FOR­MER PS FLEES

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Re­porters

THE for­mer Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS) in the Min­istry of Health, Lefu Manyokole, has fled Le­sotho, claim­ing his life is in dan­ger af­ter his home was twice be­sieged by state security agents.

Mr Manyokole, who served as PS for Health un­til the end of last year un­der the gov­ern­ment of for­mer premier Thomas Tha­bane, joins a string of other Basotho who have skipped the coun­try in re­cent weeks, say­ing they feared be­ing as­sas­si­nated.

The for­mer PS said he had de­cided to flee de­spite hav­ing suc­cess­fully in­ter­dicted the gov­ern­ment from evict­ing him from his Old Europa of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Maseru, which he first oc­cu­pied when he was ap­pointed Sta­tion Man­ager for Ul­ti­mate FM un­der the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in 2006. That court vic­tory last month and his prox­im­ity to Dr Tha­bane, could have fur­ther in­fu­ri­ated his en­e­mies who want to see his com­plete down­fall, he claimed.

Mr Manyokole said his or­deal started when he ig­nored a no­tice to va­cate his gov­ern­ment house. A group of 13 heav­ily-armed men, whom he said had claimed to be po­lice of­fi­cers from the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Unit (SOU), had sub­se­quently stormed his house and de­manded to see him but he was away. Two un- marked bakkies, he claims to have been filled with state security of­fi­cials, had vis­ited his par­ents’ home in Lekhaloa­neng, also look­ing for him.

Last week on Mon­day, he said another group of men claim­ing to be po­lice of­fi­cers had be­sieged his Maseru home for the sec­ond time. Sens­ing dan­ger, Mr Manyokole said he had started spend­ing time away from his Old Europa home, and he could not be found each time his house was be­sieged.

“The sec­ond group to visit my house for the sec­ond time com­prised of guys who are known by one of my rel­a­tives to be work­ing for the army. If as a civil­ian, the po­lice want me for any sus­pected crime, why should they bring the army?……,” asked Mr Manyokole.

The for­mer PS, who is known to be very close to Dr Tha­bane, says he feared that his prox­im­ity to the for­mer premier was the main rea­son why he was be­ing tar­geted not be­cause of any­thing he could have done in any of his pre­vi­ous jobs.

“I am not scared to face any ques­tions about any al­leged wrong­do­ing in any court of law be­cause I know I am clean. What I am scared of is the killings that have now be­come rou­tine in Le­sotho,” said Mr Manyokole.

“You have seen what has been hap­pen­ing in Le­sotho… all the mys­te­ri­ous and not so mys­te­ri­ous killings….all the abuses…. Noth­ing hap­pens and no­body in the up­per ech­e­lons of power cares about jus­tice for vic­tims…...

“Ntate Let­satsi (Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions) will sim­ply wake up and claim that your killing was the work of crim­i­nals… Life then moves on while your fam­ily suf­fers.

“I can’t af­ford that be­cause I have a young fam­ily. My last born child is only eight….

“To jus­tify their claims that the spate of killings in re­cent times are the work of crim­i­nals, I be­lieve they can even fab­ri­cate ar­rests and stage phantom court ap­pear­ances to vin­di­cate their claims.

“Many peo­ple are flee­ing be­cause they rightly fear as­sas­si­na­tion. Ev­ery­one knows that I have been in Le­sotho since they kicked me out of the gov­ern­ment. How­ever, I feel I can­not take the risk any­more in light of what I have re­cently ex­pe­ri­enced at my home.”

Mr Manyokole had gone to court de­mand­ing to be re­in­stated to his pre­vi­ous job as sta­tion man­ager at Ul­ti­mate FM un­der the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. He ar­gues in his court pa­pers that Dr Tha­bane had only sec­onded him to the Min­istry of Health. Af­ter the cur­rent coali­tion gov­ern­ment won power in the Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tions, Mr Manyokole was among the many Tha­bane-ap­pointed prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries who were fired.

Mr Manyokole (52) then asked to be re­in­stated to his old job as sta­tion man­ager at Ul­ti­mate FM ar­gu­ing his sec­ond­ment to the Min­istry of Health had lapsed with his fir­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, he said the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions could re­tire him and pay him all his ben­e­fits ex­pected by re­tire­ment at the age of 60, if they did not want him back in his old job. He claims his re­quests were re­buffed and he has since been out of em­ploy­ment.

