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Ex-top officials in M300k fraud

Business

Relebohile Makhetha

Three former government officials, Mpane Nthunya, the former Maseru District Administrator (DA), and former Cabinet Administration Principal Secretaries (PS) Kamoho Matlama and Kabelo Lehora are out on bail after being charged with corruption, fraud, and money laundering of over M300 000 against the government.   

The other respondents in the matter are Mashapha Transport and its director, Motlohi Mashapha.

The accused this week appeared in the Magistrate Court, where they were granted bails of M3500 and the surety on the immovable property worth M100 000.

According to the charge sheet, the former government officials are accused of abusing their positions to provide undue advantage to Mashapha Transport by engaging its sprinter vehicles of registration numbers R7244 and A7244, without following proper procurement procedures, and without requesting authority to procure the services from the Ministry of Finance.

The vehicles were engaged on a short term basis used by the DA’s office to transport Covid-19 suspects from Maseru border to quarantine facilities and their destinations around at the height of the Covid -19 pandemic from 2020 to 2023.  

Mashapha Transport and its director, Motlohi are accused of falsifying the mileage covered by their vehicles during their engagement in the claims forms, and in the process defrauded the government of M202 813.65.

The court papers further say Mashapa Transport and its director claimed M57 603.39 in compensation for the fuel used during engagement of the vehicles from the government by falsifying claims form submitted to the Disaster Management Authority (DMA).

It is further alleged that Nthunya made several justifications for the payment of Mashapha Transport’s invoice claims. Additionally, Nthunya allegedly accepted a bribe from Mashapha Transport and its director amounting to M20 000 and M8 0000 transferred into his bank account.

Nthunya was also charged for unlawfully and intentionally acquiring property valued at M20 000 through fraudulent means. He was also charged for unlawfully acquiring another property valued at around M8 000 through fraudulent means.

Lehora is accused of illegally altering a written government contract verbally to enable Mashapha Transport vehicles to be fuelled at government filling stations against the provisions of the written contract.

The charges include contraventions of various sections of the Penal Code Act, the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act, and the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act. The case highlights the seriousness of corruption allegations and underscores the importance of accountability and transparency in government dealings. The case is scheduled to continue on May 21 later this month.

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