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A sigh of relief for Nko?


…As criminal charges get dropped

Mohloai Mpesi

Attempted murder charges against Dr. Retšelisitsoe Nko, the fired Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) have been dropped by the government.

The surprising turn of events unfolded at the Maseru Magistrate Court, where Senior Resident Magistrate Thamae Thamae issued the order to withdraw all charges against Nko.

The court order simply stated, “Having heard advocate Keletso Motiki (for the prosecution) and Monaheng Seeiso Rasekoai (for the accused), the charges against the accused are withdrawn.”

Notably, there was no immediate comment from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, regarding the reasons behind the withdrawal of these “serious” charges.

Dr. Nko had found himself entangled in a legal battle, facing two charges of attempted murder.

Additionally, he was accused of malicious damage to property and disturbing the peace.

These allegations stemmed from a specific incident that occurred on December 27, 2022, in Hillsview, Maseru.

Dr. Nko was accused of intentionally shooting Thulo Mothepu and Sithole Mothepu during this incident and shooting himself multiple times.

Following the December disruption allegations, Dr. Nko was suspended from his position as LTDC CEO on December 29, 2022.

His legal woes were further compounded when he was remanded out of custody on January 10, 2023, due to injuries he sustained from the shooting.

During his initial court appearance on February 7, he arrived at court on a stretcher and later appeared for hearings in a wheelchair.

Amid these legal proceedings, Dr. Nko also faced financial repercussions.

LTDC had reduced his salary, asserting that he was on unpaid leave. However, a significant development occurred on February 15, 2023, when a court order prohibited LTDC from pursuing any disciplinary inquiry against him.

Despite this directive, Dr. Nko received a termination letter firing him from the corporation.

The letter was signed by Moshe Mosaase, the Principal Secretary responsible for tourism and subsequently served as the chairman of the LTDC board.

Mosaase in the letter cited reasons such as “Dr. Nko bringing disrepute to the corporation’s name and displaying threatening behaviour.”

Nevertheless, Dr. Nko recently secured a legal victory in court when Magistrate Teboho Thoso ordered that LTDC must pay all his salaries and benefits.

Notably, sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity alleged that Dr. Nko had not been served with a docket since the beginning of the year, suggesting a lack of incriminating evidence against him.

Dr. Nko took legal action to challenge the perceived unlawfulness of his suspension, prompting Magistrate Thoso to issue an interim order preventing LTDC and its board from taking any disciplinary actions against him until the matter was resolved.

It emerged during these proceedings that LTDC had deliberately withheld Dr. Nko’s salary and benefits, claiming that his paid leave had been exhausted.

On August 7, 2023, the contempt matter was ruled upon, with Magistrate Thoso emphasizing Dr. Nko’s entitlement to his full salary and associated benefits while under suspension. This underscored the principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

However, it was noted that despite this court ruling, LTDC had proceeded to advertise for a new CEO position, seemingly disregarding the court’s directive.

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