MASERU — A Roman Catholic nun appeared in court on Friday charged with stealing money from a school she ran seven years ago.
Cresentia Mosito is accused of stealing M52 120 from St Bernadette Primary School, a Maseru-based Roman Catholic school she ran as principal.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Mosito, who has since retired, sat coolly in the dock as the main state witness gave a damning testimony against her.
She was wearing a black-and-white head cover and a white habit (the dress worn by nuns).
She had a blanket wrapped around the waist.
Mosito did not show any emotion as the star witness, Moorosi Moshoeshoe, who worked with her at the Catholic school, chronicled how she had allegedly spirited the money away.
Moshoeshoe, who is now working at the American Embassy, was a member of the advisory committee which helped run the school.
He said apart from being the principal Mosito was also the treasurer and handled school fees and money from other income sources like the sale of school uniforms.
Those positions meant that Mosito was the chief accounting officer of the school, Moshoeshoe said.
“Hers was to collect finances for the school and bank them as soon as possible,” Moshoeshoe said.
He said problems started when Mosito failed to submit the financial report for the 2002 financial year to the school council and the advisory committee as required.
Moshoeshoe said on three occasions the accused failed to submit the financial report.
When parents started complaining the advisory committee asked Mosito to submit the report but she did not oblige, he added.
“When it was realised that the reports were not forthcoming the chairman of the advisory committee, who is the representative of the school proprietor, asked us to help the accused come up with the report,” he said.
Moshoeshoe told the court that Mosito then gave her some books from which he later discovered that money was missing.
And when he asked for more documents Mosito promised to hand them over when she returned from a funeral in Bela-Bela, Moshoeshoe alleged.
But when she returned from Bela-Bela, in Berea district, Mosito allegedly changed her story and said she was no longer willing to submit the books to Moshoeshoe because she was the one in charge of the finances of the school.
She then allegedly seized the other books from Moshoeshoe but by that time he had already managed to audit them.
Moshoeshoe told the court that his partial audit of those books showed that there was a shortfall of M52 000.
“What was peculiar was that in January 2002, M39 890.98 was not banked,” he said.
Moshoeshoe said in May, August, October and November 2002, Mosito had not deposited any money into the school’s account despite having received fees and income from the sale of uniforms.
He further alleged that when the advisory committee asked her about the money Mosito told them the school’s financial matters were none of their business.
She also allegedly told them that she had already found an auditor to audit the school’s financial books.
Moshoeshoe said some time in 2003 Mosito then submitted an audit report for 2002 but the advisory committee rejected it because it could not be authenticated.
The accused is represented by attorney Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle and the case is before magistrate Manyathela Kolobe.
The crown is planning to call more witnesses when the case resumes this week.
Mosito is yet to testify.