Thahane, Khethisa graft trial postponed again

 

Tefo Tefo

FORMER Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs minister, Timothy Thahane, and suspended Finance ministry Principal Secretary Mosito Khethisa will only know of their corruption trial schedule in March 2015.

The duo appeared before the High Court on Monday this week expecting a timetable for the hearing to be set, but presiding judge, Justice Molefi Makara, postponed the case to 2 March 2015.

However, sources close to the case told the Lesotho Times the case would be heard in the High Court from 5-20 May 2015, subject to confirmation on 2 March.

Dr Thahane and Mr Khethisa are charged alongside Civa Innovations (Proprietary) Limited Director Mokhethi Moshoeshoe, for allegedly defrauding government of M19 million in 2010.

The charges revolve around a contract awarded to Civa on 29 April 2010 by the government for the establishment of a wool and mohair project in Maseru in contravention of the country’s procurement regulations.

Mr Khethisa, who was suspended in April this year after being charged in a different fraud case, and Mr Moshoeshoe, first appeared before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court in October 2013 regarding the alleged fraud, while Dr Thahane joined the trial later.

Dr Thahane and his co-accused face two charges — fraud and bribery.

The fraud charge reads: “On or about 29 April 2010 or thereafter in the district of Maseru, the accused, sharing a common purpose, unlawfully, deliberately and with intent to defraud, represented to the government of Lesotho or the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning that an agreement entered into between the Ministry and Accused Three (Civa Innovations Management {Proprietary} Limited) on 29 April 2010 in respect of Wool & Mohair Product Development, complied with the Public Procurement Regulations of 2007.

“This was done with the intention that the ministry should act upon the said misrepresentation to its prejudice and to the prejudice of the Government of Lesotho, by paying to the accused three sums totaling M8 379 070.50; M9 772 000.00 and M915 596.85 and did thus commit the crime of fraud.”

On bribery, the charge sheet reads: “On a date unknown to the Crown but before 29 April 2010, Accused Three (the company) and Four (Director Moshoeshoe) corruptly offered a consideration to Accused One (Thahane) and Two (Khethisa), who corruptly agreed to accept such consideration in return for action in their official capacities as public officials — Accused One in his capacity as Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Accused Two as Principal Secretary.

“Such action by Accused One and Two was facilitating a contract between the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, on the one hand, and Accused Three on the other, on 29 April 2010, in respect of Wool and Mohair Product Development. Such consideration was in the form of a share in the proceeds of funds received by Accused Three in respect of such contract.”

When the fraud was allegedly committed, Dr Thahane was Finance minister during the Lesotho Congress for Democracy government.

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