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SA judge to handle MKM

Bongiwe Zihlangu

MASERU — Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla has appointed a South African judge to preside over the MKM case. 

The case, which has been stuck in the High Court for three years with four judges recusing themselves, has now been set for hearing on November 22.

Barring any new development, the case will be finalised on November 26.

This was revealed by Justice Minister Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa during the question and answer session in parliament on Thursday.

Mahase-Moiloa was responding to Sello Maphalla, the deputy leader of the Lesotho Workers Party, who had asked what the ministry was doing to deal with the MKM case.

Mahase-Moiloa said South Africa had agreed to provide a Free State judge she only identified as Justice Musi.

Although the minister could not reveal the judge’s full name in parliament, the Sunday Express can reveal that his name is Justice Cagney John Musi who was appointed to the Free State bench in 2005.

Before his appointment to the bench, Justice Musi was a regional magistrate from 1997.

He was a magistrate from 1992 to 1997.

Before that he had practised as a prosecutor from 1986.

Mahase-Moiloa said his appointment was made possible under a memorandum of understanding that Lesotho has with South Africa to request judges “in the event that we have exhausted all means available in Lesotho”.

“We have succeeded in that from 22-26 November one Judge Musi from the Free State will be presiding over the case,” she said.

The Central Bank of Lesotho has been pushing to liquidate MKM since it closed the company in November 2007 for operating banking and insurance businesses without licences.

The central bank says MKM was running a Ponzi scheme designed to fleece investors.

An audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a South African accounting firm, discovered that of the M400 million invested by more than 300 000 people in MKM only M100 million could be accounted for.

MKM has challenged these figures and insists that its obligations are much less.

But the case has remained stuck in the courts.

Part of the reason is that the case has had a battery of applications that have delayed the process.

But the main reason is because High Court judges have been pulling out of the case.

Six judges have dealt with the case since it started in 2007.

The first one to handle it was Justice Semapo Peete who later pulled out of the case.

The case was brought before Justice Nthomeng Majara who gave an order and the case was moved to another judge.

Justice Kelello Guni was the third judge to deal with the case.

The fourth judge was Justice Tseliso Monaphathi who quit because one of the MKM directors had lent him the company’s car when his official Mercedes Benz broke down.

He later told the Sunday Express, which had broken the story, that he had known the director for more than 20 years and at one time MKM had given his son a part-time job.

Justice Lisebo Chaka-Mokhooane, who took over from Justice Monaphathi, quit the case in June after alleging that someone had tried to influence her.

She said she had received a nocturnal visit from an emissary of MKM boss Simon Thebe-ea-Khale.

Justice David Lyons, an Australian judge seconded to Lesotho by the Commonwealth, who was seen as a neutral judge in the long-running case, also threw in the towel late June.

He is understood to have said he feared a backlash if he ruled that MKM should be liquidated.

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