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A travesty of justice

PONZI schemer Simon Thebe-ea-khale must count himself among the luckiest criminals in the world.

After stealing the dreams and hopes of 300 000 mostly poor people, he still roams the streets with very peaceful freedom.

Yet fraudsters of his ilk are right where they belong: behind bars.

Incarcerated stockbroker Bernard Madoff, 72, is an example Thebe-ea-khale would be familiar with.

The American will not even outlive his 150-year jail sentence for defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars through his Ponzi scheme.

Such is the seriousness with which thieving and nefarious activities are treated elsewhere.

Yet here in Lesotho we are entertaining a travesty of justice.

Thebe-ea-khale is seen rather as a victim not the suspected fraudster that he should be.

One would have thought there was prima facie evidence for a criminal case against the MKM founder.

The High Court and Court of Appeal pointed to that as well when they ruled the Central Bank of Lesotho had not erred in shutting down his MKM for running illegal banking and insurance businesses.

The big question now is: why hasn’t Thebe-ea-khale faced criminal charges for hoodwinking thousands of people into believing they would become rich overnight by investing in his pyramid scheme?

And his apologists, clearly not ashamed of the way their hero fleeced poor people of their hard-earned life savings, even have the cheek to ask the government to bail out the Ponzi scheme!

Now even the liquidation case against MKM has been stalling in the courts time and again since the central bank shut down the nefarious scheme in November 2007.

First we had judges recusing themselves from the case either because they felt compromised or had been approached by people linked to MKM under shadowy circumstances.

Others feared the case had been so politicised they risked their lives if they made a ruling other than what Thebe-ea-khale’s bootlickers expected.

Of course they want MKM, an illegal entity that took people’s money illegally, to have a second bite of the cherry.

They claim the beleaguered company is capable of fulfilling its make-believe obligations to a sixth of Lesotho’s 1.8 million people.

They also insist that a reputed audit firm got it all wrong when it reported MKM could not account for M300 million of the M400 million invested with the scheme.

But that’s neither here nor there.

If MKM can reimburse all its depositors the better.

What worries us is how the criminality of the whole issue is being ignored.

It does not help for the powers-that-be to behave like a cat on a hot tin roof when the crown has a very strong case against Thebe-ea-khale.

It’s not too late though for the state to do what would save the integrity of our judiciary and a government that touts fighting corruption and crime as one of its successes.

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