Manyokole fires first shots

Manyokole fires first shots

MASERU – THE new Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) boss has told his investigators that they should not arrest or take any action against suspects in “high profile” cases without his permission.
Attorney Mahlomola Manyokole’s curious instructions are contained in a memo to the DCEO’s chief investigations officer, Thabiso Thibeli, on July 18.
In the memo Manyokole first demanded dockets of all high profiles case, saying he wanted to review them. “Kindly bring physical files and or dockets of high profile cases that are in your custody today on the 18th day of July, 2019 for my review,” Manyokole ordered.

The memo also came with a stern warning to Thibeli: “Take further notice that you should inform DG’s office first before you take any further enforcement measures against any individual or company.”
Because Thibeli is the chief investigations officer the memo means he cannot take action against high profile suspects without Manyokole’s approval.
The instruction has already raised eyebrows among some DCEO investigators who suspect Manyokole could have particular interests in some cases under investigation.
One of those cases is an investigation into an alleged corruption scandal surrounding the government’s scheme to hire vehicles from Basotho.

The suspects, who cannot be named because they are yet to be brought to court, are two senior government officials, a prominent politician and two individuals.
The two government officials are key decision makers in one ministry. The politician belongs to one of the parties in the coalition government. The individuals are fairly popular characters.
The suspects are alleged to have demanded bribes from Basotho who wanted government to hire their vehicles. At least two of those suspects are said to be close friends or associates of Manyokole.
However, this allegation has not been independently verified beyond the fact that Manyokole has been occasionally seen in the company of the two individuals.

An investigation by thepost has revealed that Thibeli and his team were about to wrap up the case when Manyokole allegedly took its file and docket from an investigator who was working on it.
He allegedly took the files and dockets on July 18, the same day he ordered Thibeli to seek his approval before taking “any enforcement measures” against high profile suspects.
On the same day, sources say, the DCEO investigators had summoned three of the suspects to their offices. The three suspects had their fingerprints and photos taken in preparation for their first court appearance which was supposed to be on July 23 (Tuesday).
thepost can reveal that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has already approved the case for trial.

On Tuesday this week DCEO investigators and prosecutors were getting ready to take the three suspects to court when Manyokole allegedly told them to wait because he is reviewing the case.
This paper could not find concrete evidence to suggest that Manyokole could have used his position to block the case. As DCEO director, he has the right to review cases.
Meanwhile Manyokole seems to be laying the ground to suspend Thibeli.
On July 18 he told Thibeli that he intends to suspend him pending an investigation.
He gave Thibeli until the morning on 22 to give reasons why he should not be suspended.
Thibeli has responded, dismissing the four allegations Manyokole made.

He confirmed to thepost that he received the memos and letter but refused to give further details, saying they are confidential.
“There are those letters but there is nothing more I can say now,” Thibeli said.
Manyokole said the allegations that he is interfering with cases are unfounded.
“There is nothing sinister with the order that I be informed before investigators make decision on high profile cases,” Manyokole said.

He said the memo was not directed to Thibeli alone but all investigators and prosecutors.
“The motive,” he said, “has nothing to do with frustrating or blocking cases but to understand them and see how we can proceed with them”.
“What are people afraid of? There is nothing to be scared of if they are doing their work properly.”

Staff reporter


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