Manyokole part of plot to topple Majoro: DCEO officer
Mohalenyane Phakela | Pascalinah Kabi
THE director general of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Mahlomola Manyokole, is a disgruntled officer who was appointed at the behest of former First Lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, and is probably doing the latter’s bidding to try and topple the government, a senior DCEO officer has alleged.
Adv Manyokole’s allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and other senior government officials are all part of an elaborate ploy to besmirch the premier’s name and achieve the aim of ousting his government, the officer further alleges.
The officer, DCEO Principal Investigator, Tsotang Likotsi, makes the claims in his explosive answering affidavit filed in response to Adv Manyokole’s High Court application challenging his suspension and the setting up of a tribunal to inquire into his fitness to remain as DCEO boss.
Mr Likotsi alleges that Adv Manyokole had openly told him and others of his dislike for the current regime, adding he is prepared to take the stand and be cross-examined to back up his claims.
In his application, Adv Manyokole accuses Mr Likotsi of compromising DCEO investigations by holding secret night meetings with Dr Majoro who he says is suspected of several corrupt dealings including in the leasing out of the Victoria Hotel to the late businessman Thabiso Tlelai.
Mr Likotsi, a former National Security Services (NSS) agent, has hit back at Adv Manyokole, accusing him of exerting a “devoted effort to make out a criminal case against the first respondent (Dr Majoro) with an underlying motive of toppling government (sic)”.
“I wish to take the court into my confidence and assert that I observed from my intelligence training and academic expertise in the security sector that there were apparent hallmarks of an official bent on destabilising the administration of the incumbent prime minister (sic),” Mr Likotsi states in his affidavit.
“I had gathered some information to the effect that the director general (DG) was part of a group of a disenchanted political faction who harboured the view that the current government would not last for a period extending to six months. The measures that were seen to be effective in attaining that end were those of concocting a bogus criminal case against the administrative head of the current regime using state apparatus. Regrettably, one such institution that was being utilised is the DCEO.”
Adv Manyokole was appointed to the DCEO top job in July 2020 by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane amid claims in some quarters that he had been appointed to shield the former premier and his allies from being probed for corruption. Although the DCEO boss has denied the allegations, Mr Likotsi insists that Adv Manyokole had confessed to him that he was appointed at the behest of Ms Thabane who was merely a spouse and not a government official. Ms Thabane is alleged to have wielded enormous influence in the administration of her husband. She on several occasions publicly berated government officials. She is also said to have influenced key appointments.
Mr Likotsi said unlike his predecessors, Adv Manyokole lacked investigative skills and was using his position to try and bring down the current government.
“The applicant lacks the requisite experience in the field of intelligence and investigations and his professional portfolio could not be matched with those of his predecessors.
“It is worth stating perhaps with genuine moderation and humility that the applicant (Adv Manyokole) openly expressed his blatant abhorrence of the current administration led by the first respondent (Dr Majoro).
“In a socially conducive climate, the applicant (Adv Manyokole) confessed, free of volition (sic) to me at one point that his comrades are not happy with him to have been appointed to such a high office. He expounded that he had been appointed to his position by the former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane through the influence of his wife (‘Maesaiah). This statement shocked me till today.
“I am more than prepared to enter the witness box and to be cross-examined on this proposition. I was in the company of my colleagues when this compromising statement was made. It is clearly embarrassing if not unwarranted, for an important public functionary of his calibre to be appointed by the influence of a person who is not a state functionary but a spouse to the repository of power with the appointing authority.
“The purpose of bringing this to light is to illustrate that the motives of destabilising the current government led by the first respondent (Dr Majoro) may be as a result of the disenchantment of the predecessor’s spouse and perhaps his allegiance to the predecessor to the office of the prime minister.”
In his application, Adv Manyokole says Dr Majoro is under investigations for money laundering and corruption. One case against the premier has already been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP Adv Hlalefang Motinyane) for prosecution, he claims.
He also implicates the premier in the alleged corrupt awarding of a lease to run Victoria Hotel to the late Mr Tlelai. He alleges that in his bid to protect himself from the money laundering investigations, Dr Majoro had even gone as far as burning the midnight candle in secret meetings with the director general of the National Security Services, Pheello Ralenkoane, and Mr Likotsi. Adv Manyokole lambasts Dr Majoro as a “crusader of corruption”.
In his response, Mr Likotsi alleges that due processes were not followed when the Victoria Hotel investigations were launched because the complainant, Adv Manyokole was himself not a credible source.
He said Adv Manyokole did not follow the due process of reporting the allegations to the DCEO’s reporting centre but immediately instructed him to investigate.
“After observing the passionate fixation about securing a criminal case against the sitting prime minister (Dr Majoro) at all costs, I cautioned myself and conducted my task with the requisite diligence and professionalism until I realised that he (Manyokole) was not happy with the findings of my investigation which were in my view both honest and objective.
“It is important to note that the evidence I unravelled did not point to his number one suspect – the prime minister. I wish to take the court into my confidence and assert that issues of investigations at these infancy stages are privileged in terms of the law but for purposes of this case I shall seek leave of this court in order to quell some sensational and unfounded allegations that the DG has made in his founding affidavit.
“I aver that these allegations were made with a desired end to portray an improper motive on the part of the sitting prime minister and also to derail this court from the issues that have to do with his capacity to hold the fort in such an important and delicate institution in the law enforcement machinery. There is clearly reasonable cause for me to divulge and canvass the details of the investigation to which the DG was bent on implicating the head of government and incidentally compromising the evidently volatile democratic set-up.”
Mr Likotsi said he did not find any incriminating evidence against Dr Majoro in regard to the Victoria Hotel investigations. He said however his findings did not go down well with Adv Manyokole who was determined to implicate Dr Majoro in order to topple the government.
“During the course and scope of the investigations, the DG on numerous occasions, was not happy with my reporting to the effect that all the evidence available could not implicate the first respondent (Dr Majoro) to the crime as alleged.
“As the investigator I maintained a firm and professional position that it would be improper to associate any person with the allegation or crime absent of tangible and cogent evidence linking the suspected person to the crime and the first respondent is not an exception to this principle.
“I wish to take the court into my confidence and assert that I found it to be totally absurd to insist on staging a criminal case against the prime minister over transactions to which he is alleged to have committed when he was finance principal secretary 16 years ago.
“Any allegation against any person does not make one guilty until it is supported by evidence. In this particular case, I have not yet found any evidence proving the allegation except for the fact that there was a sinister motive on the part of the DG to stage an overt act of toppling the government by implicating its head,” Mr Likotsi states.
He does not deny meeting Dr Majoro and Mr Lenkoane but he insists the meeting had nothing to do with the probe into the corruptions claims against Dr Majoro.
He says he only met the premier and the NSS boss to discuss an offer that had been made to him to return to the NSS. He also said he had duly communicated the reason for the meeting to Adv Manyokole after the latter had inquired about it.
Former premier, Mr Thabane, is said to be unhappy with Dr Majoro and wants him toppled. A group of ABC MPs addressed a press conference recently and declared they would not bow to pressure to topple the premier. This after Mr Thabane is said to have demanded Dr Majoro’s toppling at an ABC meeting. Mr Likotsi’s affidavit seems to suggest Adv Manyokole is part of Mr Thabane’s push.