THE Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) is investigating the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) over allegations the commission imported a machine which is being used to duplicate the voters’ roll.
According to documents the Lesotho Times has managed to obtain, the LMPS was now investigating possible fraud in the voter-registration process following the discovery of two registration cards with the same serial number.
Thabang Mokhosi (37) and Nomakeri Amelia Khwaza (29), the documents state, registered to vote in Maputsoe and Moyeni constituencies respectively, and were issued registration cards bearing the same serial number, 032250020195.
The LMPS Commercial Crimes Counter Unit (CCCU) alleges a machine bearing serial number MR225 was used to duplicate the cards in violation of the National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011 and Penal Code Act of 2010.
CCCU head, Senior Inspector Sera Cedric Makharilele, has since sought an order from the Maseru Magistrate’s Court directing the IEC to provide him with “information pertaining to the importation of the registration machine bearing serial number MR 225”.
The court order, which was issued by Magistrate Monyake Hlabanyane and dated 28 January 2015, reads: “Having heard No 10555 Senior Inspector Makharilele, and having heard (and) read his affidavit, the court orders that the Independent Electoral Commission furnishes him with information pertaining to the importation of the registration machine, the district it was allocated to and person assigned to operate it.”
In his affidavit, Senior Inspector Makharilele noted: “Because this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of securing a court order, I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation.
“I have set forth only the facts that I believe are necessary to establish probable cause to believe that there are two electoral registration cards with the same serial number (032250020195) which one or both were fraudulently issued contrary to the provisions of the National Assembly Electoral Act. I therefore request the IEC to furnish me with information pertaining to the importation of the registration machine, district allocated to and the person assigned to operate it.”
Senior Inspector Makharilele further noted how he had made several attempts to acquire the information he sought from the IEC to no avail.
“I seek this court order as a last resort after all means to secure the information were exhausted. I may site the letter(s) dated 28 November 2014, 3 December 2014 and 18 December 2014 attached hereto as correspondence and proof,” Senior Inspector Makharilele stated.
In his last letter addressed to the IEC Acting Director of Elections, ’Mamatlere Pontšo Matete, Senior Inspector Makharilele said: “The Commercial Crimes Counter Unit is investigating a case of alleged forgery, fraud and defeating and obstructing the cause of justice as interpreted by the Penal Code Act of 2010 as well as contravening the provisions of the Electoral Act. This involves voter’s number 032250020195.
“This letter serves as a reminder for the request of information which was forwarded to your department on 3 November 2014. The requested information was based on the importation of the registration machine bearing serial number MR225, district allocated to and person assigned to operate it and acquisition of source documents (submitted documents at the front desk) when the subject was applying for registration and granted a card bearing the said serial number on 27 March 2012. Also requested were source documents pertaining to the amendment of the same voter’s number on 19 April 2012.”
Contacted for comment, Ms Matete confirmed the developments, telling the Lesotho Times: “It is true we received that court order. We have since submitted that particular machine to the police, but they (police) said they did not want the machine per se. Instead, they listed items they needed to complete their investigation. However, because we are busy preparing for the elections, we have not yet put together that information they listed.”
Ms Matete added that last Thursday, the police summoned four IEC officials to the CCCU department at Police Headquarters, Maseru, for interrogation.
“Mr Makharilele came himself and requested the information and also took four of our officials to police headquarters for interrogation regarding this matter. The officials later came back to the office after being asked some questions relating to the issue,” Ms Matete said.
Asked to explain the issuance of the registration cards with the same serial number, Ms Matete said: “We were aware of that problem even before the police came to investigate. We are currently working on a lasting solution to prevent such problems which I believe were due to technical errors and were not intentional.”