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Manyokole arrested, charged with money laundering, corruption

Mohalenyane Phakela

DIRECTORATE of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General, Mahlomola Manyokole, was on Thursday arrested and charged with money laundering, corruption and abuse of power.

He appeared before Maseru Magistrate Teboho Thoso who released him on free bail the same day.

Magistrate Thoso also ordered Adv Manyokole to reappear before him on 4 March 2021 for the setting of the trial date.

Adv Manyokole’s arrest and court appearance followed the issuance of a warrant for his arrest on Wednesday by Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Murenzi.

This after Adv Manyokole had allegedly failed to honour acting DCEO boss Adv Sefako Seema’s order for him to report to the DCEO office to answer money laundering allegations levelled against him.

Adv Manyokole was suspended on 7 January 2021 by Prime Minister Majoro on allegations of incompetence. He was suspended on the advice of Justice and Law Minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao.

The suspension triggered a bitter High Court battle between the two sides wherein Adv Manyokole alleged that Dr Majoro and Prof Mahao were “crusaders of corruption” who had only suspended him because he was investigating them and other high-profile people for corruption.

Adv Manyokole’s application to reverse the premier’s appointment of a tribunal to decide on his fitness to remain in office was dismissed on Thursday by High Court Judge Moroke Mokhesi.

The DCEO boss is represented by Adv Tekane Maqakachane in the criminal case. The case is prosecuted by DCEO prosecutor Adv Mamongonyo Baasi and Adv Malerato Ntsatsi, a prosecutor from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Clad in a black tracksuit, matching black tee-shirt and a cap, Adv Manyokole appeared calm and politely greeted journalists and officials before taking his place in the dock.

It however, appears there is no love lost between him and Adv Baasi because the two did not exchange pleasantries. The two have a tense relationship stemming from Adv Manyokole’s December 2020 decision to suspend Adv Baasi for alleged corruption.

It is not clear when Adv Baasi resumed duties but he is back at work and ironically prosecuting her boss who had suspended her for what he said was gross misconduct in connection with the acquittal of former Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) boss, Tšeliso ‘Mokela and six former LCA board members.

The six are Lefa Mokotjo, Monare Thulo, Paseka Khetsi, Bokang Lethunya, ‘Majankie Fako and ‘Mamofuta Kale.

The accused were charged with defrauding the LCA of about M785 279 during the 2017/18 financial year.

This after the former LCA board members allegedly illegally approved a bonus of M785 279 for Mr ‘Mokela.

And on Thursday, Adv Manyokole’s charge sheet which was prepared by Adv Baasi and read by Magistrate Thoso states that, “Mahlomola Moses Manyokole (41) … is charged with contravening section 87(2) of the Penal Code Act in that upon or about 7 and 8 January 2021…did unlawfully and intentionally perform an act with the intention of defeating or interfering with the course of justice to by taking exhibits in the form of monies to the tune of M83 000 in uncompleted cases and causing the said monies to be deposited into the DCEO Criminal Asset Recovery Fund held at FNB-Lesotho without due process or the disposal order of court.

“The accused did acquire, possess, use property, convert and transfer with the aim of concealing and disguising the illicit origin or true nature of the property… in the amount of M83 000 … and causing the same property to be deposited into DCEO Asset Recovery Fund, knowing or having reason to suspect that such property is derived directly or indirectly from acts or omission which constitutes an offence in Lesotho or outside. The accused did thereby commit the offence of money laundering.

“The accused did unlawfully and intentionally abuse the functions or position of his office in the performance or functions for the purpose of obtaining an undue advantage for himself…. the accused did thereby commit the offence of corruption.”

Adv Manyokole was subsequently granted free bail on condition that he does not interfere with crown witnesses, attend remands and stand trial to finality.

This after the defence and prosecution agreed that he should be released on free bail.

In granting him bail, Magistrate Thoso said, “Mr Manyokole is a public figure by virtue of being the director general of DCEO and some may feel I should slap him with a M10 000 bail and surety.

“However, the two concerned parties (defence and prosecution) have agreed to the aforementioned terms (free bail). Therefore, I do not find it necessary to impose any other bail conditions.

“Mr Manyokole you are hereby released on your own recognisance. You should not interfere with crown witnesses, attend remands and stand trial to finality,” Magistrate Thoso said.

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