Home Affairs PS under fire

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Pascalinah Kabi

MINISTRY of Home Affairs Principal Secretary ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie has come under fire for allegedly masterminding a deal between two local construction companies that has now gone sour.

Ms Lemphane-Letsie was this week quizzed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about her role in the partnership between Legends Construction and Bafani Construction Company earlier this year. According to the PAC, Ms Lemphane-Letsie allegedly advised representatives of Legends Construction to approach Bafani Construction for funding after winning a tender to supply park homes to the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this year.

The two companies subsequently entered into a deal that saw Bafani Construction taking control of a 51 percent stake in Legends Construction.

The deal has now gone sour after a M7 million payment from the Ministry of Home Affairs was allegedly mysteriously transferred from Legends’ bank account into that of Bafani Construction.

Ms Lemphane-Letsie however, refuted the allegations and said this was not the first time that Legends has levelled them against her.

PAC chairperson Selibe Mochoboroane said it was curious that after being advised to approach Bafani Construction for funding, Legends Construction representatives discovered that Bafani had already ordered park homes. Mr Mochoboroane said Bafani Construction is owned by controversial Chinese businessman Yan Xie, popularly referred to as John.

“Legends won the tender and you referred the company’s representatives to Bafani – which is owned by Mr John – for John to be the financier,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

“And then when the Legends representatives went to John as you had told them to, they surprisingly discovered that even the park homes had already been ordered,” he added.

He said that the two companies subsequently came with a deal that saw Bafani Construction taking control of a 51 percent stake in Legends Construction.

All hell broke loose the M7 million payment transferred into Legends Construction’s bank account was mysteriously transferred to Bafani’s account. An ongoing legal battle ensued soon thereafter.

“The Legend Construction representatives people rightly claimed that after being contracted, money was deposited into their account and immediately afterwards, it was transferred into John’s (Bafani’s) account. The same people say they got to know John through you (Ms Lemphane-Letsie),” Mr Mochoboroane said.

“If the Legends representatives were to come here and say you mediated between them and Bafani, would they be making up stories about you? After Bafani took money from Legends, did Legends representative come to you to ask that you mediate between them and John?”

Mr Mochoboroane said they would summon the bank involved to enlighten the committee as to how Bafani accessed Legends’ bank account and how the M7 million payment from the Ministry of Home Affairs ended up in Bafani’s bank account.

“In the same breadth, the Legends representatives will help us. This matter is in the public domain. A case has been filed in court and we will get to the bottom of it,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

“There is a part of this issue that we will unearth. We will issue the summons, the bank will assist us and we will summon everyone involved in this matter to come and assist us to get to the bottom of it,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

In her defence, Ms Lemphane-Letsie said her ministry did not know of any existing relationship between Legends and Bafani prior to the awarding of the contract. She said they only came to know that there was a relationship through the court papers.

“We got to learn from the court papers that Bafani owns 51 percent shares in Legends. It is not true that I mediated between Legends and Bafani,” Ms Lemphane-Letsie said.

“They (Legends) have said that (I mediated the partnership) in the court papers and I have refuted the allegations. They say that I told them to go and meet with Bafani, which is not true. Unless their story is more powerful than mine, that is not the case.

“…It is not true that I told them to go to ntate John after they won the tender…I didn’t facilitate the partnership,” Ms Lemphane-Letsie said.

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