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Former top govt officials in M4 million corruption scandal

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

In a stunning development that has sent shockwaves through the political and business circles, the former Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, Lefu Manyokole (59), has been charged with corruption and fraud.

Manyokole was charged along with former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), Makhotso Mahosi (46), and young entrepreneur Pitso ‘Bikerboy’ Ntsukunyane (27), owner of LL Constructions (PTY) Ltd, have.

The charges were formally brought against the trio on Wednesday, as detailed in the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) charge sheet.

According to the charge sheet, Manyokole, Mahosi, and Ntsukunyane allegedly conspired to unlawfully award a tender worth M4 million to LL Construction last year between October and November.

The heart of the matter lies in a construction contract awarded to LL Construction for the repair of the Seboche Bridge in the Butha-Buthe district.

This decision came in the wake of heavy floods that ravaged road infrastructure, leading to a state of disaster declaration by former Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, as stated in gazette No.18 of February 2021.

The National Disaster Relief Task Force compiled a report outlining the necessary rehabilitation work, damage assessment, and cost estimates for various road and bridge repair projects.

The charge sheet reads: “In all material times relevant to these charges, accused persons acting in concert and sharing a common intention or purpose did design, devise an unlawful enterprise or scheme of corruption and money laundering to appoint LL Construction Pty Ltd to construct a bridge at Seboche in Butha-Buthe, mainly with the purpose to acquire, possess, and use monies claimed from the government of Lesotho through the roads rehabilitation project, to conceal and disguise the illicit origin or true nature of the said monies and or properties.”

According to the charge sheet, between October and November 2022, at or near DMA offices in Maseru, Manyokole and Mahosi, being public officers at the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, and DMA respectively, shared an intention or purpose to pursue an unlawful act together and in furtherance of such common intention or purpose did abuse the functions or positions of their respective offices by influencing and finally awarding a construction contract in respect of a bridge at Seboche in Butha-Buthe district to LL Construction Pty Ltd without following procurement procedures and as a result, LL Construction unduly benefited.

The charge sheet goes on to outline further allegations of false representation and concealment of facts with intent to cause detriment to the government.

“By representing to the Disaster Management Authority officers that LL Construction was engaged to offer construction works at Seboche whereas, at the time of the representation, the accused persons knew or ought to have known that LL Construction was engaged unilaterally by Accused two (Mahosi) and without compliance with due procurement procedures, and as a result, the government of Lesotho suffered prejudice to the amount of M4,538,900.14.”

The case is currently before Magistrate Mamorojele Qoo and is expected to garner significant attention as it unfolds.

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