PS Manyokole charged with fraud

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Mohalenyane Phakela

SUSPENDED Local Government and Chieftainship Principal Secretary, Lefu Manyokole, has been charged with fraud after he allegedly connived with other state officials to  unlawfully acquire title over a piece of land in Maseru.

Mr Manyokole appeared before Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa yesterday and was released on M1000 bail.  He was ordered to attend all remand hearings, not interfere with Crown witnesses and stand trial to finality.

According to the indictment read to Mr Manyokole by Magistrate Moopisa, the suspended PS connived with Lesotho’s Land Administration Authority (LAA) officials to illegally acquire a piece of land in Qoaling, Maseru, between 2016 and 2018.

The state alleges Mr Manyokole made false representations to the LAA regarding plot number 13291-1110 to acquire illegal lease title to it.

“… At or near LAA offices in Maseru, the said accused unlawfully and intentionally registered or obtained a lease of plot number 13291-1110 knowing that it did not belong to him,” the charge sheet reads.

Mr Manyokole is accused of contravening provisions of section 83 of the Land Act of 2010 by making a false claim to gain the piece of land.

Magistrate Moopisa had also told Mr Manyokole that he had a right to apply for bail and obtain a lawyer of his choice.

Advocate Letsatsi Masoeu represented Mr Manyokole and applied for his bail.

Magistrate Moopisa released Mr Manyokole on M1000 bail and ordered him to reappear before the same court on 30 January 2023.

The prosecutor, Adv Keketso Motiki, told the court they intend to add more accused persons to the case on that day.

She did not oppose Mr Manyokole’s bail application.

Mr Manyokole, who was dressed in khaki trousers and a short-sleeved blue shirt, arrived at the Maseru Magistrates’ Court around 12.30pm yesterday in the company of another man.

Upon arrival, he shouted at the Lesotho Times female reporters who were taking pictures of him.

“Why are you taking pictures of me? Those are my pictures which you cannot take without my consent. What do you want to do with them? I asked you, why are you taking pictures of me? You do not even know what business brings me here,” Mr Manyokole charged.

This reporter intervened and asked Mr Manyokole to backoff and refrain from intimidating the media as it has a right to record court proceedings.

Mr Manyokole then waited until around 3.30pm when the court formally charged him.

He had a tough time with Magistrate Moopisa over his conduct in the dock. Firstly, Magistrate Moopisa rebuked him over the use of a cell-phone in the dock. Mr Manyokole said he was switching it off.

But it still rang interrupting Magistrate Moopisa while she was reading the charge sheet.  The police officer manning the court then confiscated the phone.

Furthermore, Mr Manyokole was rebuked by the prosecutor for responding by nodding his head and referring to the magistrate as ‘Mme instead of calling her using court decorum like “My Lady”.

Magistrate Moopisa even asked Adv Masoeu whether Mr Manyokole was well.  The lawyer apologised and told the magistrate it was Mr Manyokole’s first time in court.

She then chastised the lawyer for not appraising Mr Manyokole on how to conduct himself in court.

Mr Manyokole and other PSs have been in the news recently after they were raided by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) for allegedly lootings funds meant to counter the Covi-19 Pandemic.

Mr Manyokole was allegedly found with a sizeable amount of cash at his home during the raid by the DCEO officers. He is alleged to have received bribes in exchange of Covid-19 tenders.  Mr Manyokole has since been suspended from his position, according to the information released in court.

 

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