’Mantoetse Maama and Billy Ntaote
POLICE are yet to arrest any suspects in the vandalism of Mobile Registration Units (MRUs) and disappearance of 21 laptops which were to be used in next year’s parliamentary election.
The computers allegedly went missing “sometime in October” this year but the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) only reported the theft and vandalism to the police almost one month later, according to Lesotho Mounted Police Service Acting Spokesperson, Thato Ramarikhoana.
Said Senior Inspector Ramarikhoana in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week: “A 48-year-old man who works at the IEC told the police the theft and vandalism took place sometime in October. The value of the missing machines and vandalism is M105 000, but it is not clear why the IEC management took one month to report the theft.
“No arrests have been made in connection with the incident and police investigations are continuing.”
Meanwhile, IEC chairman, Mahapela Lehohla has said he suspects a “sinister” motive behind the theft.
“Surely, those people who stole these computers had sinister motives,” Justice Lehohla told the Lesotho Times on the sidelines of a press conference held in Maseruon Monday this weekto explain the incident.
“This is why we have asked experts to assist the police in investigating the casebecause we don’t want anyone to be tampering with the voters’ roll even if we have been given assurances the theft and vandalism would not affect it.”
In his address, IEC Commissioner,Mamosebi Pholo told the media briefing600 MRUs were procured in January 2012for use in the 26 May 2012 National Assembly election.
“After the suspension of voter-registration, data from the MRUs was downloaded into the IEC’s main server to update the voters’ roll and the MRUs were stored in our warehouse, located in the industrial area,” said Advocate Pholo.
“On 11 November 2012, we were told by the (IEC) Director that the IT Manager and his assistants had told him they went to the warehousesometime in Octoberto collect the machines and start preparing for next year’s election. They said when they arrived, they discovered 21 MRUs had been vandalised and laptops stolen.
“When we asked what could have happened, neither the IT Manager nor the assistants could tell us, and when further investigations were conducted, it was discovered the supplier had delivered 611 MRUs in 2012 and apart from the 21 vandalised, 11 cannot be accounted for.
“We then reported the matter to the police on 13 November. However, we have been assured the vandalised machines cannot affect our operations.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Makase Nyapisi said the government had already released M30 million to the IEC for the upcoming poll, while the full budget is being finalised.