Suspended police boss pleads not guilty

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MASERU – Suspended deputy police commissioner, Motsotuoa Ntaote, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court to answer charges of fraud.
Ntaote, 44, is being charged with making false per diem claims to the treasury department when he attended a fully sponsored trip to South Africa in 2005.
The crown says Ntaote misrepresented to the treasury that he was entitled to the full per diem rate during his two official trips that he undertook.
It says Ntaote and five other police officers unlawfully claimed M12 387.44 from the treasury when their trip to South Africa was fully funded.
The police officers had been invited to attend the Southern African Regional Police Corporation Chiefs Organisation (SARPCCO) games held in South Africa in 2005.
The prosecution last September withdrew charges against Ntaote’s co-accused – one ‘Mamahlohonolo Peko.
The prosecution said Peko would instead be called as a state witness.
Ntaote last year filed an application at the High Court asking the court to quash charges against him.
He also sought to have Peko barred from giving evidence as allowing her to do so would seriously compromise his chances of getting a fair trial.
The High Court dismissed Ntaote’s application. He filed yet another fresh application at the Appeal Court.
The Appeal Court however dismissed Ntaote’s appeal in October. It ordered that the case should proceed at the High Court.
On Tuesday the High Court asked Ntaote to tender his plea with the accused declaring: “I am not guilty.”
Testifying before the court Peko said Ntaote was entitled to receive per diems for a trip to the SARPCCO games in September 2005.
She said Ntaote was only supposed to claim M3 096.86 for the police officers.
Peko said she was aware that Ntaote was wrongfully claiming the per diems because Home Affairs Minister Lesao Lehohla had only approved just a quarter of the claimed funds.
“I was aware that he was wrongfully claiming the full per diem rate but I had to process his claim because he was my superior and he was also forceful. I had to obey his orders,” said Peko.
Ntaote is facing another count of fraud for allegedly misrepresenting to the treasury department that he and two other police officers were entitled to per diems totalling M6 022.34.
This was for a trip that Ntaote undertook to South Africa to attend macro surveillance meetings in December 2006.
The prosecution says the two trips were fully funded. The trial continues.

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