Manyokole pleads bankruptcy

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…asks govt for M1, 6 million to pay his legal bills

Pascalinah Kabi

SUSPENDED Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General, Mahlomola Manyokole, says he has no money to fund his appearance before a tribunal that was established to probe his fitness to remain in office.

Advocate Manyokole therefore requested the tribunal to help him secure state funding to pay his fees amounting to M1, 6 million.

He said this when he appeared before the tribunal this week in Maseru. The tribunal was set up last December by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to probe him for alleged incompetence. It is headed by retired Judge Teboho Moiloa, who is assisted by High Court Judge Polo Banyane and retired judge, Semapo Peete.

Adv Manyokole is represented by Adv Tekane Maqakachane while the government is represented by Attorney Mohaneng Rasekoai.

However, Adv Manyokole appeared before the tribunal without his lawyer on Monday. He told the tribunal that Adv Maqakachane was recuperating after testing positive to Covid-19.

He then proceeded to detail his financial woes, adding that he had requested the Office of the Prime Minister to foot his legal bill.

“I made a special request to be assisted with the payment on legal fees,” Adv Manyokole said.

“Though we had agreed with Adv Maqakachane to appear today (Monday), it would have still been a challenge because I would not be able to pay him because I have no money. I have many cases in the courts of law. So far, I have two criminal cases and they have consumed a lot of my resources and as a result I am unable to pay him (Maqakachane).”

He said his request was not an unusual one since the state had set a precedent by paying Court of Appeal president, Kananelo Mosito’s legal fees in 2016. This after he had been hauled before a tribunal by the then Pakalitha Mosisili-led government to probe his fitness to remain in office.

Adv Manyokole argued that his situation was similar to that of Justice Mosito and failing to assist him would be discriminatory on the part of the government.

“I therefore request the tribunal to assist me in that regard. I made a request through a letter to the office of the Prime Minister… I have not received any assistance,” Adv Manyokole said.

Mr Rasekoai said he had represented Justice Mosito in 2016 and his fees were paid by the state. He also promised to engage the office of the Attorney General, Rapelang Motsieloa, to facilitate a similar arrangement for Adv Manyokole.

He suggested that Adv Manyokole had failed in his attempts to get state assistance because he not addressed his request to the Office of the Attorney General.

“But that is now water under the bridge and I undertake to engage with the Office of the Attorney General to consider this issue (Manyokole’s request) in good faith and for the sake of fairness,” Mr Rasekoai said.

He also said one had to follow the correct procedures to seek state assistance.

“State-sponsored fees are not demanded as a kind of fait accompli (something which must accomplished as a matter of fact).

“In his letter, Mr Maqakachane demands M1, 6 million. That is not how we went about it (in the Mosito case). There has to be a memorandum of agreement on the tariffs and the rates which have to be paid…I will duly advise Mr Maqakachane on the proper approach,” Attorney Rasekoai said.

Adv Manyokole also asked the tribunal to assist him to obtain some documents from the DCEO to help him prepare his defence. He also asked for the tribunal’s help in engaging some staffers who wants to be his witnesses.

He said he could not engage the DCEO on his own because that would in breach of his bail conditions for his money laundering and corruption case which is before the High Court.

“I need to speak to some DCEO staffers to come and testify before this tribunal. Such officers are even scared of greeting me when they see me on the streets, citing that they will be charged if they are seen talking to me. I need to see my colleagues for them to assist this tribunal to reach a fair and just ruling. I need documents from the office of the DCEO director general including my own letters so that I can assist this tribunal to reach a fair ruling.

“For these reasons, I therefore request that the tribunal proceedings be postponed and that I be assisted with the requests I have made. It is important that I be favoured with a response for my legal fees as well access to documents and potential witnesses,” Adv Manyokole said.

Justice Moiloa then adjourned proceedings for about 30 minutes to enable Adv Manyokole to engage the prosecution over his demands.

Before that, he had stressed the need to expeditiously conclude the hearing in the interests of justice.

“For your sake and for everybody’s sake, we want to know what the outcome will be so that you enjoy your life without this thing hanging over your head. So, we need to expediate these matters and all of us need to cooperate with each other.

“Whatever problems you have in dealing with this matter, it is critical that you come to us for help where necessary. That will help to expediate this matter,” Justice Moiloa told Adv Manyokole.

He also assured Adv Manyokole that the tribunal did not have any problems with him accessing files from the DCEO and interacting with potential witnesses from the anti-corruption agency.

When they returned from their discussions, Mr Rasekoai informed the tribunal that they had discussed Adv Manyokole’s concerns. He then requested the hearing to be postponed to give them time to address all the issues raised by the DCEO boss.

“We can confirm that we engaged with each other and we also engaged his (Manyokole’s) lawyer Ntate Maqakachane to discuss the modalities. We agreed that as soon proceedings are adjourned, we would engage Ntate Maqakachane to advise him on the modalities of facilitating the payment of his fees by the state. We will appear before the tribunal on 6 September 2021 to advise it of the progress thereof.

“We also engaged on the discovery of documents and the proposed witnesses who shall testify on behalf of Ntate Manyokole. He (Manyokole) will inform us of the ducments being sought and the names of individuals who shall be engaged. With the permission of the tribunal, we shall then sketch the proposed way forward regarding the filing of the respondent’s response and the complaint’s reply,” Mr Rasekoai said. Adv Manyokole concurred.

Justice Moiloa then adjourned proceedings to Monday.

 

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