By Letuka Chafotsa
MASERU — A senior Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) employee was caught red-handed last Thursday accepting a bribe for services offered by the bank.
CBL Deputy Governor Mathabo Makenete told the Lesotho Times on Monday that the employee, Matšeliso Majara, was caught in the act by the police while receiving a bribe from a client.
Makenete said CBL had been receiving reports from aggrieved members of the public that some CBL staff members demanded bribes to speed up payments to government service providers.
“Because accepting a bribe is deemed improper, that gave rise to a serious concern for the bank to follow up on the allegations”, Makenete said.
Makenete added: “In our quest to address that irking problem, CBL launched an investigation into the matter together with the police which resulted in the arrest of a member of CBL staff last Thursday.”
Majara appeared before magistrate Tankiso Nthunya on Monday.
She is accused of unlawfully accepting the sum of M600 as bribe from Michael Nqetho to process the payment of one Petlane.
Majara was released on M100 bail and M5 000 surety while awaiting remand on January 28, 2014.
Majara is said to have served CBL since 1991.
Meanwhile the police spokesperson Senior Inspector Lebona Mohloboli confirmed that the culprit had been in police custody since Thursday and appeared in the magistrate’s court on Monday.
Makenete further urged members of the public to desist from paying bribes or giving gifts to any CBL staff in return for services that the bank offers.
“The bank wishes to inform the public that, as the banker to the government, it does not charge any fee for services rendered to both government and the public,” Makenete said.
While it is blameworthy for the bank staff to accept any form of payment or gift in return for rendering services to government and members of the public, Makenete said, it is equally unseemly for service providers to bribe staff members.
“It is therefore improper for the business community to make payment inducements to the bank’s staff in the hope of speeding up payment processes,” Makenete said.
CBL Director of Operations, Seabata Ntelo, in whose department the suspect works, said there are procedures to be followed before any payment can be issued.
Ntelo said, among others, there are signed documents from the National Treasury Department under the Ministry of Finance, a unique reference number which also helps in avoiding duplication of payments to one service provider and signatures of relevant authorities for release of government funds.
“It is upon a signed order from the treasury that we will then follow procedures to issue a payment to a service provider. The process takes two weeks at most,” Ntelo said.
“In actual fact our payment processes take three days, so in case of any delay it will be two weeks not more than that.”
Ntelo said relevant divisions that process payment instructions received from the government treasury execute that function on a first come, first serve basis.