LHWP boss still free despite ruling

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MASERU — A former government official convicted of corruption is still a free man — a week after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Reatile Mochebelele, the government’s chief representative in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), was not even present when the Court of Appeal passed the sentence last Thursday.
He is believed to be out of the country.
Mochebelele and Letlafuoa Molapo, another government delegate in the project, were convicted of receiving bribes from a German consultancy firm involved in the venture.
They received M1.2 million in bribes from Lahmeyer International between 1988 and 1999.
Molapo was sentenced to six years in jail and he is already behind bars.
However, Mochebele is still at large.
And it appears the drama surrounding the long-running corruption case is far from over.
This week the police said they knew nothing about the LHWP case and would thus not be in a position to launch a manhunt for Mochebelele.
The corruption case was taken to court by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
The DCEO’s director of public education and corruption, Litelu Ramokhoro, yesterday told the Lesotho Times that his institution was not responsible for the location of Mochebelele.
“He has not yet been found,” he said.
“I think the police are now looking for him.
“It is not our responsibility to look for him but we may assist here and there in the process.”
Ramokhoro said the DCEO’s duty was to investigate cases and present them to the prosecution office.
“After that everything is in the hands of the prosecution,” he said.
“If someone absconds then the prosecution works with the police to look for that person.”
Police spokesperson Pheello Mphana, however, said he knew nothing about the circumstances surrounding Mochebelele’s case.
“I know nothing about Mochebelele’s case,” he said.
“The case has been handled by the DCEO.
“I am not even aware if there is any warrant of arrest addressed to the police against him.
“I think the DCEO should give you clear answers.”
The High Court in July sentenced Mochebelele to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of M1 million.
He paid the fine but the prosecution appealed against the sentence.
The prosecution wanted him jailed.
The Court of Appeal last week sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Half of the sentence was suspended.
The court also ordered that he should forfeit M800 000 of the M1 million that he had already paid as a fine.
Effectively he should spend five years behind bars.

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