MASERU — Two assistant police commissioners, John Selete and Thakane Theko, together with a local businesswoman Rebecca Makhalemele appeared in the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday to answer charges of fraud and corruption.
Selete is facing five fraud charges while Theko and Makhalemele are facing four charges each.
Selete and Theko also are accused of one count of corruption.
They were released on a bail of M1 500 each and were ordered not to interfere with crown witnesses and investigators.
Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya, who heard their bail applications in her chambers, said the trio should attend remand on April 16.
A lawyer from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) who is prosecuting the case, Advocate Seema Sefako, alleges in the charge sheet that the three committed fraud involving M389 740 in June 2010.
The charge sheet says the police central region procured combat jackets worth M98 934 from Linare Clothing (Pty) Ltd.
Two more companies, Barali Suppliers and New Vision Suppliers, each supplied the police with combat jackets at the same price as Linare Clothing.
In another transaction Linare Clothing supplied combat jackets at M92 938.
Sefako says Selete and Theko contravened the Finance Order of 1988 and Interpretation Act of 1977.
The three are also charged with violating the Procurement Regulations of 2007.
In count one, they are accused of making a fictitious quotation from two companies they called Bakubung and Joyous Suppliers which accompanied Barali Suppliers’ quotation.
Barali Suppliers fraudulently won the tender to supply 66 combat jackets against the two companies, Bakubung and Joyous Suppliers, according to the charge sheet.
Barali Suppliers, which is owned by Makhalemele, was paid M98 934.
“At all material times to this charge, the accused persons associated themselves with the actions or acts of each other in a joined (sic) unlawful enterprise or common design and thus acting in common purpose,” reads the charge sheet.
In the second count they are accused of fraudulently coming up with two other fictitious companies, Rabohlale and PTKH Suppliers, which submitted quotations for the supply of 66 combat jackets in July 2010.
Another company belonging to Makhalemele, Linare Clothing (Pty) Ltd won the tender and was paid a further M98 934.
“The accused knew fully well that the aforegoing representations were false, that (Selete and Makhalemele) caused the two fictitious quotations accompanying Linare Clothing (Pty) Ltd to be delivered to LMPS procurement section,” says the charge sheet.
In the third count, the trio is accused of submitting fictitious quotations of Essential Business Services and Bakubung so that Makhalemele’s company, New Vision Suppliers, could win the tender unchallenged.
New Vision Suppliers was paid M98 934 for supplying the police with 66 combat jackets.
In count four, it is alleged that in January 2011 they again sent fabricated quotations from Bakubung and Bokamoso Corporate Wear to the procurement section so that Linare Clothing could win the tender without competition.
Linare Clothing was paid M92 938 for the supply of the 62 combat jackets.
Selete and Theko are accused of corruption in that between June 2010 and January 2011 they, as assistant commissioners of police, “unlawfully and intentionally abused the functions or positions of their said offices in the performance of their duties in violation of the procurement regulations”.
The prosecution says they did this to gain “an undue advantage for themselves and (Makhalemele)’s companies,” Linare Clothing, Barali Suppliers and New Vision Suppliers.
The prosecution also charges that Selete and Theko ordered the procurement of jackets “for more than a fair and reasonable price.”
“They failed to comply with the law governing the procurement of the said goods,” the charge sheet said.
Procurement regulations require that if goods or services cost beyond M30 000 but below M100 000 at least three quotations should be sourced from different service providers or suppliers.
If goods or services cost over M100 000 the procurement regulations call for open tendering.
Selete and Theko, according to the prosecution, broke the total cost of combat jackets into four to make each procurement below M100 000 and above M30 000 to help Makhalemele’s quotations to qualify.
This is not the first time that Makhelemele and Theko have appeared before a magistrate charged with fraud in connection with the shady deals involving police uniforms.
They first appeared in court in June 2011 and August last year where they were charged together with another Assistant Commissioner of Police Dlamini Mphatšoane and Inspector Habofanoe Lepheane.
Another accused was Deputy Commissioner Tumelo Moseme.
They were nabbed by the DCEO following an investigation that lasted more than six months which dug deep into their bank accounts to unravel the extent of their alleged sleaze.
The prosecution claimed that the police officers had received M120 000 in bribes from Makhalemele.
In the bribery charge, Magistrate Molemo Monethi said Mphatšoane, Moseme, Theko and Lepheane allegedly received M125 000 from Makhalemele in May last year, which was paid to them through separate transactions as a reward for awarding the tenders.
The charge sheet says Makhalemele paid Theko M20 000 in cash while two days earlier she had paid her M70 000 through a bank transfer.
Makhalemele further paid Theko M30 000 through a bank transfer and later she also dished out M5 000 to the top policewoman in cash.
The case continues.