Nat Molomo & Caswell Tlali
MASERU — It never rains but pours for Democratic Congress (DC) party deputy leader Monyane Moleleki. Now he is facing two charges of fraud and corruption after he allegedly diverted M15 million meant for a mining electrification project to villages in his constituency. A few months ago Moleleki faced charges of abuse of office and fraud over a mining lease he approved a few months before he left office.
Moleleki appeared before Senior Resident Magistrate ’Makampong Mokhoro on Friday together with his co-accused, the Maliba-Matšo MP Mokoto Hloaele and two directors of Daystar Electrical Construction (Pty) Ltd, Moneri Ntlama and David Pata. The four were not asked to plead. The crown says between June 14, 2011 and September 3 last year the four men “misrepresented to the Cabinet” that M15 million which they requested from the cabinet be allocated for power supply to Kao, Liqhobong and Lemphane Mines and a nearby village of Kaonyana.
The money was allegedly given to Daystar Electrical Construction, a company in which Moleleki’s nephew Ntlama is a director and has shares, after an unlawful tendering process to provide power to Ha-Ntsi, Ha-Ratau and Ha-Sekete villages in Moleleki’s Machache constituency. “At all times relevant to this charge the accused associated themselves with the actions or acts of each other in a joint unlawful enterprise or common design and thus acting in common purpose,” reads the charge sheet.
They are also accused of corruption in that Daystar was given the job despite that its directors and shareholders Ntlama and Pata “did not lawfully qualify to be contractors or service providers under the said contract or agreement”.
Moleleki is also solely accused of corruption in that in his capacity as the then Minister of Natural Resources he failed to disclose that he has interests in Daystar because his nephew is a director when he and Hloaele “authorised and ordered the granting of contract to Daystar”.
Hloaele was at the time the chief executive officer at the Lesotho Electricity Company. The crown says the cabinet had not authorised the power project for the three villages in Machache but for the Kao, Liqhobong and Lemphane mines together with the nearby village of Kaonyana. When he emerged out of court Moleleki shouted the DC’s slogan “’Nete!” to the roar of ululations of supporters as he told them to go to the party’s office at Puma House.
At the DC office Moleleki said he asked Energy Minister Timothy Thahane why he could not allow the project to continue at the three villages in his constituency because the villagers had done nothing wrong. “Even if this government holds an opinion that I have done something wrong, what have these people of Machache done to deserve this kind of treatment?” he said. Moleleki said the electrification project for the three villages was stopped in September last year, just two months after the coalition government took power from Moleleki’s DC party.
He said the coalition government is busy running after him instead of improving service delivery. This is the second time in two months that Moleleki has been charged in court accused of fraud. His fraud case in which he is charged together with three directors of Refela Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Mohapi Khofu, Tšepo Khofu, Kereke Moteletsane and Moeketsi Motšoane is pending in the High Court. Moleleki is accused of helping Refela Holdings directors to acquire a mining licence when he was still a minister.
The prosecution says between May and June last year he assisted the four men and their company to acquire a prospecting mining lease without having applied for it. The second charge is that he abused his ministerial position when he violated the provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act 2005 “for the purposes of obtaining an undue advantage for himself and/or for the” four men and their company. His co-accused, who appeared before magistrate Motebele on January 30 this year, are charged with possession of the prospecting licence despite that they “did not (apply) in writing through the commissioner (of mines) when applying for prospecting licence at Ha-Ramatšeliso and Mosaqane in the district of Qacha’s Nek.”
They are also charged with submitting to the commissioner’s office “false documents purporting that (they) held a community meeting at Ha-Ramatšeliso and Mosaqane . . . where they (intended) to apply for prospecting mining licences”.
The prosecution says they knew well that they did not hold any meetings in those places and the names of people who are alleged to have attended those community meetings were fictitious.
The four men are further charged with defrauding the government by altering a date and conditions set out in the already false document and passed it to the Ministry of Natural Resources so that they could be issued with a letter of clearance from the Director of Environment. The letter was issued on June 4, 2012 not on May 29 as the men made it to appear, according to the charge sheet.