Tha­hane cries foul

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

A LAWYER rep­re­sent­ing for­mer en­ergy Min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane, yes­ter­day claimed his client’s right to a fair hear­ing was vi­o­lated right from the start of his cor­rup­tion trial.

Se­nior Coun­sel Du­misa Buhle Nt­se­beza said this when cross-ex­am­in­ing for­mer Deputy Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary for the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Food Se­cu­rity, Lite­boho Stephen Mo­fu­bet­soana, who was tes­ti­fy­ing in a case in which Dr Tha­hane is ac­cused of de­fraud­ing the govern­ment of over M24 mil­lion. The money was for the Block Farm­ing pro­gramme govern­ment in­tro­duced in 2008 to boost com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, Dr Tha­hane on June 6 2008 al­legedly mis­rep­re­sented to Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank that 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.

Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza yes­ter­day com­plained his client’s con­sti­tu­tional right to a fair trial had been vi­o­lated.

“At the end of this case, one of the sub­mis­sions we are go­ing to make to his Lord­ship is that the right of the ac­cused to a fair trial have been vi­o­lated.

“We will sub­mit that the ac­cused, from the in­cep­tion of this trial, has not re­ceived a fair trial.

“We asked for fur­ther par­tic­u­lars (of the case) from the pros­e­cu­tion.

“It was on the 4th of March 2015 when we asked for fur­ther par­tic­u­lars in or­der to as­sist the court and the ac­cused to know the na­ture of the case to an­swer.

“The ac­cused re­quested a copy of the Block Farm­ing Pol­icy. The re­sponse we got from the crown was that they were not aware of any Block Farm­ing Pol­icy.

“This is an­other in­di­ca­tion that the

crown is mis­lead­ing the court,” he said.

In re­sponse Mr Mo­fu­bet­soana said: “I am not sure if it is for me to con­sider if the court is be­ing mis­led.

“I have tried to bring an un­der­stand­ing that when we talk about the pol­icy we re­fer to the Food Se­cu­rity Pol­icy.

“For pur­poses of im­ple­ment­ing the Food Se­cu­rity Pol­icy, we have the Na­tional Ac­tion Plan Food Se­cu­rity.”

He also said the Block Farm­ing scheme was part of the ac­tion plan.

“yes, there is no doc­u­ment that you can call a Block Farm­ing Pol­icy doc­u­ment,” he said.

But Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza ac­cused Mr Mo­fu­bet­soana of be­ing eva­sive when speak­ing about the Block Farm­ing pol­icy.

“I am go­ing to sub­mit later that you are be­ing eva­sive,” he said.

Ad­vo­cate Nt­se­beza fur­ther de­nied that Dr Tha­hane made mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank.

He said: “Nowhere in your ev­i­dence have you al­leged mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion by Dr Tha­hane to Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank or the govern­ment for the pay­ment of M18 mil­lion in re­spect of veg­etable farm­ers.

“And it is be­cause there has never been such mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Trial pro­ceeds with Mr Mo­fu­bet­soana still un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion.

The case is be­fore Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi, while Se­nior Coun­sel Guido Pen­zhorn and Ad­vo­cate Se­fako Seema pros­e­cute.

For­mer en­ergy min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.