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BLM leader Montši arrested

. . . DCEO charges her with bribery and money laundering

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE leader of the little-known Basotho Liberation Movement (BLM), ‘Mapuleng Montši, has been arrested and charged with bribery and money laundering.

She was charged by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) for the crimes which were allegedly committed between October 2017 and April 2018 while she was employed as a credit control clerk at the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) in Maseru.

According to the charge sheet, Montši “directly or indirectly” accepted bribes for using her influence to help some people to secure jobs at the Home Affairs ministry. The charge sheet does not say how she was able to corruptly secure jobs for people in a ministry she did not work for.

She is said to have demanded a monthly fee of M1 500 as a token of appreciation from all those who had benefitted from her influence to secure jobs.

She is said to have acted in cahoots with one Motebang Motšoane.

By the time the DCEO caught wind of their alleged crimes, Montši had already accumulated M70 155 which she had saved in hers and Motšoane’s M-Pesa mobile money accounts.

On Thursday, Montši was supposed to appear at the Maseru Magistrates’ Court but did not do so opting to first attend to her political party affairs. In an interview, DCEO spokesperson ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko said she only reported to the anti-graft body much later in the day.

They then decided to lock her up and she spent the night at the nearby police headquarters holding cells pending her court appearance the following day. She was denied bail and will remain behind bars until her next appearance on 12 April 2022.

Montši formed her BLM party back in 2019. Due to the absence of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioners at the time, her party was not immediately registered.

It was finally registered in July last year following the previous year’s appointment of Mphasa Mokhochane (chairperson), Karabo Mokobocho and Tšoeu Petlane as IEC commissioners.

They replaced the previous commissioners, Mahapela Lehohla, ‘Mamosebi Pholo and Makase Nyaphisi whose contracts were not renewed by the previous Thomas Thabane-led government after their expiry on 7 January 2019.

Montši is the fourth female party leader after the Keketso Rantšo-led Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), former RCL secretary general ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie’s HOPE party and Harvest FM radio owner ‘Malichaba Lekhoaba’s United for Change (UFC).

But given her brush with the law and the charges levelled against her, she might not be able to contest this year’s general elections which are due anytime from October.

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