Accused turn witnesses

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Lebohang-PhookoBy Nat Molomo

MASERU — Five of the seven people charged with corruption walked out of the dock after the crown withdrew charges against them. The five are charged together with the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Lebohang Phooko, and Director Roads Network maintenance of Roads Directorate, Tikoe Matsoso.

As the charges were withdrawn, the five left the dock but Phooko and Matsoso remained. The seven together were charged
with the main count of corruption. The crown claims that they contravened section 21 (3) of the prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act (as amended) by Act N0.1 of 1999, read with section, 20 and 34.

“The said accused persons being public officers, unlawfully and intentionally abused their functions in that . .. they procured for their ministry thesupply of stores or equipment or services, more particularly they procured the equipment and vehicles for works along Roma-Mangopeng loop and Ha Nqabeni-Selomo roads from Metsi a Pula Civils and Sethojane Transport &
Plant Hire.”

The crown alleges they did this in violation of public Procurement Regulations 2007 in terms of section 37 of the Finance Order 1988, and alternatively contravening section 36 of the Finance Order 1988 for the “purpose of obtaining undue advantage for themselves or Metsi a Pula Civils and Sethojane Transport & Plant Hire.”

Moliehi Ntlhakana, Lerato Sello, Bahlakoana Makhera, Mochekoane Ramashamole and Moeketsi Matsepe, had charges withdrawn after the prosecutor Advocate Peter Matekane said the prosecution wants them as witnesses. “In effect we are turning the accused into accomplices and that would mean that we withdraw charges against them,” Matekane told the presiding magistrate, Senior Resident Magistrate ‘Makampong Mokhoro at the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

The accused are alternatively charged with contravening section 36 (1) of the Finance Order, 1988 read with section 2
of the Interpretation Act and Section 36 (2) and section 29 of the Finance Order.

It is the state’s case that the accused, being public officers used or attempted to use public monies or public stores for
purposes not authorised by the Finance Order or any other law.

Phooko and Matsoso are represented by Advocate Motiea Teele KC and Advocate Lepedi Molapo. Advocate Teele said they seek postponement to gain further particulars, and they would need time to prepare in the light of amendment to the charges.
The case was postponed to May 28, 2014

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