Diamonds stolen

MASERU — About 1 000 rough diamond carats are alleged to have been stolen from Kolo Kimberlite project in Mafeteng, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

The alleged theft came to light after Thabex Limited, a listed South Africa exploration and development firm which claims to have invested more than M10 million in the Kolo diamond mine, reported the matter to the police’s diamond squad on June 14.

The stones have an estimated value of M14 million.

They disappeared when the mine was still under Angel Diamonds, a Lesotho registered company. Thabex owns 70 percent of Angel Diamonds.

The other shareholders are Peter Mosebo, a Mosotho businessman and Cornelius Engelbretch, a South African entrepreneur.

Mosebo and Engelbretch are currently embroiled in a court battle with Thabex over shareholding.

In a statement to investors on December 1, Thabex announced that it had reported to the Lesotho police that 1 000 rough diamond carats had been stolen from Kolo Mine.

Thabex said they reported that the diamonds had disappeared at a time when Mosebo and Engelbretch where in charge of Angel Diamonds.

The company said the charges are against Mosebo and Engelbretch.

“Charges were instituted regarding the disappearance of the rough diamond stock with the Lesotho Royal Mounted Police, Diamond Squad headquarters in Maseru on 14 June 2011,” Thabex said in the statement.

Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha however said he could not confirm the case because an officer in charge of the diamond squad was not in the office.

The Lesotho Times understands that Thabex has made the diamond theft allegations in at least three public statements this month.

Those statements were approved by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It also made the allegations in its financial statement for the financial year ended February 28, 2011.

Thabex alleges that the diamonds disappeared when it was having a shareholding dispute with Mosebo and Engelbretch.

The dispute was over how much Thabex should own in Angel Diamonds.

After the diamonds disappeared Mosebo then applied for Angel Diamonds’ liquidation.

At that time Angel Diamonds was still operating under a prospecting licence while waiting for a mining licence from the Lesotho government.

Thabex claims that it successfully blocked Mosebo’s moves but its board later discovered that on the same day he applied for Angel Diamonds’ liquidation he registered another company called Reskol Diamond Mining (Pty) Ltd.

Reskol was then given a mining lease by the commissioner of mines despite the allegations of diamond theft hanging over Mosebo’s head.

Angered by this sudden turn of events Thabex said it wrote to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on August 12 querying why Reskol had been awarded the licence when there was a case of diamond theft pending against its directors.

It said the licence had effectively officialised the theft of the diamonds.

Thabex wanted to have a meeting with Mosisili. The company however said Mosisili is yet to confirm the date of the requested meeting.

Efforts to get comment from the prime minister’s office were not successful yesterday.

According to one of the statements, Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki is aware of Thabex’s allegations and the requested meeting with the prime minister.

The commissioner of mines is also aware of the issue.

Mosebo and Engelbretch could not be reached for comment.

Moleleki’s mobile phone was not available at the time of going to press.

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