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‘Govt employees recruited on political grounds’

Mohalenyane Phakela

A LAWYER representing the fraud-accused financial controller in the Ministry of Water Affairs on Friday alleged that the human resource department has little or no say in the recruitment of staff at the ministry. The lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, said the staff recruitment is conducted by senior management on the basis of political affiliation.

Adv Molati made the claims before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court in the case in which ‘Mampoi Makhetha stands accused of forgery and misrepresentation in the purported recruitment of her younger sister, Karabelo Makoloane as an office assistant in the Water Affairs Ministry in 2016.

The government is alleged to have been prejudiced of M19 654 which was paid as wages to Ms Makoloane as a result of her purported recruitment into ministry between September and December 2016.

Ms Makhetha is jointly accused with her other sister, Thlolohelo Makoloane, who is employed in the Water Affairs Ministry as an accountant.

According to the charge sheet, the three women defrauded the ministry of M19 654 with which was paid to Ms Karabelo whom they misrepresented to the Treasury Department as an office assistant in the Water Affairs Ministry.

Ms Makhetha and the Makoloanes stand accused of having “acted together without lawful authority to produce a document purporting to be a Lesotho government contract in the ministry (of Water Affairs) thus committing the offence of forgery of official material”.

But on Friday, Adv Molati dismissed the fraud accusations against his clients, saying the charges had been brought up to punish Ms Makhetha because she allegedly refused to be an accomplice in an alleged M90 million fraud scam within the ministry.

Adv Molati said this while cross-examining one of the prosecution witnesses, Mokoto Mothae, who testified before Magistrate Monyake Hlabanyane on Friday.

Mr Mothae, who was then the Water Affairs Ministry’s assistant human resource manager, had told the court that all the ministry’s employees’ contracts were handled by his office but he knew nothing about Ms Karabelo’s purported recruitment.

“My duty was to draw up contracts and ensure that all new recruits at the water ministry’s headquarters signed contracts. My office kept the original contracts and gave the employees copies of their contracts.

“However, we were surprised in 2016 when we came across the name of Karabelo Makoloane on our payroll. Mr Mosisili (Rethabile) who was then the deputy principal secretary ordered that we find out who Karabelo was.

“We got her employment contract from ‘Me ‘Mampoi which had a signature of Karabelo together with those of Tlali Hlasa who was then the Rural Water Supply acting director as well as Thabang Roibaki who was the human resource in the same department. However, Mr Roibaki denied ever signing such a document and said that he suspected his signature was scanned. The other suspicious thing about the contract was that it had three different employment dates and further had different fonts,” Mr Mothae said.

However, Adv Molati challenged Mr Mothae’s claims that his (human resource) department handled all staff recruitments, saying that several employees were actually hired by senior management on the basis of their political affiliation or relationships to those in management.

Adv Molati said his client, Ms Makhetha was treated unfairly because she had refused to commit to the M90 million fraud at the ministry. He however, did not provide further details of the alleged M90 million fraud.

“I put it to you that there are several employees in the Ministry of Water who have been employed because of their political affiliation or blood relationships and this was done without involving your human resource office.

“Mr (Khomoatsana) Tau (who was then the principal secretary in the Water Affairs ministry) hired Khauhelo Motai from the Mahobong Constituency where he (Mr Tau) had stood for (2015 snap national) elections but lost. T?eliso Mochaba who was hired at that time is the relative of Advocate Lebohang Mochaba who is the current principal secretary. These two people together with many others were hired without involvement of your office but those who hired them have never faced any charges.

“Furthermore, Ms Makhetha and Thlolohelo never signed Karabelo’s contract but instead it was signed by Mr Hlasa and Mr Roibaki. The two are not part of the accused persons because Mr Hlasa committed to the M90 million fraud which Ms Makhetha declined hence she has been hauled before this court,” Adv Molati said.

Magistrate Hlabanyane postponed to 10 and 11 December this year.


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