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Trouble stalks Thahane

Staff Reporters

MASERU — It never rains but pours for Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs Minister Timothy Thahane.

Fresh charges of fraud and bribery have been made against Thahane by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

Thahane was former finance minister under former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s administration.

The new charges against Thahane, laid in the Maseru Magistrate Court on Thursday, come barely five months after the anti-corruption body indefinitely suspended other charges of fraud, in May.

In May the DCEO interrogated Thahane and informed him that he would be charged for fraud, conflict of interest and abuse of office in relation to the block farming scandal.

This paper understands that at the time, DCEO officers accused Thahane of having illegally benefited from the M74 million loan scheme that was supposed to help poor households boost food production.

However, at the last minute the anti-corruption body somersaulted, telling Thahane that it was suspending the charges it intended to bring against him “until further notice”.

In the recent case, the DCEO is accusing Thahane of allegedly defrauding the government of Lesotho of more than
M19 million which was paid to Civa Innovations Management (Proprietary) Limited under the pretext that the agreement between government and the company met the Procurement Regulations of 2007.

The charge sheet shows the agreement as pertaining to the awarding of a wool and mohair product development tender to Civa Innovations Management (Proprietary) Limited.

Thahane is charged together with finance ministry Principal Secretary Mosito Khethisa for allegedly defrauding and accepting bribes as share of proceeds of funds received by Civa Innovations Management (Proprietary) Limited from the government, while serving under the Mosisili administration.

Thahane and Khethisa are cited as accused number one and two respectively while Civa Innovations and Management (Proprietary) Limited and one Mokhethi Moshoeshoe are cited as accused number three and four.

They are accused of fraud and alternatively contravening section 68 (1) of the penal code Act 2010 read with section 338 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 1981.

According to the charge sheet, the accused on April 29, 2010, in Maseru, sharing a common purpose unlawfully, deliberately and with the intent to defraud, represented to the government and the ministry of finance that an agreement entered into between the ministry and Civa Innovations and Management on the same day, in respect of wool and mohair product development, complied with the public procurement regulations of 2007.

Thahane and his co-accused allegedly intended for the ministry to act upon the said misrepresentation to its prejudice.

The charge sheet stated that Thahane and Khethisa did cause the ministry and the government of Lesotho to their prejudice, “more specifically by paying to accused 3 sums totaling M8 379 070.50,
M9 772 000.00 and M915 596.85, and did thus commit the crime of fraud.”

Thahane and his co-accused are also accused of bribery in contravention of section 80 of the Penal code Act 2010

The charge sheet said Civa Innovations and Management and Moshoeshoe corruptly offered consideration to Thahane and Khethisa who agreed to accept the consideration in return for action by the minister and his PS in their official capacities as public officials.

Thahane and Khethisa were to facilitate a contract between the government and Civa Innovations and Management on April 29, 2010 in respect of Wool and Mohair products development.

“Such consideration being in the form of a share in the proceeds of funds received by Civa Innovations and management in respect of such contract,” read the charge sheet.

Khethisa and Moshoeshoe appeared before the Resident Magistrate Pita Murenzi.

However, Thahane was not present when his co-accused appeared before the court but it was announced that he would be joining in on the case as the matter proceeds.

The accused are scheduled to appear before the Maseru Magistrate court again on November 7 for remand.

They were released on condition that they each pay bail of M10 000 and a surety to the tune of M100 000 and to also report to the DCEO every Friday.

The prosecution was represented by Sefako Seema and Mamello Mafelesi while the accused were represented by Advocate Philip Loubser.

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