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SA approves Metsing’s extradition

..move clears the way for the LCD leader to be tried for corruption

’Marafaele Mohloboli

LESOTHO Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, could soon be extradited from South Africa to stand trial for corruption, the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, said yesterday.

Mr Metsing has been holed up in the neighbouring country after fleeing Lesotho last August citing an alleged plot to assassinate him.

The government has nevertheless refuted his claims, insisting that Mr Metsing fled to escape prosecution for corruption.

He is wanted in connection with some suspicious deposits which were made into his bank accounts between April 2013 and 2014. He allegedly received M328 000 and M118 000 between April 2013 and June of the same year and another deposit of M524 964 into one of his accounts which could not be accounted for.

His extradition was sought last December by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) after he ignored a call to hand himself in and answer to the corruption charges.

The DCEO spokesperson, ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko, yesterday told the Sunday Express that that they had since taken up the matter with the DPP following  Mr Metsing’s failure to return to the country to answer the charges in December 2017.

“Our investigations were completed and the matter was forwarded to the DPP but we don’t know whether or not he (Mr Metsing) will be extradited,” Ms Senoko said, adding, “But we are ready to appear in court”.

However, Adv Motinyane yesterday told this publication that their application to extradite Mr Metsing had been approved by South Africa’s Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha on the 13th of March this year.

“My office has received approval from the South Africa’s Minister of Justice to extradite Ntate Metsing.

“We received the approval on 13 March following the issuance of all extradition documents for his provisional arrest. However, it should be noted that after he has been successfully located and arrested he is entitled to apply for bail and we are not going to oppose the application,” Adv Motinyane said, adding, the extradition approval was done in terms of Section 5 of the SA Extradition Act 67 of 1962.

According to the section of the section 5 of the SA Extradition Act, “any magistrate may, irrespective of the whereabouts or suspected whereabouts of the person to be arrested, issue a warrant for the arrest of any person upon receipt of a notification from the Minister to the effect that a request for the surrender of such person to a foreign state has been received by the Minister”.

The section also states that the magistrate may also issue the warrant “upon such information of his or her being a person accused or convicted of an extraditable offence committed within the jurisdiction of a foreign state, as would in the opinion of the magistrate justify the issue of a warrant for the arrest of such person”.

Yesterday, LMPS spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said they were not aware that Mr Metsing was wanted man in Lesotho “since the case had nothing to do with Interpol (the international organisation that facilitates international police cooperation”.

He however, said, “The matter shall be dealt with by the DPP and the courts of South Africa and not the LMPS”.

Meanwhile, LCD spokesperson, Teboho Sekata, scoffed at the extradition claim, saying this was mere wish, particularly after Mr Metsing had been cleared of any wrong doing by the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Sekata also challenged the DPP to produce a copy of the extradition letter if at all it was there, saying, “The communication should be between the two ministers of Lesotho and South Africa and not between the South African Minister and the DPP”.

“The police have since confirmed that they have no case against Ntate Metsing and this is just a way to do a damage control after they had defamed him for allegedly embezzling M53million from the public coffers,” Mr Sekata said.

The spokesperson for the South Africa department of Justice, Stephan Mahlangu, said he would only to comment during the week.

“I will be able to comment by during the week. As of now I am not privy to that information,” Mr Mahlangu told this publication.

The Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Lebohang Hlaele, also said the DPP was better placed to comment on the matter as it was directly under her office.

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