The corruption trial of former Natural Resources Minister, Monyane Moleleki, would begin on 26 August this year as scheduled despite the continued uncertainty over his health, the prosecution has said.
Acting Chief Justice Tšeliso Monapathi announced the trial date last month after the case had been postponed on several occasions due to Mr Moleleki’s ill-health.
The former minister faces three counts of contravening the Mines and Minerals Act, alongside businessmen Mohapi Khofu, Tšepo Khofu, Kereke Moteletsane and Moeketsi Motšoane, who are all directors of Mafeteng-based firm, Refela Holdings.
According to the charges, the businessmen allegedly failed to comply with the said legislation between 1-29 May 2012 when acquiring licences to prospect for diamonds in Ha Ramatšeliso and Mosaqane in the Qacha’s Nek district.
Mr Moleleki, who was the minister of natural resources at the time the offense was allegedly committed, stands accused of abusing his office to facilitate the issuance of the said permits.
However, the case has failed to take-off in the High Court on a number of occasions due to Mr Moleleki’s poor health. Mr Moleleki, who is deputy leader of Lesotho’s main opposition political party, the Democratic Congress (DC), is said to suffer from cancer and his doctor has since indicated he is not fit to stand trial due to the advanced state of the illness.
Mr Moleleki’s lawyer, Advocate Salemane Phafane (King’s Counsel), on Tuesday this week filed an updated report of his client’s medical condition before the High Court, which indicated he was scheduled to undergo further tests on 28 and 29 July.
However, according to the lawyers prosecuting the case, Advocate Siphosihle Mdlhuli and Attorney Khotso Nthontho, this new development would not affect the schedule of the trial.
The lawyers could, however, not give further details of the report citing it contained confidential information of the patient and also that it was not presented in an open court.
Attorney Nthontho told the Lesotho Times: “We are coming back on 15 August to settle other pending issues pertaining to this matter, before the actual hearing of the case, which is scheduled to run for two consecutive weeks beginning 26 August. These dates will not be affected by this new development.”
“The defence has also complained that we have not yet complied with their request for further particulars of the case, which we will address before the trial begins.”
According to Attorney Nthontho, the defence team, which comprises Advocate Phafane (KC) and Advocate Zwelakhe Mda (KC) has requested documents the prosecution intends to put before the court as evidence against Mr Moleleki and his co-accused.
“This is what we will be settling when we meet on 15 August before the actual trial begins,” Attorney Nthontho said.
Meanwhile, Advocate Mdlhuli has also reiterated the fact that Mr Moleleki still has to undergo medical tests does not change the hearing dates of the case.
“The hearing dates are still the same. The case will start from 26 August and the fact that he has to under some tests does not change anything concerning this scheduled,” Advocate Mdlhuli said.