for the hear­ing and they agreed on 1 June next year.

Mean­while, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the state, Se­nior Coun­sel Guido Pen­zhorn, had sug­gested that the case could at least pro­ceed next week but the judge re­jected the pro­posal on the grounds that Dr Tha­hane had a right to be prop­erly legally rep­re­sented as his lawyer said he needed ad­e­quate time to study the case. Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, Dr Tha­hane on June 6 2008 al­legedly mis­rep­re­sented to Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank that then Prime Min­is­ter, Pakalitha Mo­sisili, and then Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Ralechate ‘Mokose, had en­dorsed the Block Farm­ing project for veg­etable farm­ers be­long­ing to Temo-‘moho Mpha­rane Agri­cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion of Leribe, re­sult­ing in gov­ern­ment los­ing M18 092 587.50.

The sec­ond count re­lates to Dr Tha­hane’s al­leged mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion to Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank that fuel sup­plied to Temo-‘moho, to­tal­ing M6 076 502.68, was payable by the bank to the sup­pli­ers, En­gen Le­sotho Limited.

How­ever, the state ar­gues M4.8 mil­lion had al­ready been paid out to Temo-‘moho by in­di­vid­ual farm­ers and Dr Tha­hane was aware of this.

for­mer en­ergy, me­te­o­rol­ogy and Wa­ter Af­fairs min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane

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