‘Directors forfeited right of protection’

‘Directors forfeited right of protection’

Staff Reporter

MASERU – THE directors of Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions who accused Finance Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla of demanding a M4 million bribe lost their right to full protection of the law after they went public with their allegations.

This is according to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) spokeswoman ’Matlhokomelo Senoko.

Senoko told thepost last night that had the whistleblowers not gone public they would have enjoyed full protection under the DCEO Act.

“Rest assured that our law protects whistleblowers and it is our responsibility to intervene when they are tampered with,” Senoko said.

“When a whistleblower gives us information it remains a secret between him and us and if we see him being harassed for giving us the information we swiftly use the provision of the law to protect him.”

“We do not tolerate the victimisation of whistleblowers. They are very important to us and without them we would not have any case to investigate because we would not know that there is corruption happening somewhere in the government,” she said.

But, with the allegation of corruption against Khaketla, Senoko said the whistleblowers attracted attention of the police and are now facing criminal defamation charges.

“These people talked about a document they had handed over to the DCEO on air and now we are unable to protect them. It is no longer a secret between them and us, they made it public,” she said.

The Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions directors claim Khaketla demanded a M4 million bribe so that a tender to supply fleet services to the government could be awarded to their company.

These directors, together with members of the youth league of Khaketla’s party the Democratic Congress, went on air about the bribery allegations and produced a government confidential document that showed that the company had won the tender fairly and squarely but to their surprise the government withdrew it without a valid reason.

The minister has since denied the claims and is now demanding M6 million in damages from the DC Youth League leader Thuso Litjobo. She also lodged a case of theft of a classified document with the police.

The Maseru Urban police commander Senior Superintendent Motlatsi Mapola told this paper last night that Khaketla “formally reported a case of theft of a classified government document”.

Mapola said Khaketla lodged the case with the police on August 8 and the police opened a docket numbered Maseru RCI 3/08/16 and started investigations.

“This is a common theft case and we had to deal with it,” Mapola said.

After Khaketla reported the theft to the police and also lodged criminal defamation case, the Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions directors and DC youth league leaders were called by the police for questioning.

The Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions lawyer, Advocate Tembo Lesupi, was also quizzed over the matter.

“There was nothing unusual about that. We were doing our job and where a crime is suspected we have to investigate it,” Mapola said.

He said the police were not investigating a case of corruption and they were not interfering with the DCEO’s investigation in this case because “all we knew was the case reported to us and we started our investigations accordingly”.

“Normally when we find a case of corruption we refer it to the DCEO but in this case we were not investigating that, this is purely a case of theft,” he said.

“Our role as the police is to investigate all crimes, including corruption although in most cases we refer it to the DCEO, and there is no way we could overlook this crime of theft reported to us,” he said.

“We are also investigating a case of criminal defamation.”

Senoko said the Memorandum of Understanding they signed with the police does not mandate the DCEO to interfere with the police’s investigations and also does not give the police the right to tamper with the DCEO’s investigations.

“The police are doing their job by investigating a case of criminal defamation and there is no way we can stop them,” Senoko said.

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