MASERU — The frozen bank accounts of an orphanage controlled by former minister and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Monyane Moleleki have a total of M3.3 million in them.
This was revealed during a hearing in High Court judge Justice Nthomeng Majara’s chambers yesterday.
Moleleki had filed an application seeking an order to have the four accounts of Lesiba Children’s Home, an orphanage he runs, unblocked.
The four accounts held with First National Bank (FNB) were frozen on July 27 following a court order sought by the police.
Magistrate ’Makopano Taole said the four accounts should remain frozen pending police investigations.
In their application the police told the magistrate that they suspected that huge amounts of government money were being pumped into the accounts.
The crown’s director of litigation, Lebeoana Letsie, yesterday said in an interview that the accounts had M38 000, over M40 000, M500 000 and M2.8 million.
He said the source of the monies is questionable.
“Our investigators believe that huge monies from the government have been deposited into these accounts for some time,” Letsie told the Lesotho Times after the hearing.
“It was also discovered that several departments of his erstwhile ministry of natural resources deposited monies into the
Letsie said the police and investigators from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) were jointly probing the accounts.
Moleleki, the sole signatory to the accounts, filed an urgent application in the High Court last week saying magistrate Taole had not followed procedures when she issued the order.
“I wish to inform the honourable court at the outset that during or about April 2011, I opened an orphanage in Machache to cater for mainly double-orphaned and destitute children,” said Moleleki in an affidavit.
“This orphanage now houses forty-eight children nearly all of whom are double-orphaned.
“Their ages range from six to 14 years. I am solely responsible for the upkeep of these unfortunate and disadvantaged children who have no homes and/or parents of their own,” he said.
“I aver that I am unable to provide for the said helpless orphans without the funds, which I have in any event, secured for them, and held in the accounts aforesaid.”
Moleleki also dismissed the police’s claims that huge amounts of money belonging to the government had been deposited in the accounts as baseless and false.
Justice Majara ordered that only one of the accounts, the one with M500 000, be unfrozen after Moleleki’s lawyer Salemane Phafane argued that the orphans under Moleleki’s care were suffering.
“The honourable judge felt that it would not be right to starve the children and so she ordered that one of the accounts be
unfrozen,” Letsie said.
“We suggested that she unfreezes the one with M38 000 but it was argued that in light of the time taken after the magistrate’s court ordered the accounts to be frozen, the children must have suffered a lot,” he said.
Letsie said the police will however monitor transactions in this account.
The judge has also given the prosecution a one-week ultimatum to gather all evidence against Moleleki so that when they appear before her next Thursday they would have decided whether he will face any criminal charge.
“This order means that if by then our investigators will not have gathered tangible evidence to prefer criminal charges against Mr Moleleki, all four accounts will be unfrozen,” Letsie said.
“So, next week it is either we charge him or we tell the judge that we do not have any evidence linking him to any crime.”
The police, when applying for an urgent order to freeze the accounts, had told Taole that if they were not frozen the government would “suffer irreparable harm.”
Senior Inspector Mothae told Taole they suspected that account numbers 71318293207, 74318293607, 62310376480 and 62358028390 were used to transfer vast amounts of money from the government.
“The freezing of these accounts is sought only for purposes of investigations and not any other reasons,” reads part of Mothae’s affidavit.