MASERU — A senior High Court official, a prominent lawyer and a local businessman are facing theft charges for allegedly stealing goods worth M9 million.
Deputy Sheriff Tsebo Monyako, attorney Steve Buys and a prominent businessman Ashraff Abubaker appeared in court this week to face charges of theft, fraud and obstruction of justice.
They are accused of stealing goods belonging to T W Garments and Tony Textiles five years ago.
The court papers did not specify the type of goods stolen.
The two companies were under liquidation when the crimes were committed, according to the prosecution.
Abubaker had successfully filed an application in the High Court to liquidate Tony Textile on behalf of the Lesotho Oil Mills and Soap Factory (Pty) Limited which he owned.
T W Garments was put on final liquidation in December 2004 after an application brought to the court by Union Packaging Manufacturers (Pty) Limited.
The companies were owned by different people.
Buys was appointed liquidator for both Tony Textiles and T W Garments and he took control of the business entity, assets and stock for both firms.
The prosecution says Monyako also took control of the two liquidated firms on behalf of the liquidator (Buys) by way of the liquidation order.
The prosecution alleges that Buys, Abubaker and Monyako stole the goods belonging to T W Garments and Tony Textiles.
The goods belonged to creditors and owners of the two companies.
Abubaker is charged with obstruction of justice in that he refused tax officials and the police access to T W Garments and Tony Textiles premises.
“He obstructed the officers in the performance of their duties and functions,” the charge sheet says.
The prosecution alleges that this happened after the businessman had taken over the operations of T W Garments and Tony Textiles.
It is further alleged that when the taxmen and police officers confronted him he denied the existence of the goods.
Buys is also accused of theft and fraud.
The prosecution alleges that, like Abubaker, he also denied the existence of the goods.
Monyako is also charged with theft.
The state says the three “did unlawfully and intentionally steal the manufactured goods”.
The prosecution further alleges that the three did not disclose to the commissioner of customs and excise and the Lesotho Revenue Authority the true and correct facts about the goods.
It is also alleged that they misled the owners of two companies, their creditors, the Master of High court and the government revenue authorities.
They are alleged to have claimed that they could either sell or hold the T W Garments and Tony Textiles assets and goods.
In court this week the trio argued that they were entitled to get further particulars on their charges including further documents which the prosecution intends to use against them during the trial.
Speaking on their behalf, Advocate Kemp Kemp said the crown should provide the defence with all documents related to the case.
“There are some documents which should form part of the charge.
“If documents are relevant to the case
Sherrif in trouble
the crown is obliged to give out such documents.
“We need those documents for us to prepare for our defence,” Kempt said.
He said they need further particulars to the charge because they wanted the charges to be clearer.
Another defence lawyer Advocate Christo Van Schalkwyk said the prosecution should supply the defence with further documents because the accused have a constitutional right to access such documents.
However the prosecutor Henk Louw said the prosecution could not give further documents to the defense because some documents are meant to be produced during the trial as part of evidence.
“It seems the accused want us to give evidence before the trial starts,” Louw argued.
“I don’t see why they can’t plead to the charges and see what happens thereafter,” Louw said.
They have not pleaded to the charges.
High Court judge Ts’eliso Monaphathi on Tuesday said he would only make a ruling in October on whether the prosecution should provide the documents or not.