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M2,8 million LHDA fraudster dies in prison

’Marafaele Mohloboli

STEPHEN Dlamini, a South African national, who was handed a 62 year jail term in 2011 for defrauding the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) of M2, 8 million, has died in prison.

Dlamini (62) was found dead in the Maseru Maximum Prison on Saturday and the cause of his death is yet to be established.

Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Spokesperson, Superintendent Neo Mopeli, confirmed Dlamini’s death in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.

“On Saturday morning we discovered that Ntate Dlamini had died and we immediately called in the police to do their investigations to help us identify the cause of death,” Supt Mopeli said.

“We are working with the Dlamini’s family to prepare for his burial.”

Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, was not reachable on his mobile phone for comment.

Current Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase sentenced Dlamini to 62 years in jail in October 2011 for defrauding the LHDA of M2, 8 million as well as attempting to defeat the ends of justice by bribing two female magistrates ‘Mampai Lesupi and Itumeleng Letsika.

Dlamini was however, supposed to serve only 15 years behind bars because his six sentences for fraud and defeating the ends of justice were supposed to run concurrently.

The High Court found Dlamini guilty of defrauding the LHDA of M2, 8 million acting in concert with his then lover, Peggy Thakeli, and later using magistrates Lesupi and Letsika, to escape from prison.

The court heard that Dlamini instructed Thakeli, who was an accountant at the LHDA, to transfer M2, 4 million from the authority’s ABSA account in South Africa to a First National Bank account owned by one Soleman Sameer in 2004.

The court found that at the instruction of Dlamini, Thakeli contacted a former Telecom Lesotho employee, Seqao Phenya, to install a telephone line at Dlamini’s house to facilitate the fraudulent activities.

The telephone line was intended to divert LHDA calls to Dlamini’s house and the fax was programmed in a way that it would appear to be an LHDA fax.

The same fax was used to give payment instructions to ABSA Bank for the withdrawal of the M2,4 million.

According to evidence by the prosecution, Thakeli’s fraudulent transfers were made under false pretence that Sameer was a contractor who had provided services to the LHDA.

Thakeli was also found guilty on four counts of fraud in which she and Dlamini forged quotations to make it look like the LHDA was the one buying construction materials from a fictitious hardware called Iketsetseng.

Dlamini was arrested in 2005 but managed to bribe the two magistrates to tamper with his court records to make it appear that his fraud charges had been withdrawn.

He was released and fled to England in 2006 but was arrested two years later when he came back to Maseru.

The two magistrates were each sentenced to a year in jail after the High Court found them guilty of defeating the ends of justice.

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Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: editor@lestimes.co.ls Advertising: marketing@lestimes.co.ls Telephone: +266 2231 5356

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