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LMPS defends Molibeli, Tholo Energy 

by Lesotho Times
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Moorosi Tsiane 

FORMER Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, acted within his office’s powers when he secured a High Court order to attach the property and monies belonging to 15 people implicated in the alleged theft of M40 million from Tholo Energy company. 

The police had swooped on the popular restaurant and car wash – Shelly Brown – and on other properties of the joint’s owners to attach assets over the fraud case. 

Shelly Brown proprietors, ‘Malerato Khutlisi, and her husband, Tumisang Thahanyane, are now fighting to regain their attached properties. They have rejected the fraud claims, instead going to court to allege that the M40 million they are alleged to have stolen was in fact money “illicitly’ acquired by Tholo Energy owner, Thabiso Moroahae and represents “proceeds of crime”. 

They accuse Mr Moroahae of running an elaborate fraud and theft scheme which was never probed by the police because of his alleged links to former Compol Molibeli. 

But the police argue otherwise.   

Detective Senior Inspector Mathaane Lenea has deposed to an affidavit claiming the police acted within the scope of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (amendment) Act (MLPCA) 2016 when they stormed the Ha Thamae situated Shelly Brown and other places on 9 February 2024 to seize properties belonging to the people who allegedly stole M40 million from Tholo Energy. 

Her affidavit was filed on behalf of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) in their opposition to a High Court application by Shelly Brown co-owner, Ms Khutlisi, in which she wants the rescission of a preservation order on their properties. 

The police had secured the order from Justice Polo Banyane on 8 February 2024 to attach her assets over her alleged participation in the M40 million theft. 

Ms Khutlisi and her husband, Mr Thahanyane, were in January this year charged by the Maseru Magistrates Court for defrauding the energy company of M40 million. Mr Thahanyane was Tholo Energy’s chief financial officer when the money allegedly went missing between 2018 and 2023. He was accused of stealing the money by depositing part of it into his wife, Ms Khutlisi’s accounts. 

The couple was charged alongside Victor Makhetha, Malerato Khutlisi, Lisebo Sepheakhang, Siene Ratsiu, Siene Supplies, Lehlohonolo Teba, Ntaso Khanyapa, Moratuoa Hlongoa, Talenta Masoatsa, Thabana Thabana, Lineo Khotseng, Tloaelo Khutlisi, Ntsane Nyai and Lereko Matlotlo. 

Mr Thahanyane and his 14 alleged acquaintances appeared before Resident Magistrate Motlatsi Kolisang on 26 January 2024 who conferred them with the fraud, theft, and money laundering charges. 

Mr Thahanyane was further charged with misappropriation of funds and abuse of power. 

Magistrate Kolisang released him on M15 000 bail and M70 000 surety, while his co-accused were released on M10 000 bail and M50 000 surety each. 

They were charged alongside three companies; Vicmo Industrial Supply, City Metal (Pty) Ltd and Earthly Market, which were allegedly used to swindle the monies from Tholo Energy. 

But Ms Khutlisi came out guns blazing on 4 March 2024, alleging the charges against her and her husband were a “smokescreen” to hide the true origins of the money they are alleged to have stolen. 

She claimed the money was stolen from Letṧeng Diamonds by Tholo Energy owner, Mr Moroahae, when his company was supplying fuel to the mine. She also accused Mr Molibeli of usurping the powers of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) by “hijacking” the case in order to protect Mr Moroahae from possible prosecution by the anti-graft body. 

In fact, she accuses Mr Moroahae of personally supervising the actions of the police when they swooped on her and others because of the former’s links to Mr Molibeli. 

However, the police have rubbished her allegations, claiming Mr Molibeli was empowered by law to secure an attachment order, thus, the police officers acted within the scope of their work.   

“The Commissioner of Police (Holomo) on behalf of the LMPS, which is a competent authority, was acting within his powers to have instructed the office of Attorney General to bring this preservation order in terms of section 88 of MLPCA dealing with civil forfeiture. Therefore, the point of usurpation of powers of Director-General DCEO by the Commissioner of Police is devoid of merits and misconceived,” D/Snr Insp Lenea says in her affidavit. 

Ms Khutlisi has also demanded that Letṧeng Diamonds be joined to the proceedings because the money was “stolen” by Mr Moroahae from that company. 

However, D/Snr Insp Lenea shot down the allegations, saying Mr Moroahae’s business was a legitimate one of selling fuel, which was the source of his income. 

“The assertion that the forensic investigation should have been done which show how Tholo Energy acquired alleged misappropriated funds is intended to mislead and confuse the court as the issue of where Tholo Energy derived its cash is clear in that Tholo Energy is a company that is selling and transporting fuel. 

“The source of Tholo Energy funds are his lawful businesses of establishing garages, selling fuels and transporting fuels amongst others. 

“Shelly Brown Car Wash and Refreshments was financed wholly through the money that was coming from Tholo Energy. The explanation came from the applicant (Khutlisi) herself who is a cohabiting partner to Mt Tumisang Thahanyane upon be questioned (sic)…… 

“It has been over emphasized that the Commissioner of Police was acting within his powers and not usurping the functions of the DCEO, and no need to repeat that over and over.”   

Mr Molibeli relinquished his duties as the Police Commissioner on 23 February 2024 when the Acting Commissioner, Mahlape Morai, took over. 

Dr Morai and Mr Moroahae also filed supporting affidavits to that of D/Snr Insp Lenea. 

While it had been expected that Justice Banyane would hear Ms Khutlisi’s rescission application, the matter was this week allocated another judge, Justice ‘Mafelile Ralebese, who declined urgency on Tuesday afternoon. Ms Khutlisi’s application against the attachment order will thus follow the normal queue of other cases pending before the High Court. 

But that will likely work in her favour as she has re-opened her Shelly Brown outlet against spirited efforts to stop her from the police. She re-opened the outlet for trading after being advised by her lawyers that the attachment order did not cover the business’s actual operations.  


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