Passports bribe suspects still suspended
MASERU — The Minister of Home Affairs, Joang Molapo, says his ministry tightened security measures to curb corruption in the ministry, especially in the passport services department.
Molapo said besides securing their system, they now have people employed to ensure that there is no corruption in the department.
The minister said this after two public officers working at the passport services office in Mohale’s Hoek were suspended for allegedly receiving bribes.
“We were part of an operation that exposed the officers who were said to have received bribes from members of the public seeking to speed up the process of issuing passports,” Molapo said.
The minister said he personally took part in the operation that included police and the District Administrator that busted the passport officers’ syndicate.
Molapo said the investigating team used marked bank notes that were given to the corrupt officers to catch them in the act of corruptly speeding the process of issuing passports in exchange for bribes.
To trap the passport officers, the investigating team used an undercover agent who communicated with the passports officers soliciting a deal to speed up issuance of his passport during office hours.
According to Molapo, the officers made it difficult for investigators to catch them red-handed as they collected the bribe away the office.
However, he said the ministry ended up suspending them on the grounds that they communicated with the undercover agent and promised to issue him passports if he paid them and the delegation also found the marked bank notes on them.
The two passports officers, when confronted about the deal denied the claims saying the money found on them was given to them by someone who owed them.
The two passport officers are still on suspension pending investigations that will lead to a disciplinary hearing.
“We did not get evidence to charge them criminally as we did not catch them with the marked notes during office hours,” he said.
Molapo said following investigations against the officers who were suspected of corruption allegedly committed in November last year, the ministry realised that it is only one person whom the corrupt officers were using to collect money from passport seekers who could be prosecuted.
He said there is no strong evidence against the suspended officers on which the ministry can prosecute them, but indicated that the ministry will still take such officers to an internal disciplinary hearing.