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Manyokole trial postponed

Mohalenyane Phakela

SUSPENDED Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General, Mahlomola Manyokole, will have to wait longer to know when his money laundering and corruption trial will begin.

This after the Maseru Magistrates Court on Thursday postponed to unknown date a hearing to set the trial date.

The trial date was supposed to have been set on Thursday and Advocate Manyokole showed up before the court opened its doors at 9am.

An hour later, there was still no indication of when the proceedings would begin. The court’s information officer, Nthabiseng Mohale, later told the Sunday Express that the hearing had been postponed to an unknown date because the case file was not available due to the absence of a court official who keeps the files.

“The hearing had to be postponed because the case file is locked up in one of the offices and the officer in charge of the office is not available,” Ms Mohale said, adding, “the trial date cannot be set without the case file”.

Adv Manyokole was arrested and charged with money laundering, corruption and abuse of power on 18 February 2021.

According to the charge sheet, “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…he did unlawfully and intentionally perform an act with the intention of defeating or interfering with the course of justice 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.”

When he was arrested on 18 February, Adv Manyokole was brought before 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.

It remains to be seen when the trial will eventually begin. Adv Manyokole is currently on suspension pending the outcome of the trial.

He is also facing a tough battle to keep his job. This after Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro last December appointed a tribunal to probe his fitness to remain in office following accusations of incompetence which were levelled against him by Justice and Law Minister Professor Nqosa Mahao.

Adv Manyokole’s application to reverse the premier’s appointment of the tribunal was dismissed on 18 February 2021 by Justice Moroke Mokhesi.

The tribunal is headed by Retired Justice Teboho Moiloa, who Adv Manyokole had sought to have disqualified on the grounds that he could be biased against him because he was being investigated by the DCEO for money laundering and corruption. Other members of the three-person tribunal are High Court Judge Polo Banyane and retired judge Semapo Peete.

Adv Manyokole has since petitioned the Court of Appeal to overturn Justice Mokhesi’s judgement upholding the appointment of the tribunal.

The appeal will only be heard when the Court of Appeal holds its first sitting of the year from 12 to 30 April 2021.

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