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DPP attacks DCEO boss over fleet tender claims

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, has rubbished allegations by the Directorate on Criminal and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General, Mahlomola Manyokole that she is holding onto case files of the DCEO’s investigations of alleged corruption in the procurement of the government vehicle tender.

Instead, Advocate Motinyane says she is surprised that her directive to the DCEO to prosecute high profile suspects who include the Finance Ministry’s principal secretary, Motena Tšolo, has not been implemented almost four months later.

Other suspects in the alleged fleet tender corruption case are Senqu legislator, Likeleli Tampane, businessmen Teboho Tlokotsi and Tumo Ramonaheng and one ‘Mafusi.

Last week Adv Manyokole appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where he denied allegations by suspended DCEO Chief Investigations Officer, Thabiso Thibeli, that he (Adv Manyokole) ordered his suspension to punish him for investigating some individuals who could be his (Adv Manyokole) friends for alleged corruption in the procurement of the government fleet.

Adv Manyokole also denied allegations that he sought to block any high profile cases from being prosecuted. He told PAC that he had forwarded all the case files to the office of the DPP for prosecution.

Adv Manyokole said that Adv Motinyane had particularly asked to review the fleet tender case, a claim which the latter denied when she appeared before PAC this week.

“It is not true that my office asked for the fleet tender file for review,” Adv Motinyane said.

“I do not recall the date when the said file was submitted to my office for prosecution. But I can recall that on 2 July 2019 I gave a directive to charge the suspects and the docket was sent back to the DCEO for implementation. After that there was no correspondence between our offices.”

Adv Manyokole assumed office on 8 July 2019, six days after the date Adv Motinyane says she directed the DCEO to prosecute the suspects in the alleged fleet tender corruption case.

Adv Motinyane told PAC that it was puzzling that the DCEO had still not prosecuted Ms Tšolo and others four months after she ordered them to do so.

In terms of the DCEO Act, the anti-corruption body can only prosecute cases after being directed to do so by the DPP.

Adv Motinyane said while the law did not specify the time period for the implementation of the DPP’s directive, the DCEO had an obligation to prosecute within a reasonable timeframe.

“The law is not specific about the time within which a directive for prosecution should be implemented but it should be within a reasonable time.

“The failure to implement a directive to prosecute can be seen as obstructing the ends of justice which is a criminal offence. There have been concerns that the delayed prosecution in this case was defeating the ends of justice. However, we are still expecting the DCEO to implement it,” Adv Motinyane said.

Adv Manyokole was not reachable for comment yesterday. It remains to be seen when the government fleet tender case will be prosecuted after the DPP’s revelations that she had long given the greenlight for the suspects to be prosecuted.

The tender process for the procurement of the government fleet, which was held in September 2018, failed to yield the required 341 vehicles after hundreds of applications were disqualified for failing to meet the requirements.

Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro first announced in March 2018 that cabinet had resolved to lease 1400 vehicles from Basotho who include taxi operators, disabled groups, youth, women’s groups and legislators who were not cabinet ministers.

Others who were excluded from tendering are senior government officials such as directors in the ministries, principal secretaries and deputy ministers.

The Finance ministry however, received information that some of these officials could have either sneaked in their bids or used ordinary Basotho as “fronts” when the tender bids were submitted last September.

The DCEO was then roped in to investigate these allegations and according to sources, it discovered that some desperate vehicle owners were made to pay as much as M40 000 to have their vehicles leased to government. Last week, Mr Thibeli told PAC that the DCEO’s investigations pointed to Ms Tšolo, Ms Tampane, Messrs Tlokotsi and Ramonaheng and one ‘Mafusi as the suspects in the alleged corruption in connection with the government fleet tender.

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