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Deputy police chief’s fate hangs in balance

Tefo Tefo


MASERU — Deputy Police Commissioner Motsotuoa Ntaote’s fate is hanging in the balance after the prosecution on Thursday pushed for his conviction on fraud charges before the Court of Appeal.

Ntaote, 45, was charged with two counts of fraud in the High Court for allegedly inflating per diem claims for two official trips he undertook with other police officers to South Africa in 2005 and 2006.

The prosecution said Ntaote solicited full per diems when he knew he was only entitled to quarter per diems.

High Court judge Gabriel Mofolo last June cleared Ntaote of the two fraud charges on the grounds that there was conspiracy within the police service to destroy Ntaote’s career.

The prosecution appealed against Justice Mofolo’s judgment saying the judge had erred in his judgment because he ignored evidence tendered by state witnesses against Ntaote during the trial.

Advocate Robert Griffiths, representing the prosecution, on Thursday told the Court of Appeal that the prosecution had proved in the High Court that Ntaote was responsible for altering the documents which were presented to the treasury department to pay full per diems.

He said Ntaote should be convicted but the case ought to be referred back to the High Court for sentencing.

“I think the best way would be to refer it to the High Court for sentencing,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said Ntaote influenced the police accounts section staff to make alterations on the documents so that he could get full per diems.

He said Police Commissioner ‘Malejaka Letooane and other senior Home Affairs officials had authorised a quarter of the full per diem but Ntaote falsely misrepresented to the treasury that a full per diem had been granted.

However, Ntaote’s lawyer Advocate Zwelakhe Mda said the High Court had correctly ruled in favour of his client.

Mda said the fact that the prosecution did not call Letooane to testify in court to say that she had authorised a quarter rate not full per diem rate confirmed allegations that there was conspiracy against Ntaote.

“We are saying she (Letooane) could have come and said ‘No! I did not authorise a full per diem’ but she did not come because she thought the truth would come out,” Mda said.

He said Letooane could have seen an opportunity in the case to get rid of Ntaote because she had already alleged that Ntaote wanted to topple her.

Mda also said there was no evidence during the trial that Ntaote directed the police accounts staff to make alterations on the documents for him to get the full per diem rate.

“There should have been evidence that when the officers presented documents to the treasury they were acting as the accused’s agents,” Mda said.

The Court of Appeal will deliver judgment on April 23.

Ntaote is still holding his position as police deputy commissioner after he won a court case in which he wanted Letooane to reinstate him after he was cleared of the fraud charges last June.

He approached the court after Letooane had refused to reinstate him saying his case had not yet been finalised because it was still pending in the Court of Appeal.

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