Date set for Thahane trial

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Tefo Tefo

Former Minister of Energy ,Metology & Water Affairs Thim Thahane(3)High Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, on Monday said former Energy minister, Timothy Thahane’s corruption trial would commence on 9 April 2015.

Dr Thahane is charged alongside suspended Finance ministry Principal Secretary Mosito Khethisa, and Civa Innovations director, Mokhethi Moshoeshoe. The three men are accused of allegedly defrauding government of M19 million in 2010. Dr Thahane was Finance minister at the time.

However, after the prosecution and defence lawyers had met for a pre-trial conference on Monday, Justice Makara then announced the trial date.

Mr Khethisa—who was suspended in April last year after being charged in a different fraud case—and Mr Moshoeshoe, first appeared in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court in October 2013, with Dr Thahane later joining the trial as he was not present on the initial appearance date.

According to the charge sheet, Thahane and his co-accused are facing two counts—one of fraud and the other bribery.

The fraud charge reads: “On or about 29 April 2010 or thereafter in the district of Maseru, the accused, sharing a common purpose, unlawfully, deliberately and with the intent to defraud, represented to the government of Lesotho or the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning that an agreement entered into between the Ministry and Accused Three (Civa Innovations Management {Proprietary} Limited) on 29 April 2010 in respect of Wool & Mohair Product Development, complied with the Public Procurement Regulations of 2007.

“This was done with the intention that the ministry should act upon the said misrepresentation to its prejudice and to the prejudice of the government of Lesotho, by paying to the accused three sums totaling M8 379 070.50; M9 772 000.00 and M915 596.85 and did thus commit the crime of fraud.”

On bribery, the charge sheet reads: “On a date unknown to the Crown but before 29 April 2010, Accused Three (the company) and Four (company director Moshoeshoe) corruptly offered a consideration to Accused One (Thahane) and Two (Khethisa), who corruptly agreed to accept such consideration in return for action in their official capacities as public officials—Accused One in his capacity as Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Accused Two as Principal Secretary.

“Such action by Accused One and Two was facilitating a contract between the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, on the one hand, and Accused Three on the other, on 29 April 2010, in respect of Wool &d Mohair Product Development. Such consideration was in the form of a share in the proceeds of funds received by Accused Three in respect of such contract.”

Meanwhile, Dr Thahane is also facing a fraud charge regarding government’s Block Farming Project.

In the case, he is charged with allegedly defrauding the Lesotho government of over M24 million seven years ago when he was still Finance and Development Planning minister.

According to the charge sheet, on 6 June 2008, Dr Thahane allegedly misrepresented to Standard Lesotho Bank that then Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili and then Agriculture minister, Ralechate ‘Mokose, had endorsed the Block Farming project for vegetable farmers at Temo-‘Moho, Mpharane Agricultural Association of Leribe, resulting in government losing M18 092 587.50.

The second count relates to Dr Thahane’s alleged misrepresentation to Standard Lesotho Bank that fuel supplied to Temo-‘Moho, totaling M6 076 502.68, was payable by the Bank.

However, the state argues M4.8million had already been paid out to Temo-‘Moho by individual farmers and Dr Thahane was aware of this.

Dr Thahane made his first appearance in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on 4 November 2014 and was allowed to go home after paying M10 000 bail and M100 000 surety.

He was also ordered to report to Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) investigators every last Friday of the month, as part of the bail conditions.

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