He said he had not re­ceived any of his ben­e­fits, which were due by 31st of De­cem­ber 2015, af­ter he was fired as Health PS. In fact, fol­low­ing his fir­ing, he said he had re­ported for duty in Jan­uary 2016 at Ul­ti­mate FM but was not al­lowed to re­sume his post. He claims he was then taken aback when he was served with a no­tice to va­cate his gov­ern­ment house, be­cause he was no longer a civil ser­vant, de­spite not hav­ing any of his full ben­e­fits from his em­ploy­ment at Health or Com­mu­ni­ca­tions paid.

“As I speak to you now, they have not paid me any of my ben­e­fits af­ter they fired me as PS Health. They have re­fused to re­in­state me to my old job at Com­mu­ni­ca­tions af­ter my sec­ond­ment lapsed with the po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion to re­move me as Health PS… How do they ex­pect me to live?” asked Mr Manyokole.

But it was the storm­ing of his home by Min­istry of Pub­lic Ser­vice of­fi­cials, in the com­pany of the 13 heav­ily armed po­lice of­fi­cers claim­ing to be from the SOU, that he claims sent shivers down his spine.

“They gained ac­cess by break­ing the gate and de­manded to my rel­a­tives present that I va­cate the home forth­with while re­fus­ing to pro­vide de­tails of all their names,” he said.

It is this in­ci­dent that ini­tially prompted Mr Manyokole to rush to court for an In­ter­dict against the gov­ern­ment and won. Mr Manyokole said he could not un­der­stand why any evic­tion would re­quire such “dra­co­nian heavy-hand­ed­ness”.

His de­ci­sion comes af­ter lead­ers of the Demo­cratic Congress youth league — Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Le­tuka Chafotsa, Chair­man Lekhotla Matsaba and spokesman Maliehe Lem­pane also fled the county last week fear­ing for their lives af­ter al­leg­ing they had re­ceived threats.

This was af­ter they al­leged cor­rup­tion in the award­ing of a lu­cra­tive gov­ern­ment fleet manage­ment con­tract by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ‘Mam­phono Khaketla. Six busi­ness­men from a con­sor­tium that claims to have won the ten­der dur­ing the eval­u­a­tion but was side­lined af­ter re­fus­ing to pay a M4 mil­lion bribe also fled last week fear­ing for their lives. One of the busi­ness­men, Let­satsi Mabona, has since given graphic in­ter­views to the South African me­dia ex­plain­ing the de­tails of the al­leged at­tempts to ex­tract the bribe from his con­sor­tium.

How­ever, Dr Khaketla has since de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and has de­manded M6 mil­lion from the DC youth league lead­ers for the “defam­a­tory state­ments” the duo is­sued against her and busi­ness­man Thabo Napo.

Also in ex­ile fear­ing for their lives are all op­po­si­tion lead­ers as well as a num­ber of soldiers, in­clud­ing a very se­nior army of­fi­cer Colonel Ma­to­bakele, who fled af­ter mutiny al­le­ga­tions.

A prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary is the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of a min­istry while a min­is­ter is a po­lit­i­cal head. While prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries are civil ser­vants who should serve any gov­ern­ment of day, they are gen­er­ally treated as po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees in Le­sotho and come and go with whichever party or par­ties are in power.

Even Dr Tha­bane ap­pointed his peo­ple as PSS af­ter ini­tially form­ing gov­ern­ment in 2012, re­plac­ing most of those hired by Dr Mo­sisili.

Po­lice spokesper­son, Su­per­in­ten­dent Clif­ford Molefe, said he had no in­for­ma­tion about Mr Manyokole’s claims.

“In the first place, if the po­lice are look­ing for you to come and an­swer ques­tions be­cause they sus­pect you of any crime, and you know you are in­no­cent, why should you run away?” asked Sup Molefe rhetor­i­cally. He said he needed time to ver­ify if any in­ves­ti­ga­tions had been in­sti­tuted against Mr Manyokole.

“At the mo­ment, I am not aware whether there are any in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­sti­tuted against him by the po­lice ....or whether there could be any report made to the po­lice about his pur­ported flee­ing.”

I am not scared to face any ques­tions about any al­leged wrong­do­ing in any court of law be­cause I know I am clean. What I am scared of is the killings that have now be­come rou­tine in Le­sotho

FOR­MER Health min­istry PS Lefu manyokole.

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