Judge­ment re­served in Tha­hane case

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

THE Le­sotho Court of Ap­peal on Mon­day re­served to 12 May 2017, judg­ment in the mat­ter in which the pros­e­cu­tion wants the court to over­turn last year’s High Court rul­ing that ac­quit­ted former Fi­nance min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane of fraud charges.

High Court judge, Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi, in March last year, ac­quit­ted Dr Tha­hane of fraud charges in re­la­tion to the block farm­ing project the gov­ern­ment em­barked on in 2008 when he was still the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance.

Dr Tha­hane had been charged with mis­rep­re­sent­ing to the Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank that the Prime Min­is­ter, Pakalitha Mo­sisili had en­dorsed in­clu­sion of veg­etable farm­ing for Temo ‘Moho Mpha­rane Agri­cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion in the block farm­ing project in 2008.

Ac­cord­ing to the charge sheet, Dr Tha­hane on June 6 2008 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 be­long­ing to the Temo-‘moho Mpha­rane Agri­cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion of Leribe, re­sult­ing in gov­ern­ment los­ing M18 092 587.50.

But Jus­tice Mon­aphathi freed Dr Tha­hane on the grounds that the pros­e­cu­tion had failed to pre­pare a case for Tha­hane to de­fend.

The pros­e­cu­tion sub­se­quently ap­pealed against the judg­ment.

On Mon­day, Se­nior Coun­sel (SC) Ad­vo­cate Guido Pen­zhorn urged the Court of Ap­peal to over­turn the High Court judg­ment.

He said the High Court should have not ac­quit­ted Dr Tha­hane be­cause there was ev­i­dence that he made a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the bank through the let­ter he wrote al­leg­ing Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili had en­dorsed the veg­etable project un­der the block farm­ing project.

How­ever, the Act­ing Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal Jus­tice Ain Far­lam asked Ad­vo­cate Pen­zhorn if the prime min­is­ter had not en­dorsed the project when he said he did not see why the project could not be car­ried out.

“Was the prime min­is­ter not en­dors­ing when he said, dur­ing the cross ex­am­i­na­tion; ‘I don’t re­mem­ber say­ing it, but I could have said it’,” Jus­tice Far­lam asked.

Ad­vo­cate Pen­zhorn replied by say­ing, “The prime min­is­ter said he had dis­cus­sions with the min­is­ter and he had sym­pa­thy for farm­ers, but for the min­is­ter to go to the bank and say the prime min­is­ter had en­dorsed the project was to­tally wrong”.

The court, how­ever said that dur­ing the trial be­fore the High Court, the prime min­is­ter did not deny that he had en­dorsed the project in an in­for­mal dis­cus­sion with Dr Tha­hane.

Judg­ment has been re­served to 12 May this year at the end of this Court of Ap­peal’s first ses­sion.

Dr Tha­hane is rep­re­sented by Se­nior Coun­sel Du­misa Buhle Nt­se­beza.

former fi­nance min­is­ter Ti­mothy Tha­hane

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