â€¦uses terminal benefits to pay for â€˜sinsâ€™
A Directorate on Disputes Prevention and Resolutions employee, Masekake Thamae tasted the mercy of the court after being allowed to walk scot-free with a warning not to repeat the same offences after being found guilty of fraud by the Maseru Magistrate court.
Thamae who was employed at the DDPR as Senior Accountant was pardoned by the Magistrate court after pleading guilty to the charges of fraud and corruption inter alia. Magistrate Teboho Thoso told Thamae not to repeat the same offence after suspending the 10 year or M10 000 sentence.
Thamae was accused of embezzling the institutionâ€™s money amounting to a whooping M276 102. 78 in the period spanning 2016 to 2019.
â€œAccused herein was charged with seven counts which included fraud, corruption and money laundering and the charges were pursuant to multiple statutes though full details of the charges shall not be included since they are self-explanatory and more comprehensive in the charge sheet.
â€œOn count 1 (one) accused was charged with contravention of section 21 (3) (b) of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act no. 5 as amended by the no. 8 Act of 2008. In the alternative to count one, accused was charged with contravention of section 68 (1) read with section 109 of the Penal Code Act of 2010 although the amounts of money involved in both was the sum of M87, 517, 68.
â€œOn count two accused was charged with contravention of section 59 (c) of the Penal Code Act of 2010 and sum of money involved was 14, 500, 77 and in the alternative she was charged with contravention of section 58 of the same Act and the sum of money involved was also the same,â€ the judgment reads.
â€œOn count three, the accused was charged with contravention of section 59 (c) Penal Code above-mentioned and the same charge was of money amounting to M80, 683. 56. On count four accused was charged with contravention of section 22 read with 109 of the Penal Code Act and the sum of money involved was M5, 900.00.
â€œOn count five the accused was charged with contravention of section of the money laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act 2008 as amended by Act no.7 of 2016 though the sum of money is similar to that of count one. Whereas on count six accused was charged with contravention of section 25 of the Money Launderingâ€™s Act thought the amount of money involved is also similar to that involved in two,â€ the ruling reads.
According to Thoso, all the above-mentioned offences were alleged to have been committed by the accused person at the DDPR during the period of December 2016 to December 2019 while she was working as the Senior Accountant in that institution.
He continued that the accused had a representative in her first remand as she was represented by Molati Chambers, however, due to financial constraints accusedâ€™s counsel of record withdrew their mandate to represent her and as a result she was advised to seek representation of the Legal Aid Chamber which she did.
â€œAfter the Legal Aid Chamber assumed the new mandate, advocate Mokhachane came over to afford as her legal representative on August 4, 2021 and the matter was set down for hearing on the October 12 and 13, 2021 in order to afford new attorneys of record adequate time to consult and prepare their defence.
â€œOn the hearing date, the matter proceeded, and the accused was reminded about the charges against her and she was duly represented, she pleaded guilty to all charges against her. The crown accepted her plea of guilty and instead of calling witnesses to lead viva voca evidence, the summary of what would have their testimonies including some of the affidavits of those crown witnesses were tendered in support of the crownâ€™s case and shall be summarized below.
He said the first witness in the matter would have been one Mokete Mosakeng who is currently employed as an accountant at the DDPR and his evidence summarized though it was marked annexure A for ease of reference. He said the testimony was supported by a bundle of documents whose intention was to prove all the transections that were alleged to have been made by the accused in those charges.
â€œSince the accused person did not deny any of the summary made together with the exhibits and the affidavits filed by crown in support of their case, no detailed summary of those shall be made to avoid repetition of fact safe to mention that at the closure of the crownâ€™s case, the crown counsel voluntarily choose to abandon count four because it was only an attempt to commit the alleged offence and had not been fully covered by the summary of the evidence that the crown had led before court. Accused was therefore found guilty as charged in all the charges except count four which was abandoned as above stated.
â€œAlthough the charges were initially seven as above-mentioned but accused was eventually found guilty of only six charges and since a summary of those charges related to one another as mentioned in paragraphs one, two and three of his judgment, I shall not repeat them and instead shall go straight to the mitigating factors that were raised on behalf of the accused and the following were considered in order to assist this court in reaching a sentence that it deem appropriate for the accused.
â€œThat the accused is a first offender and that all the monies that were alleged to have been stolen or taken by the accused unlawfully were all paid through her terminal benefits from her previous employer (DDPR) as confirmed by the director of that institution and it was evidenced by exhibit 2 being the memorandum of understanding between those two parties.
â€œThat the accused has been corporative throughout the investigations until the matter was referred to court for trial and has also safe the courtâ€™s time by entering a plea of guilty to all the charges against her and those grounds could be considered as a sign of remorse for her wrong doings.
Accused has also lost her job as a result of those acts or omissions though she is the breadwinner in her family. In aggravating factors, nothing much was said by advocate Ntatsi for the crown except that she reiterates the fact the court should considered the seriousness of the offence that the accused has been found guilty of.
He said in the first and fifth count, â€œThe accused is found guilty as charged and she is sentenced to a fine of M10 000 or imprisonment of 10 years on both counts and they run concurrently. However, the whole sentence is suspended on condition that she does not commit the same offence for a period of five years.
â€œOn count two and six, accused is found guilty as charged and she is sentenced to a fine of five thousand maloti (M5000) or two yearsâ€™ imprisonment and the sentence also run concurrently. However, the whole sentence is suspended on condition that she does not commit the same offence for a period of one year.
â€œOn count three and seven accused is found guilty as charged and she is sentenced to a fine of ten thousand maloti or ten yearsâ€™ imprisonment, both sentences run concurrently. However, the whole sentence is suspended on condition that she does not commit the same offences for a period of five years,â€ he said.