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Anti-corruption unit discovers police uniforms hidden in Leribe

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Caswell Tlali

MASERU – The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) has discovered stacks of police uniforms hidden in unauthorised places in Leribe, the Sunday Express can reveal.

The uniforms were taken to the DCEO offices two weeks ago, a source close to the matter said.

On Thursday, the Sunday Express saw the uniforms being reloaded into a government truck behind the DCEO offices in circumstances that sources said were unclear.

It was not clear where the uniforms were being taken to.

The Sunday Express was barred from taking pictures, with officers threatening to take legal action should any picture of the truck loading the uniform be published.

The truck was loaded and covered with the sail within 40 minutes.

A source who chose to remain anonymous said the DCEO was investigating corruption involving the purchase and misuse of police uniforms.

However, the source said investigations were at an early stage and commenting on the matter would jeopardise investigations.

Contacted for comment on Thursday, the DCEO spokesperson Litelu Ramokhoro said he was not ready to comment because the case was still too technical for discussion in the media.

“I can only talk about it next week as at that time the technicalities will have been dealt with,” Ramokhoro said.

“Talking about it now will jeopardise investigations,” he said.

The discovery of the uniforms comes barely three months after the Lesotho Times reported that police commissioner ’Malejaka Letooane was under investigation for allegedly awarding a tender to supply police uniforms to a disqualified United States company.

Letooane together with the former Home Affairs principal secretary, Lefa Mokotjo, are alleged to have caused an award of a tender for the purchase of police uniforms to a US-based company which was disqualified because it did not meet requirements.

The two have in the past denied corruptly awarding the tender to the American company.

The award was allegedly given to Ferrini USA Inc to supply the police with uniforms in 2008.

Ferrini was disqualified on the basis that it did not meet the mandatory formal requirements such as tax clearance, an operating licence and did not even submit samples to show how it would comply with the technical specifications.

Mandatory formal requirements stated in the tender notice were that suppliers were expected to establish their compliance with their tax obligations by attaching certified copies of tax clearance certificates.

During the tender opening, which took place on July 23, 2008, bidders were also checked if they were licensed traders.

They were also checked against the samples of the wanted uniform they had brought.

Ferrini had brought none of the above and it was disqualified.

Eight local companies had also tendered and had complied with all requirements.

On July 31 the tendering companies were invited to a debriefing session where they were informed that none
of them qualified because of
varying reasons.

It was also reported to the tendered companies that the procurement unit had recommended that a re-tender had to be issued and the tender panel approved the recommendation.

While they were waiting for the procurement unit to call for a re-tender they learnt that Ferrini had already been awarded the tender.

The source within the DCEO however said it was not certain whether the present discovery could be linked with the tender investigation against Letooane or not.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said the police were not aware of the discovery of the uniforms in Leribe by the DCEO.

“The police were not informed and I do not know anything about those stacks of uniform,” Masupha said.

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