Top lawyer arrested over botched land deal



Deputy Police Spokesperson Senior Inspector Lerato Motseki
Deputy Police Spokesperson Senior Inspector Lerato Motseki

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Prominent lawyer Advocate Thulo Hoeane was arrested yesterday over a botched land deal and is expected to appear before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court today on fraud charges.

Advocate Hoeane was arrested at his Ha-Thamae home around midday by two police officers from the Fraud Department over M15 000 the lawyer allegedly owes a Botswana man since 2014.

He was taken to Police Headquarters where he was interrogated and detained pending his appearance in court today.

The lawyer was, however, released late in the afternoon on condition he reports to Police Headquarters at 8am today to be taken to the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.

Police spokesperson Lerato Motseki, last night confirmed the arrest, telling the Lesotho Times: “Advocate Hoeane was arrested because he has not been cooperative with the police since this matter came to our attention.

“Actually, the Botswana man (name withheld) is the one who reported to the police in 2014 that Advocate Hoeane owed him M15 000 which he had given him to secure him a residential site in Maseru, but failed.

“The Botswana man is married to a Mosotho and wanted to reside in Lesotho following the marriage.

“He had made a deal with Advocate Hoeane to assist him get a site in Maseru. Apparently, that’s when he paid the money to the lawyer but no site was secured.”

Senior Inspector Motseki said after the police intervened, Advocate Hoeane paid the man M2000 in 2014.

“Advocate Hoeane only paid M2000 in 2014, according to what I have gathered from the investigators. The police had never intended to open a case against a person of such high standing in society as Advocate Hoeane until the lawyer himself reneged on his promise to the police and the Botswana man that he would pay. The police have been hunting him for a while now hoping he would pay the rest of the money but to no avail. The police were left with no choice but to arrest him when that chance came today,” she said.

However, Advocate Hoeane told the Lesotho Times  that he only owed the man M4000. The lawyer also said he believed the arrest had nothing to do with the money but the high-profile cases he is handling.

He said: “I met this man late in 2015 and he wanted me to assist him get a site. We had identified three people who could sell their land to him then. But we subsequently failed to agree terms and he wanted his money back. I told the man and the police that I could only reimburse him the money he had paid for the site but not the legal fees that he also paid me. I said this because I had used my legal expertise in the negotiations although things did not work out. So he could not expect me to pay back the legal fees, otherwise what would I have done all those negotiations for?”

He insisted he only owed the man M4000 after paying him M2000 in 2015. But Advocate Hoeane was also quick to indicate he was not arrested because he owed the Botswana man.

“I am not a fool. I am quite aware of the police interests that drove them to arrest me today. I cannot be arrested for a mere debt. Obviously there are people in high places who are involved in my arrest. There is someone or some high-ranking people who just want to see me in jail because I am handling some high-profile and sensitive cases which could possibly implicate some people in high places. But nothing will deter me from the work I do. I will not be intimidated by anybody in any manner,” he said.

Advocate Hoeane is currently representing Koalabata double ritual murder suspects, Lehlohonolo Scott and his mother ’Malehlohonolo. The two are accused of allegedly killing their neighbours, Moholobela Seetsa (13) and Kamohelo Mohata (22), in January and July 2012, respectively. The victims’ body parts were found in three locations in Koalabata, prompting speculation they had been killed for ritual purposes.

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