MASERU — The suspended deputy police commissioner, Motsotuoa Ntaote, has filed a court application to compel commissioner ‘Malejaka Letooane to re-instate him after he was cleared of fraud by the High Court.
Ntaote was facing fraud charges in the High Court for allegedly causing the treasury department to pay him and other police officers the full per diem rate for the trips they took to South Africa in 2005 and 2006.
The prosecution had said Ntaote and other police officers received the full per-diem rate when they were actually entitled to a quarter of the rate.
But High Court Judge Gabriel Mofolo in June cleared Ntaote of the fraud charges.
Mofolo said it seemed there was conspiracy within the police to get Ntaote convicted.
Mofolo also said the conspiracy against Ntaote was aimed at destroying his (Ntaote’s) future.
Therefore he acquitted him.
But the prosecution appealed against Mofolo’s judgment on grounds that the judge had erred because he had ignored evidence tendered by the prosecution witnesses against Ntaote.
After the judgment, Ntaote wrote a letter to Letooane seeking re-instatement saying he had been cleared by the High Court.
Ntaote’s lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times that he filed the application in the High Court after Letooane refused to reinstate Ntaote.
“After the commissioner stated her standpoint on the matter we had to approach the court.
“The reason why we did not approach the court immediately after the judg- ment is that we wanted to give the commissioner the opportunity to state whether she will reinstate him (Ntaote) or not.
“After she said she could not re-instate him we had no alternative but to approach the court to order his reinstatement,” Mda said.
However Mda said the police commissioner is also opposing the reinstatement application.
He said the police’s argument is that the law empowers the police commissioner to interdict a police officer until the resolution on the matter that caused interdiction has been resolved.
Letooane, according to the written answer to Ntaote’s request for reinstatement, says Ntaote’s case has not yet been finalised because the prosecution has appealed.
Mda said the main argument in court would be to interpret the meaning of resolution in the circumstances of the present case.
“Our contention is that the resolution herein referred to is the outcome of the criminal trial in the High Court.
“The High Court has passed its verdict on the matter.
“The fact that the prosecution has appealed does not mean the High Court has not decided on the matter,” Mda said.
He said any steps taken by the prosecution do not render the High Court’s decision an invalid decision.
“If he was convicted he would apply for bail pending appeal.
“This shows that the trial court decision has force.
“In a similar manner the High Court’s decision which cleared him from criminal charges has force. He must be re-instated irrespective of whether the crown has appealed or not,” Mda added.
Mda said Ntaote’s acquittal remains valid until set aside by the appeal court.
“He should be re-instated because his interdiction has lapsed,” Mda said.