Cor­rupt chief scoffs at sen­tence

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

Chief Napo Ma­jara of Seka­ma­neng on Mon­day avoided incarceration af­ter pay­ing a M10 000 fine for so­lic­it­ing a bribe in ex­change for ser­vices he was sup­posed to pro­vide his sub­jects free of charge.

Jus­tice ‘ Mase­foro Ma­hase had sen­tenced the chief to eight years in pri­son for the of­fence, but also of­fered him an op­tion to pay the fine to avoid serv­ing time.

How­ever, af­ter in­di­cat­ing his in­ten­tion to pay the fine, Chief Ma­jara took ex­cep­tion to a po­lice of­fi­cer’s in­sis­tence that she would ac­com­pany him to the bank to col­lect the money.

The chief started shout­ing at the of­fi­cer as they emerged from the Ac­counts Of­fice at the High Court, in­sist­ing he would go alone to the bank and with­draw the bal­ance he needed to re­alise the re­quired M10 000.

But de­spite the the­atrics, which drew laugh­ter from on­look­ers, the con­victed chief was told in no un­cer­tain terms by the stern po­lice­woman that he had to fol­low her or­ders.

Mean­while, im­pos­ing sen­tence on the chief, Jus­tice Ma­hase said: “This sen­tence is passed af­ter con­sid­er­ing a num­ber of fac­tors that in­clude per­sonal cir­cum­stances ad­duced on be­half of the ac­cused in mit­i­ga­tion.

“The court has also con­sid­ered ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances sub­mit­ted by the crown against the ac­cused. And the ap­pro­pri­ate sen­tence is a pay­ment of M10 000, fail­ing which the ac­cused must go to pri­son for eight years.”

How­ever, af­ter the judge had passed the sen­tence and gone to her cham­bers, Chief Ma­jara could be heard say­ing loudly as he walked out of the court: “This is noth­ing. M10 000 is just a coin to me.”

Jus­tice Ma­hase on 31 March 2015 found the chief guilty of re­ceiv­ing a M500 bribe from Bokoro Tau in 2004 for ef­fect­ing change of landown­er­ship.

Mr Tau had wanted the piece of land to of­fi­cially be­long to his brother, din­gaan, but the chief de­mand- ed cash to fa­cil­i­tate the change of own­er­ship. Mr Tau had in­formed the po­lice about the de­mand, lead­ing to a trap and the chief’s ar­rest as he re­ceived the marked notes.

But the judge had de­ferred sen­tenc­ing to 17 April, and later 27 April, hence Mon­day’s pun­ish­ment.

Jus­tice Ma­hase said in con­vict­ing the chief: “The ac­cused has no de­fence at all ex­cept his bare de­nial.

“He never chal­lenged ev­i­dence that he met the Tau broth­ers be­fore 2004, and de­manded bribes be­fore he could

serve them.

“As i have al­ready said, the ac­cused was asked by the Tau broth­ers to stop de­mand­ing pay­ment from them as that ser­vice was sup­posed to be free.

“But the ac­cused told them that oth­ers, in­clud­ing high-rank­ing peo­ple in so­ci­ety, were pay­ing for such ser­vices as noth­ing is free in life.”

Jus­tice Ma­hase also ob­served Chief Ma­jara was once suspended from his du­ties due to some mal­prac­tices.

“The ac­cused is the gazette chief of Seka­ma­neng.

“He as­sumed his du­ties as such in Septem­ber 1983, and was de­moted dur­ing the mil­i­tary regime.

He was re­in­stated on an un­spec­i­fied date.

“The ac­cused, in his ca­pac­ity as the gazette chief of Seka­ma­neng, is a public of­fi­cer who draws his salary from the Trea­sury Depart­ment.

“As a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple, it is wrong for a public of­fi­cial to de­mand bribes.

“It is against the rea­sons I stated above that the ac­cused is found guilty as charged.”

Jus­tice ‘Mase­foro Ma­hase

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