THE Selibe Mochoboroane-led opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) has distanced itself from two of its members who have been implicated in the case in which the government was allegedly defrauded of M17 million.
MEC’s treasurer Makhetha Thaele (39) and the youth league’s secretary general Abiele Moletsane (30) are accused of fraud together with ’Mamothibeli Piti (34), Police Constable (PC) Mokone Bereng (35), Joel Lerotholi (30), and 41-year-old Thabiso Mapetla.
The charge sheet states that the six accused are “charged with contravening Section 57 (1) (2) (a) of the Penal Code Act No. 6 of 2010 read with Section 109 in that upon or about October 2018, the accused did, acting with common purpose, unlawfully stole money belonging to the Lesotho government to the tune of M17 million by transferring it electronically to their different bank accounts”.
PC Bereng, Mr Moletsane and Ms Piti first appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ on 12 November this year with Mr Lerotholi joining them on 16 November. Messrs Thaele and Mapetla first appeared before the court last Monday.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli recently told the Sunday Express that the accused allegedly defrauded the government of M17 million and some motor dealers of amounts in the region of over a million maloti through fraudulent purchases.
“The accused defrauded the sub-accountancy department (of the Ministry of Finance) in Leribe of an estimated M17 million by hacking into its system,” Supt Mopeli said, adding, “they then went on to purchase some vehicles at various car dealers where they paid through electronic transfers”.
“They always paid money exceeding the actual price of their purchase and then later claimed they had erred and demanded to rectify their mistake and demanded the excess in cash in the process,” Sup Mopeli said.
The transactions are said to have occurred in October this year and the suspects allegedly deposited the ill-gotten funds into three different accounts which they had opened under false identities in South Africa.
Supt Mopeli said that “Mr Thaele is said to have received M354 000 or more from the fraudulent transactions and bought himself a Golf4 car”.
In a statement issued on behalf of the party by its secretary general Advocate Pheea Ntšihlele on 18 November this year, the MEC said it was aware that their party officials were implicated in the fraud case.
The MEC however, said if at all the party officials had committed the alleged offences, they would have done so in their individual capacities and they would have to answer to the courts.
“We would like to inform all our members and the public that the allegations levelled against Messrs Moletsane and Thaele have nothing to do with us as a party. These are their own individual activities and they shall have to answer for them as thus.
“We therefore wish to distance the MEC from their individual activities. We plead that police be given a chance to conduct their duties and those implicated be taken to the courts of law to answer for the charges,” the MEC states, adding that the party shall take internal measures against those implicated “if necessary, once investigations have been completed”.