DCEO summons Metsing over graft probe

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’Marafaele Mohloboli and Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE DIRECTORATE on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) this week summoned former deputy premier Mothetjoa Metsing as part of its ongoing investigation into suspicious deposits that were made into his bank accounts three years ago.

Mr Metsing, who is also Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, arrived at the DCEO offices in Maseru on Tuesday accompanied by party officials and hordes of supporters.

The investigation was launched in light of allegations there had been suspicious deposits into Mr Metsing’s bank accounts between 2013 and 2014. Mr Metsing allegedly received M328 000 and M118 000 between April 2013 and June 2013. A deposit of M524 964 into his account was also not explained.

This was after the controversial allocation of a road tender to a company known as Big Bravo Construction Company for the construction of roads in some parts of Maseru.

DCEO spokesperson ’Matlhokomelo Senoko confirmed to the Lesotho Times that Mr Metsing had been summoned over the investigation.

She said the directorate had to resort to summoning Mr Metsing through an SMS after his phone rang unanswered.

“We tried to contact Ntate Metsing by phoning him, but there was no answer and then we opted to drop him an SMS knowing that he would definitely see it,” Ms Senoko said.

“The SMS was very concise in stating that he ought to report himself to the DCEO on Tuesday at 10.00 am. We also notified his legal representative.”

She indicated that Mr Metsing cooperated with the investigators, adding that the probe was still ongoing.

For his part, Mr Metsing addressed the gathering outside the DCEO offices soon after the questioning, saying the investigation was a ploy to tarnish his reputation by his political opponents.

Loosely quoting Matthew 10:17, he said: “The word of God says they will deliver you into their courts and they will flog you in their premises. Be steadfast because he who has promised us is trustworthy. Look at your enemies in the face and laugh at calamities.

“We embarked on this journey a long time ago. Your presence has made me strong and I feel that I am not alone.  The onus is now left with the DCEO.”

Big Bravo Construction was engaged for the upgrading of Matala Phase One and Matala to Ha Leqele Bus Stop roads in 2014.

The company is alleged to have won the tender on Mr Metsing’s influence and the company left road works incomplete about two months before their contract ended in 2015.

The company was awarded the M120 million tender to upgrade the roads in what competitors said could have been a fraudulent process.

The alleged dubious deposits into Mr Metsing’s bank accounts happened at a time when Mr Metsing was Local Government minister and deputy prime minister in the tripartite coalition government that was led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in 2014.

Mr Metsing had lodged a constitutional challenge against the DCEO for investigating his banking details alleging it was a violation of his right to privacy.

He also wanted the court to declare acquisition of his banking details by the DCEO from two prominent banks, unconstitutional.

The former premier also complained about the acquisition of his banking details from Standard Lesotho Bank and Nedbank without being consulted, a move which he said violated his constitutional rights.

He had alleged in the court papers that the investigations into his bank accounts was a ploy to tarnish his reputation by his co-partners in the then coalition government.

The High Court dismissed his constitutional claim on 25 February 2015.

He appealed against the High Court decision but the Court of Appeal in November 2015 also rejected his claim.

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