Angry prosecutor quits Moleleki trial

FORMER Lesotho’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Siphosihle Mdhluli
FORMER Lesotho’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Siphosihle Mdhluli


Tefo Tefo

Advocate Siphosihle Mdhluli yesterday withdrew from prosecuting a case in which the Minister of Police, Monyane Moleleki, is facing corruption charges before the High Court.

Mr Moleleki is being charged with contravening provisions of the country’s mining regulations alongside Refela Holdings directors Mohapi Khofu, Tšepo Khofu, Kereke Moteletsane and Moeketsi Motšoane.

The Refela bosses allegedly failed to comply with the Mines and Minerals Act 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 permits.

However, the case has failed to proceed on numerous occasions, leading to Advocate Mdhluli’s frustration.

The South African told senior High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, that he was withdrawing from the case “with a heavy heart” and had communicated his decision to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), King’s Counsel Leaba Thetsane.

“I am withdrawing from this case and I want everything I’m going to say to be put on record because it is not a secret.

“An agreement has been made between me and the DPP that I should withdraw from the case. I think what I have to do now is make a proper handover to counsel that should take over from me.

“But as your Lordship can see, such counsel is not before the court now,” said Advocate Mdhluli, who is a former DPP.

He continued: “We were supposed to appear before this court yesterday (Tuesday) and set a date for the hearing.

“But I understand other people appeared before you and set a date in August for mention.”

But before Advocate Mdhluli could proceed, Justice Monaphathi interjected and said the date was not set before him but the Judges’ Clerk.

However, Advocate Mdhluli said he still wanted it known that the decision to postpone the case to August had nothing to do with him.

“I wish to intimate further that as an officer of this court, I was ready to proceed with this case more than six months ago.

“On many, occasions when the case was supposed to proceed, the First Accused (Mr Moleleki) was not feeling well and again, on another occasion, the Second Accused (Mohapi Khofu), was also ill,” he said.

“I would want to make this clear because I have my integrity to protect. To me, it seems the manner in which this case has been dealt with is a fuzz; it’s a joke.

“Now all the accused persons are not before the court—something which I’ve never experienced for a long time I have practiced (law) in this country.

“I was the Director of Public Prosecutions here for about 12 years, but I never saw such a thing whereby even counsel are all not before the court.

“My Lord, I’ve done my level best to ensure that the case proceeds; I am in no way to blame.

“I can see the direction this case is taking and I don’t want to be caught in the middle. Whatever happens after now, I’m not part of it. There has been great resistance from some quarters that this case doesn’t proceed. Even now, I can smell something sinister. I smell a rat,” Advocate Mdhluli submitted.

Accepting Advocate Mdhluli’s withdrawal from the case, Justice Monaphathi could only say: “I accept that you withdraw from the case, but history will be the best judge.”

The judge then postponed the case to 11 August for the trial date to be set.

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