PROCEEDINGS at the recent multi-stakeholder dialogue were disrupted by senior opposition leaders who were demanding the release of suspended Chief Justice, Nthomeng Majara’s secretary, ’Makakaretso Bereng.
The national dialogue, which was attended by leaders of political parties in government and in the opposition as well as other stakeholders, is expected to come up with an agenda for the constitutional, security sector, governance, judicial and media reforms that were recommended in 2016 by SADC.
The dialogue began on Monday and ended on Wednesday.
Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) spokesperson Teboho Sekata his deputy, Apesi Rats’ele and Democratic Congress (DC) spokesperson Serialong Qoo briefly disrupted the Wednesday proceedings to demand the release of Ms Bereng.
Ms Bereng was arrested that same day and subsequently appeared court on fraud charges.
Messrs Sekata, Rats’ele and Qoo argued that the arrest of Justice Majara did not augur well for the dialogue which had to be held in a conducive environment free of such arrests.
This was despite the fact that Ms Bereng’s arrest was in connection with a criminal case of fraud and rather than a politically motivated charge.
Proceedings only resumed at the dialogue after the trio were calmed down by LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing who took the microphone and stated that Ms Bereng’s case was already being “dealt with by the relevant authorities”.
“The matter is already being looked into and I kindly plead that we give the relevant authorities the chance to work on it and not disrupt the reforms,” Mr Metsing said. His plea was heeded by his colleagues and the dialogue continued thereafter.
Ms Bereng is the wife of police Assistant Superintendent Mahetlane Bereng who fled the country in August after he had been questioned over the leak of a government gazette which announced the appointment of South African judge Justice Yvonne Mokgoro as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal.
The leaked gazette was used by three prominent lawyers, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and Qhalehang Letsika as the basis for their successful February 2018 lawsuit against the appointment of Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane as the Acting Court of Appeal President.
Acting police spokesperson Senior Inspector Rantoane Motsoetla recently told the Sunday Express that Ms Bereng was charged with perjury after lying under oath that she had a joint bank account with her husband.
Ms Bereng allegedly lied under oath when she made an affidavit before a magistrate.
Her husband had allegedly told her that his bank card was confiscated by the police when they interrogated him in August and the affidavit would have helped secure its release so that she could access funds deposited in the account. The police however, deny confiscating the card.
“Ms Bereng was arrested on Wednesday and charged with perjury,” Sr Inspector Motsoetla said.
“She also shortly appeared before court on the same day and she was released on free bail. She is charged with contravening Section 86 of the Penal Code Act of 2010 in that she lied under oath to a magistrate by saying that she had a joint bank account with her husband and the bank card was confiscated by police when her husband was called in for questioning in August.
“After her husband had been to us for questioning regarding a leaked official document, we later learnt that he fled the country and he had told her that we confiscated some of his stuff including the card in question but this was not true.
“It is not true that police confiscated her husband’s card as she alleged and investigations also yielded that she didn’t hold an account with the same bank as her husband.”
Ms Bereng will appear again in court on 28 December this year.
Her husband, Assistant Superintendent Bereng fled to South Africa after he and one Mohau Lebajoa had been called in for questioning over the leaking of a government gazette which announced the appointment of South African judge Justice Yvonne Mokgoro as acting President of the Court of Appeal.
The leaked gazette was used by lawyers, Advocates Mda, Mohau and Attorney Letsika as the basis for their successful March 2018 lawsuit against the appointment of Justice Hlajoane as the acting Court of Appeal President.
The trio argued that the appointment of Justice Hlajoane violated the constitution as she was appointed when the government had already appointed Justice Mokgoro to the same position on 27 February this year.