Tha­hane trial post­poned again

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

High Court judge Jus­tice Molefi Makara on Tues­day granted the pros­e­cu­tion’s ap­pli­ca­ca­tion to post­pone a fraud case against for­mer­mer En­ergy, Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Wa­ter Af­fairs Minin­is­ter, Ti­mothy Tha­hane and suspended Fi­nance Min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Mos­i­toito Khethisa by three weeks.

Dr Tha­hane and Mr Khethisa are chargedged along­side the direc­tor of Civa In­no­va­tion­sns (Pro­pri­etary) Limited com­pany, Mokhethithi Moshoeshoe, for al­legedly de­fraud­ing gov­vern­ment of M19 mil­lion in 2010.

The pros­e­cu­tion last month asked thehe High Court to resched­ule the trial be­caus­ese it wanted to bring more ev­i­dence per­tain­ning to the case, from South Africa.and whenen the ap­pli­ca­tion was ex­pected to be ar­gued on Tues­day last week, the case was resched­uleded for Thurs­day, to al­low the pros­e­cu­tion time me to sub­mit its heads-of-ar­gu­ment.

De­fence lawyers, Ad­vo­cates Du­misa Buhle Nt­se­beza and Christo Van Schalk­wyk, how­ever, ar­gued the heads-of-ar­gu­ment should not be ac­cepted be­cause they were “ir­reg­u­lar”, which Jus­tice Makara agreed with in his rul­ing on Mon­day this week. The court then heard a lengthy ar­gu­ment from both the pros­e­cu­tion, through Ad­vo­cate Guido Pen­zhorn and the de­fence, about whether the case should be post­pone­ment or not.

In his ad­dress, Ad­vo­cate Pen­zhorn told the court the post­pone­ment was to al­low the pros­e­cu­tion ac­cess to cer­tain doc­u­ments in South Africa.the doc­u­ments, he added, in­cluded a re­port by au­dit firm Price­wa­ter­house­coop­ers that the pros­e­cu­tion in­tends to use to ad­vance its case against Dr Tha­hane and his co-ac­cused.

How­ever, the de­fense ar­gued fur­ther post­pone­ment would amount to a vi­o­la­tion of the ac­cused’s right to a fair trial.

The team also ar­gued if the ap­pli­ca­tion to post­pone the case was re­jected, the pros­e­cu­tion had the dis­cre­tion to with­draw the charges if it was not ready to pro­ceed with the trial.

“Be­sides, the pros­e­cu­tion has the right to re­in­sti­tute the charges if it so wishes,” Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza sub­mit­ted.

How­ever, Jus­tice Makara granted the ap­pli­ca­tion and post­poned the case for three weeks, with­out stat­ing the ex­act date when trial would re­sume.

In his rul­ing, Jus­tice Makara said he granted the ap­pli­ca­tion af­ter con­sid­er­ing all sub­mis­sions made by the lawyers on both sides.

“In reach­ing the con­clu­sion, the court took into con­sid­er­a­tion the vi­o­la­tion of the rights of the ac­cused.

“In other words, the court should bal­ance the rights of the ac­cused with the in­ter­ests of jus­tice.

“The court finds that there is need for the crown to be given an op­por­tu­nity to pre­pare it­self.

“The post­pone­ment is al­lowed but should not be be­yond three weeks, on a strong note that there must not be any other post­pone­ment,” he or­dered.

Dur­ing the ar­gu­ment, Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza saids he op­posed the post­pone­ment be­cause heh wanted to dis­pel “the per­cep­tion cre­ated within so­ci­ety that the ac­cused were re­spon­si­ble for the de­lay”.

Mean­while, charges against Dr Tha­hane and his co-ac­cused re­volve around a con­tract awarded to Civa In­no­va­tions by gov­ern­ment on 29 April 2010 for a wool and mo­hair project, al­legedly in con­tra­ven­tion of the count try’s pro­cure­ment reg­u­la­tions.

Mr Khethisa, who was suspended in April l last year af­ter be­ing charged in a dif­fer­ent f fraud case, and Mr Moshoeshoe, first ap­peared in the Mag­is­trate’s Court in Oc­to­ber 2013. Dr Tha­hane later joined the case as he w was not present when the case was first rem manded on the first day of the trial.

Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, Dr Tha­hane and his co-ac­cused are fac­ing two counts — fraud and bribery.

The fraud charge reads: “On or about the 29 April 2010 or there­after in the dis­trict of Maseru, the ac­cused, shar­ing a com­mon pur­pose, un­law­fully, de­lib­er­ately and with the in­tent to de­fraud, rep­re­sented to the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho or the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Devel­op­ment Plan­ning that an agree­ment en­tered into be­tween the Min­istry and Ac­cused Three (Civa In­no­va­tions Man­age­ment {Pro­pri­etary} Limited) on 29 April 2010 in re­spect of Wool & Mo­hair Prod­uct Devel­op­ment, com­plied with Public Pro­cure­ment Reg­u­la­tions of 2007.

This was done with the in­ten­tion that the min­istry should act upon the said mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion to its prej­u­dice and to the prej­u­dice of the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho, by pay­ing to the ac­cused three sums to­tal­ing M8 379 070.50; M9 772 000.00 and M915 596.85 and did thus com­mit the crime of fraud.”

On bribery, the charge sheet reads: “On a date un­known to the Crown but be­fore 29 April 2010, Ac­cused Three (the com­pany) and Four (com­pany direc­tor Mr Moshoeshoe) cor­ruptly of­fered a con­sid­er­a­tion to Ac­cused One (Tha­hane) and Two (Khethisa), who cor­ruptly agreed to ac­cept such con­sid­er­a­tion in re­turn for ac­tion in their of­fi­cial ca­pac­i­ties as pub-

Alic of­fi­cials — Ac­cused One in his ca­pac­ity as Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Devel­op­ment Plan­ning and Ac­cused Two as Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary.

“Such ac­tion by Ac­cused One and Two was fa­cil­i­tat­ing a con­tract be­tween the gov­ern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho, on the one hand, and Ac­cused Three on the other, on 29 April 2010, in re­spect of Wool and Mo­hair Prod­uct Devel­op­ment. Such con­sid­er­a­tion was in the form of a share in the pro­ceeds of funds re­ceived by Ac­cused Three in re­spect of such con­tract.”

Mean­while, Dr Tha­hane also stands trial for a dif­fer­ent case in which he is fac­ing a charge of fraud.in this case, he is charged with al­legedly de­fraud­ing the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment of over M24 mil­lion in re­spect of the Block Farm­ing Project, when he was still the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance and Devel­op­ment Plan­ning seven years ago be­fore mov­ing to the Min­istry of En­ergy in 2012. Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, on 6 June 2008, Dr Tha­hane 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 at 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 M4.8mil­lion had al­ready been paid out to Temo-‘moho by in­di­vid­ual farm­ers and Dr Tha­hane was aware of this.

Dr Tha­hane made his first ap­pear­ance in the Maseru Mag­is­trate’s Court on Novem­ber 4 2013 and was al­lowed to go home af­ter pay­ing M10 000 bail and M100 000 surety.he was also or­dered to re­port to Di­rec­torate On Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences in­ves­ti­ga­tors ev­ery last Fri­day of the month, as part of his bail con­di­tions.

Ti­mothy Tha­hane.

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