MASERU — A former National Assembly clerk, Matlamukele Matete, was on Friday slapped with a 10-year jail term by the High Court after being convicted of defrauding the government of M1.4 million.
Matete was however released on M10 000 bail after his lawyer, Tšabo Motooane, successfully applied for bail pending execution.
Matete and his co-accused, ‘Matieho Khuele, were charged with fraud and corruption in the purchase of a photocopying machine from a South African company, Konica Enterprises.
According to court documents, the offence was committed between March 2005 and March 2006.
But Khuele was set free for lack of evidence after the state failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
High Court judge ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, when granting Matete bail, said: “The accused never enjoyed the money, as the crime was exposed before he could use those funds.
“The defendant attended trial without fail and showed he was remorseful of what he did.
“These should act as mitigating factors.
“The accused was also serving on a contract basis as he had retired from the service.”
But Justice Hlajoane said corruption in all its forms had to be eradicated.
“It is being perpetrated with impunity and can go unabated because in the civil service the corruption is being done by heads of departments,” the judge said.
“Those who know about it don’t speak out as they fear nothing will be done about it.
“Others sometimes fear to give evidence against their superiors.”