Mh­lakaza tes­ti­fies against top cops

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

FOR­MER Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Kiz­ito Mh­lakaza yes­ter­day took the wit­ness stand in the trial of three se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers and a busi­ness­woman who are be­ing charged with bribery and an al­ter­na­tive charge of cor­rup­tion.

Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (DCP) Tumelo Moseme and As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (ACP) Dlamini Mphatšoane and Thakane Theko are fac­ing charges of bribery over a con­tract to sup­ply po­lice equip­ment worth M776 000.

The trio is jointly charged with busi­ness­woman Re­becca Makhalemele whose com­pa­nies — Linare Cloth­ing and New Vi­sion Sup­pli­ers — were the al­leged con­duits through which the al­leged crimes were com­mit­ted be­tween 2009 and 2011.

The de­fen­dants were nabbed in 2011 by the Direc­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences (DCEO) fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that lasted more than six months.

Ac­cord­ing to the main charge of bribery, the three of­fi­cers al­legedly ac­cepted bribe pay­ments in their ca­pac­i­ties as Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS) em­ploy­ees be­tween June 2009 and 2011.

The pay­ments, the charge sheet states, were al­legedly meant to en­sure the con­tract for the sup­ply of cam­ou­flage uni­forms, berets and com­bat jackets to the LMPS would be awarded to Ms Makhalemele’s busi­nesses.

In the al­ter­na­tive charge to the main count, the three of­fi­cers are charged with cor­rup­tion for al­legedly al­low­ing them­selves to be in­flu­enced by a gift or the prospect of ben­e­fit­ing by agree­ing to award the con­tracts to Ms Makhalemele and her com­pany.

Mr Mh­lakaza was se­nior to DCP Tumelo Moseme by virtue of be­ing the act­ing com­mis­sioner of po­lice at the time.

In his tes­ti­mony, Mr Mh­lakaza said he was un­aware of the sign­ing of the con­tract for the po­lice equip­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tor Yalmer Walker then asked the for­mer com­mis­sioner why he had not known about the con­tract sign­ing since it was done dur­ing his watch.

“I ought to have known, es­pe­cially be­cause there was a di­rec­tive that had just been is­sued by the Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs that the LMPS should no longer sign any con­tracts with any other in­sti­tu­tions and leave that role to prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries,” said Mr Mh­lakaza.

The di­rec­tive, he said, was com­mu­ni­cated in a man­age­ment meet­ing held be­tween of­fi­cials from the Home Af­fairs min­istry and LMPS on 2 Novem­ber 2010.

“How­ever, on 9 March 2011, DCP Moseme went on to val­i­date the con­tract know­ing fully well he was not au­tho­rised to do so.”

Mr Mh­lakaza also main­tained be­fore the DCEO ap­proached him while prob­ing the mat­ter, he had no idea there were prob­lems in the award­ing of the con­tract.

The for­mer com­mis­sioner, how­ever, con­firmed he wrote a let­ter of sup­port for the pro­cure­ment of the po­lice gear in ques­tion af­ter he was ap­proached by DCP Moseme who cited “prob­lems” he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing from the pro­cure­ment of­fice.

“The let­ter was drafted for me, but I signed it,” said Mr Mh­lakaza who also con­firmed writ­ing a re­port to the DCEO af­ter they had re­ported seiz­ing 400 cam­ou­flage com­bat jackets which were meant to re­place the blue ones worn by pri­vate se­cu­rity per­son­nel.

“I even di­rected ac­cused one ( DCP Moseme) to go and con­firm with the DCEO if in­deed that was our uni­form, and he never gave me feed­back,” he said.

“But I learnt from the DCEO of­fi­cers who were han­dling the mat­ter that he had obliged.”

Mr Mh­lakaza added from that time, DCP Moseme han­dled the is­sue with­out his in­volve­ment.

The case con­tin­ues be­fore Jus­tice Molefi Makara. Ad­vo­cates Motiea Tele (King’s Coun­sel), Qhale­hang Let­sika and Shale Shale are rep­re­sent­ing the ac­cused.

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