LRA chase tender baron

LRA chase tender baron

Staff Reporter

MASERU – CONTROVERSIAL businessman Bothata Mahlala is facing tax evasion charges that could undermine his claim to be running squeeky clean operations.

Mahlala was on Monday hauled before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court to answer 12 charges of failing to file tax returns.

The Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) says Mahlala has failed to file his tax returns since 2005.

The charge sheet says Mahlala registered for income tax on February 2005 and was assigned Tax Identification Number 1003060-1 which was later changed to 1010171-0.

Having registered  Mahlala was obliged to comply with the Income Tax Act.

Under the Act Mahlala was also obliged to file income tax returns before June 30 of every year but did not.

Mahlala is out on M2 500 bail accompanied by normal conditions that he goes to court for remands and that he should not interfere with investigations.

He will appear again before court for possible setdown on September 29.

The crown does not however say state which of Mahlala failed to file returns.

Mahlala is however known as the managing director for Big Bravo (Pty) Ltd, the company that won a lucrative tender to construct a road for the Maseru City Council in Matala Phase 1 and Ha-Leqele in 2013.

The tender was worth a staggering M120 million.

It is this tender that put Mahlala on headlines after a South Africa’s Big Bravo Investments 503 CC Managing Director, Mphutlane Ramorena, complained that Mahlala’s firm had been awarded the multimillion tender despite a letter from the MCC saying his company was the one that had won the job.

Ramorena approached the Commercial Court for redress, seeking an order against the MCC to recover performance guarantee documents he submitted when he tendered for the job.

While relations with his esterwhile partners soured Mahlala’s company was also struggling to complete the project.

Meanwhile questions were also being asked on how the company warn the tender, amid allegations that political connections could have been used to give it the contract.

Mahlala has since denied the allegations of political influence.

Mahlala continued with the road project which should be completed during this quarter, way behind schedule.

Mahlala is also known as a director of a company called New Age Investments which he co-owns with former Trade Minister Popane Lebesa.

New Age Investments acted as a middleman in paying for Lesotho’s students accommodation in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg in 2008.

The students’ accommodation was being paid for by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).

Thepost cannot independently find how much New Age Investments made from the deal with the NMDS, the government’s bursary department.

The government had an unwritten agreement with New Age Investments to pay the rent of more than 500 Basotho students studying at the University of the Free State and Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein and the University of Johannesburg in 2009.

The money was deposited in the account of a company owned by Mahlala, Four Rivers.

In 2009 Mahlala was accused of helping himself to millions of maloti the government had paid him as rentals for basotho students.

The students were left stratended after he failed to pay their rentals on time despite being paid by the government.

The NMDS alleged that Mahlala had over charged the government, an allegations he countered with his own claims that he is actually owed millions of maloti.

Mahlala and Lebesa also had equal ownership of a company called Sea of Mountains Trading 558 in 2009.

He is also a director of Golden Ribbon Trading 396 and Auroscan Investments.

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