MASERU — The government has fired ’Marapelang Raphuthing, the Finance and Administration director in the Prime Minister’s Office, for corruption.
The Sunday Express can reveal that Raphuthing was fired on Thursday for 12 charges related to serious corruption in Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s office.
Raphuthing is understood to have received her dismissal letter from the Cabinet’s Principal Secretary for Economic Affairs, Moliehi Matabane, on Friday.
This was after she rejected a chance to address the disciplinary panel in July to mitigate her case.
“After a careful consideration of the disciplinary hearing in which you refused to give an address in mitigation (sic),” said Matabane in her letter to Raphuthing dated August 25.
“It was decided that your services in the public service be terminated by way of dismissal.”
In her position Raphuthing worked closely with Kubuthu Makhakhe, the Principal Secretary for Administration in the Prime Minister’s office, who was also found guilty of corruption in May after he approved payments for a company owned by his wife.
Instead of firing Makhakhe the disciplinary panel recommended that he be transferred to another position in the civil service that does not deal with procurement.
Makhakhe has since appealed the decision saying he wants to clear his name. Raphuthing and Makhakhe were suspended in February together with two other senior officials in Mosisili’s office.
The other two are Thato Masiloane, the Deputy Principal Secretary in the Cabinet Office and ‘Manthabeleng Shai, the acting of Head of Procurement.
They were suspended after an investigation by Nexus Forensic Services, an audit firm hired by government, unearthed rampant corruption in the prime minister’s office.
Like the other three, Raphuthing’s charges centred on allegations that she had approved the procurement of goods and services from a company with which she had links.
The charges were that Raphuthing had brought the civil service into disrepute, failed to lead by example and exercise her powers impartially.
She was also accused of failing to “serve the people of Lesotho with respect and promote their welfare and lawful interests”.
Four of her 12 charges were related to a transaction she approved on July 13, 2009. She allegedly approved the procurement of goods and services from a company called Success Enterprise (Pty) Ltd which is “owned and/or managed by her son. It is alleged that she did this “for no other reason other than the consideration of family ties”.
Success Enterprise was paid M5 000.
Government regulations state that she should have recused herself from the transaction because her son’s company was the beneficiary.
Four other charges related to another transaction on July 13, 2009 that also involved Success Enterprise.
This time Raphuthing allegedly authorised the procurement of goods and services worth M92 847 from the company.
But perhaps the most embarrassing charges are those that relate to how Raphuthing used her government issued laptop.
Raphuthing is alleged to have used her laptop to access “various pornographic sites”.
It is alleged that she used the laptop to access the sites between 2007 and 2010.
She is also alleged to have accessed these sites while at work “and/or at places unknown” to her supervisor.
Raphuthing is the same official who made serious allegations of corruption against Government Secretary, Tlohang Sekhamane, during Makhakhe’s hearing. Makhakhe had called her as a witness but under cross-examination Raphuthing said she was aware that there were corrupt activities in the prime minister’s office.
She then fingered Sekhamane as one of the senior officials who had instructed her to process questionable transactions.
Sekhamane opened a can of worms when he asked Raphuthing if she did “not remember any mis-procurement that happened in the Honourable Prime Minister’s office”.
Raphuthing said she recalled one company called Tšoeu Construction which was said to have worked at the State House before she was appointed as director.
“I found that it was to be paid but I could not see how it got that job and what really was it that it was doing,” Raphuthing said.
“I reported this to my superiors and I was referred to the GS (Government Secretary) where I was told that the Honourable Prime Minister had instructed that that person be paid immediately and who did I think I was,” she said.
Raphuthing said about M500 000 was paid to that company.
She said the second procurement malpractice involved a car that was hired for the Prime Minister’s office which was paid through Avis fleet management company.
“I only saw it moving around here with blue plate numbers (AU606) and I did not know what it was doing. I didn’t even know the owner,” she said.
“I then enquired how it was procured as it had not been budgeted for and I was told that the Prime Minister had so instructed.”
The third procurement malfeasance involved a generator which is used at the electricity power station at the Prime Minister’s offices, Qhobosheaneng Complex.
“A lot of money, about M300 000, was used to repair it by a company called Tee-Tee and the correct procurement procedures were seemingly not followed,” Raphuthing said.
She said the problems with procurement affairs of the office of the Prime Minister are said to be orders.
“Apart from that, it is matters involving hotels where you are just ordered to do this and that,” she said.
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