A group of 10 people including three former Principal Secretaries (PSs), who face corruption charges in connection with tenders awarded for the restoration of public roads damaged by heavy rains was on Tuesday this week released on an M20 000 bail each by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.
March 16, 2023
4 min read
Three PSs in court for corruption
Former Trade and Industry PS, Nonkululeko Zaly
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The three PSs include former trade and industry PS Nonkululeko Zaly, along with her foreign affairs and local government counterparts, Thabo Motoko and Lefu Manyokole respectively.
They are charged together with the former CEO of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), ’Makhotso Mahosi.
The four are also charged along with directors of three private companies, including Baba Ketso of Maru-a-Pula Mining and Construction Pty (Ltd), Setofolo Ramaru of Gee. M. Construction and Pule Thoahlane of Botselo Pty (Ltd).
They are further charged together with three individuals, namely Mooka Namoli, Chipo Hulela and Keketso Makoko.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) had earlier raided the accused persons’ properties for their alleged involvement in a road repair scandal costing over M100 million.
This, after wider investigations into payments made by the DMA to several companies that had won tenders to repair roads that were damaged by heavy rains between 2021 and 2022.
The investigations began as soon as the companies started receiving payments that were delayed due to financial glitches the government encountered.
It is alleged that between January 2021 and December 2022, Zaly, Mahosi, Ramarou, Manyokole, and Namoli committed fraud by making false representation to the Ministry of Local Government and the DMA office that Kypros Engineering Pty Ltd was engaged to offer consulting services to the government.
The accused being public officers at the Ministry of Local Government, DMA, and Cabinet respectively abused the positions of their respective offices, by soliciting and accepting bribes from companies engaged in the rehabilitation of road infrastructure.
This was in spite of the fact that they knew that the company was engaged unilaterally without compliance with due procurement procedure by Zaly, who was at the time, the PS of Local Government where tenders were awarded.
As a result, the government suffered prejudice of M39 959 159.30.
It is further alleged that between February 2021 and December 2022, Zaly, Mahosi, Ramaru, Manyokole, and Namoli committed the crime of corruption by soliciting and accepting bribes from companies engaged in the rehabilitation of road infrastructure.
In particular, Zaly is alleged to have accepted an M325 000 bribe sometime in November 2021 from Kypros Engineering Pty Ltd.
It is alleged that Namoli committed fraud on April 2021 by making a false representation to the Ministry of Local Government and the DMA verifying that the quantity of work as appears on completion certificates was work done at the site yet at the time the work had not been completed.
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Botselo Pty Ltd is charged with money laundering in that on November 7, 2022, the company acquired money amounting to M2 666 398.06 from the government and transferred M2 600 000 to GEE.M Construction Pty Ltd account held at Post Bank Lesotho.
This, after the owner, Thoahlane, transferred property with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of that property.
Ketso and Kypros Engineering Pty Ltd are also accused of committing money laundering in that on December 20, 2021, they acquired money from the government amounting to M7 086 240 and transferred M250 000 into Du Preez Liebetru & Co account held at Standard Lesotho Bank in favour of Zaly, regarding the sale of immovable property situated in Hlotse, Leribe.
The two allegedly acquired M7 086 240 and transferred M549 050, M150 000, and M83 892.50 to Maru-a-Pula Mining and Construction account held at Standard Lesotho Bank. The aim of the transfer was to conceal the illicit origin of the money.
Motoko has since shown that he intends to oppose the charges leveled against him.
The matter has been remanded to March 23 for a hearing.