LOCAL Government and Chieftainship minister, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, has been accused of land pollution amid revelations that his unlicensed waste disposal truck was impounded by Maseru City Council (MCC) officials on New Year’s Eve on allegations of dumping sewerage at an undesignated area in Ha Pena-Pena, Maseru.
The driver of the minister’s truck was arrested and fined M5000 for his illegal actions.
Incidentally, Mr Moramotse heads the MCC’s parent ministry. As if contravening the pollution by-laws was not enough, the impounded truck was released by council officials before the M5000 fine had even been paid.
An MCC officer who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said, “the truck was released before the fine had been paid after one of our senior officers, acting Town Clerk, Motseki Khuto, gave orders for its release.
“We don’t know if he was acting on his own or under Ntate Moramotse’s instructions since the latter heads our parent ministry”.
The source said the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) caught wind of the matter and called Mr Khuto, saying his order for the release of the truck when the fine had not been paid was tantamount to corruption.
“It was only after the DCEO’s intervention that the fine was paid,” the source said.
Contacted for comment, Mr Khuto denied any wrongdoing, saying the truck was only released after the fine had been paid.
“These accusations are baseless. I did not order the release of any vehicle. However, I am aware that a waste disposal truck was impounded on Friday and it was only released after the fine had been paid,” Mr Khuto said.
However, DCEO spokesperson, ’Matlhokomelo Senoko, confirmed that the anti-graft body had intervened upon learning about the unprocedural release of the impounded truck.
“The DCEO was made aware of the release of the truck before the fine had been paid and we immediately took up the matter with the Town Clerk,” Ms Senoko said, adding that the fine was eventually paid.
Besides polluting the environment, the truck was being used illegally as it is not registered with the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) as per the regulations.
WASCO Public Relations Officer, Dave Mahlo, said the truck was not registered with his organisation hence it was being illegally used for waste disposal purposes.
“This particular truck is not registered with us. All the tankers that are used for disposing sewerage tendered and were awarded the job,” Mr Mahlo said.
On his part, Mr Moramotse said the tanker belonged to his son.
“That is not my tanker. It belongs to my son. He told me that he had paid a M5000 fine for its release after it had been impounded.
“My son also told me that he is awaiting an operating licence after submitting his application to WASCO,” Mr Moramotse said. However, the MCC sources insisted that the tanker belonged to the minister.
Mr Moramotse is no stranger to controversy.
In April 2020 when he was Police and Public Safety minister, Mr Moramotse was charged with contravening Covid-19 regulations. This after he allegedly bought alcohol in contravention of gazetted regulations forbidding such purchases during the national lockdown at the time.
He was accused of illegally purchasing two boxes of assorted whiskeys at Borokhoaneng Urban Offsales in Maseru.
He was later released on M500 bail. The matter is pending in the Maseru Magistrates’ Court.