Former PS charged with fraud

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Tefo Tefo

FORMER Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Social Development, Selloane Qhobela on Monday appeared before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court charged with fraud as the government continues its drive to root out corruption.

The four parties that have formed the present government – All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) – have accused the previous coalition government of corruption ahead of 3 June, 2017 snap National Assembly elections.

Among other issues, the four parties accused the previous regime of abuse of state funds – an issue that caused some members of the Democratic Congress (DC), that included its then deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, to break away to form the AD.

As part of the government’s move to bring those involved in corruption activities from the previous government, former principal secretary for the Ministry of Social Development was charged with defrauding the government M67,000 sometime in March this year.

Her arrest followed investigations by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) – an agency whose prime mandate is to root out corruption and economic offences within the public services.

Qhobela (53), it is alleged, misrepresented that a trip she took together with other two officers in her ministry was not sponsored, while in actual fact she knew the trip was fully sponsored.

According to the charge sheet she violated provisions of the Penal Code Act.

Investigations revealed that between February and March 2017, Qhobela deliberately made to the Financial Controller of the Ministry of Social Development, a false representation or concealed from her a fact which in the circumstances she had a duty to reveal.

“That an official trip which she was to attend together with two other directors in Washington DC in the United States of America was not sponsored, while in actual fact she was fully aware that the trip was fully sponsored, with the intention that the financial controller should act upon the said representation to the detriment of the ministry.”

Resulting from her actions the court charged, Qhobela – who is a resident of Khukhune in the Butha-Buthe district – with theft.

The court heard that in March this year the former principal secretary unlawfully took M67,000 belonging to or in the lawful possession of the Ministry of Social Development with the intention of permanently depriving the Government of Lesotho of the money.

She was released on a M1000 bail and also ordered to pay a surety of M10,000.

 

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