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More woes for Manyokole

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….as PM Majoro suspends him again to pave way for tribunal

Pascalinah Kabi

IT never rains but pours for Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole.

The embattled Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) was this week slapped with a fresh suspension, by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, to pave way for a tribunal appointed to inquire into his fitness to remain in office to begin its work.

The suspension came a few hours after High Court judge, Moroke Mokhesi, issued an order declaring that Adv Manyokole’s January 2020 suspension was null and void.

The order was issued after the state applied for clarity and a proper interpretation of last Thursday’s disputed judgement on Adv Manyokole’s suspension.  The judgment was not particularly clear on the issue of Adv Manyokole’s suspension. It had mentioned the illegality of his suspension in passing while granting the reliefs that had been sought against him.

In his Monday judgement, Justice Mokhesi said “that order should read as follows; suspension of the application is declared null and void ab initio (from the beginning)”.

But Dr Majoro did not waste any time as he slapped Adv Manyokole with a fresh suspension letter less than two hours after Justice Mokhesi’s order.

“I am in receipt of the advice of Minister of Justice and Law (Professor Nqosa Mahao) recommending your suspension from duty following the establishment of a tribunal in terms of Legal Notice No.139 of 2020,” Dr Majoro said.

“I author this letter mindful of the order imposed by Mr Justice Mokhesi in CIV/APN/463/20. I have also been made aware that you are facing criminal charges and currently out on bail in CRI/MSU/74/21. I have thoroughly applied my mind to the recommendation and gave due consideration to the competing interests involved and found it prudent to act as I hereby do.

“Acting pursuant to the provisions of Section 4 (6) of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act No.5 of 1999, (as amended) — and also given the fact that you are also an accused in the above referenced case, I am also empowered under common law to place you on suspension on account of criminal proceedings in which you are currently on bail with full pay and benefits forthwith,” Dr Majoro said.

He said the suspension would remain in effect until such time when the question of Adv Manyokole’s fitness to hold office or otherwise has been fully investigated and concluded by the tribunal headed by Retired High Court Judge, Teboho Moiloa.

“On even note, the criminal trial in which you are charged and currently on bail is yet another weighty factor that prompts the suspension that I am currently placing upon you. Upon receipt of this letter, you must submit all the property of the Directorate in your possession — be it, keys, or any other material in your possession which is necessary for the smooth transition of your suspension to your immediate junior.

“During this period of suspension, you shall not attend your place of work, other than for the purpose of assisting in the investigation into your conduct by the tribunal. Please, therefore, remain available to meet with any of the persons assigned to investigate this matter.

“You will refrain from venturing in any public debates or conduct public interviews about the privileged institutional information of DCEO without express authorization of the acting head and any such act will prompt disciplinary action against you,” Dr Majoro said.

Adv Manyokole was charged with money laundering, corruption and abuse of power last week. He appeared before Maseru Magistrate Teboho Thoso who released him on free bail the same day Thursday.

Magistrate Thoso also ordered Adv Manyokole to reappear before him on 4 March 2021 for the setting of the trial date.

Adv Manyokole was suspended on 7 January 2021 by Prime Minister Majoro on allegations of incompetence. He was suspended on the advice of Justice and Law Minister, Prof Mahao.

The suspension triggered a bitter High Court battle between the two sides wherein Adv Manyokole alleged that Dr Majoro and Prof Mahao were “crusaders of corruption” who had only suspended him because he was investigating them and other high-profile people for corruption.

Adv Manyokole’s application to reverse the premier’s appointment of a tribunal to determine his fitness to remain in office was dismissed on Thursday by Justice Mokhesi. The three-man tribunal is expected to start its inquiry into Adv Manyokole’s fitness to hold office anytime from now. Apart from Justice Moiloa, the other members of the tribunal are High Court judges Polo Banyane and Semapo Peete.

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