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Prominent lawyer, clients face charges of forgery

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — A prominent lawyer who also lectures law at the National University of Lesotho, Tekane Maqakachane, together with members of a company he represents face charges of forgery and utterance.
Maqakachane was not present in court on Thursday when his co-accused appeared before the Maseru magistrate’s court to answer charges of forging a signature of a retired politician and businessman, Moeketsi Tsatsanyane, to make their court papers appear genuine.
Maqakachane is charged together with Makalo Monare, operations manager and trustee of the troubled Lesotho Public Motor Transport Company, his son Tšekelo Monare and Kopi Mothebesoane who are also members of the company. The accused, except Maqakachane who was not in court for a remand, were granted a M500 bail each.
They were not asked to plead.
The prosecution alleges that on an unspecified date the accused connived to forge Tsatsanyane’s signature and appended it to papers they submitted to the court in a case in which they are fighting for the control of the company and an association that purports to own it, the Lesotho Bus and Taxi Operators Association.
The papers filed of court, bearing Tsatsanyane’s alleged forged signature, say the warring parties made a settlement that resulted in withdrawal of some cases as there was an agreement to work harmoniously to build their association and company.
Monare, Tšekelo Monare and Mothebesoane have also signed the settlement document with Maqakachane as a witness to the signing.
However, Tsatsanyane told the Sunday Express that the signatures are too identical that it is impossible to be that precise in signing.
He said he approached handwriting experts who confirmed that although it was his, the signature appended on the settlement document had been forged.
“I reported the matter to the fraud unit at the police headquarters,” Tsatsanyane said.
“I did so because I do not remember holding any meeting with these men where I signed for the said settlement. To make matters worse, they claim that the meeting was held at my home. Why can’t I remember such a meeting?” he said. “I compared the signature with another from a different document and realised that they were too much indistinguishable which showed that they pasted it to their document.”
The accused deny that they have committed forgery and utterance.
Monare, who is the first accused, said Tsatsanyane had agreed to the settlement and he is now feeling uncomfortable with it.
“He (Tsatsanyane) just wants ways to annul the settlement agreement so that he can have a chance to fight for the control of the company and the association,” Monare said.
“This settlement deprives him of such a chance,” he said.
Maqakachane said he did not understand why he had to be charged because he was merely a witness to an agreement and he was not party to it.
He said it was at his instigation that the two warring parties met at Tsatsanyane’s home to resolve disputes between them and they signed the agreement to work together in his presence.
Maqakachane said that was part of his duty as a lawyer.
“As a result of my mediation they came together and came up with the document which they signed in my presence,” Maqakachane said.

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