MASERU — A heated exchange erupted in the magistrate court on Monday this week when energy minister Timothy Thahane tried to have his defence waiver the anti-corruption’s request to have his fingerprints taken by the agency.
Thahane had appeared before Chief Magistrate ‘Matankiso Nthunya charged with two counts of fraud relating to a block farming scheme and was also accused of fraud and bribery relating to a wool and mohair product development.
After granting Thahane bail, Nthunya sparked a heated debate between Advocate Qhalehang Letsika and Advocate Sefako Seema over Thahane’s fingerprints taking by the DCEO and ordered Thahane to report to the DCEO on Friday for finger prints taking.
The argument started immediately after Thahane was granted on both charges M10 000 bail each and M100 000 surety each and ordered not to intervene with the crown witnesses and the investigations and to report himself to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) every month end Friday, the prosecution moved that Thahane be ordered to report himself to the agency for his fingerprints to be taken.
Advocate Sefako Seema told the Court the anti-corruption body would like to have Thahane report in person to its offices as some of the procedures that needed to be followed for an accused person to be brought to court had not yet been finalised.
Thahane had last Thursday, under unclear circumstances, failed to appear before the magistrate’s court to be charged together with finance principal secretary Mosito Khethisa and Mokhethi Moshoeshoe of Civa Innovations Management and the DCEO had reported Thahane had blatantly refused to have his finger prints taken by the agency.
Addressing the court, Seema said: “Last week it would be recalled that during investigations there were preliminary procedures which were aimed to be conducted but the accused was informed about but he blatantly refused for such to be undertaken.”
Seema said the DCEO requests a specific order for Thahane to appear before the agency before the end of this week and “specifically on Thursday at 9 o’clock.”
As Seema finished, Advocate Letsika rejoinder he thought the history of the matter would not be necessary as it is a known fact that Thahane is a serving minister of the government of Lesotho.
Before proceeding after the response, Letsika asked to consult his client and upon return from consulting Thahane said his instruction was that the minister would be available on Friday.
He added: “We are dealing with a minister and not an ordinary person and there are certain protocol that needs to be observed . . .”
Seema hit back at Letsika with a shocker saying: “We accept he is a person of high standing but after appearing here he is now a person under the court’s control.”
Seema adamantly added the court should not be seen to be taking orders from the executive branch of government.
“We don’t have a problem and we succumb to Friday that he is proposing but the order should not be Friday because he is busy,” Seema boldly said.
Letsika responded saying that was not the impression his client was giving to the court.
Letsika’s explanation was followed by her ladyship Nthunya breaking the heated exchanges saying Thahane is remanded to November 7 where he would be joining his co-accused on the wool and Mohair product development case.