Witch-hunt at High Court

Witch-hunt at High Court

MASERU – THE High Court has launched an investigation to find out who leaked an explosive internal audit report that exposes the massive rot at the Palace of Justice.
thepost, the first paper to publish the embarrassing contents of the audit report, can reveal that the investigation started some three weeks ago.

It was instigated by the High Court and Court of Appeal registrar Lesitsi Mokeke who was livid about the leak. Soon after the story was published Mokeke wrote to the head of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) requesting the probe.
Local radio stations also reported on the report which was conducted by the Ministry of Finance’s Internal Audit Division on Mokeke’s invitation.

Mokeke has insisted that the audit covering the financial years between 2011 and 2016 is still a draft that cannot be taken to represent a full picture because his team is yet to respond to some of the queries it raises.

Two police inspectors and a private constable have been assigned the task of catching the leaker. They have interviewed three High Court officials so far.

First to be interrogated was Mokeke’s secretary, Malahliwe Mokoma, who this week flatly declined to be interviewed by thepost over the phone.

A few days later the officers visited Mokeke’s deputy, Reaboha Makamane.
Makamane confirmed being interviewed but refused to give further details.

On Tuesday the police officers interviewed Mojela Shale who, like Makamane, is deputy registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Shale said the interview had left him “shaken” and he spent the better part of the day in hiding because he was “not sure what the police really wanted”. He said the officers arrived around midday as he was opening his office.

He invited them in and they showed him the letter Mokeke had written to the CID requesting an investigation into the leak.
Shale said before the officer started firing their questions he told them that he had some preliminary issues to raise.
“I told them that whoever had sent them should have told them that they cannot interview me without a valid court order because that is per the law. I am a senior officer in the judiciary,” Shale said.

“I told them that my refusal to answer their questions was based on the principle of the separation of power, the constitution and the Judicial Service Act.”
“I also told them that as a judicial officer I was sworn to secrecy and would therefore not violate that oath and the laws of this country by getting involved in such leaks.”

Shale said the private constable became agitated and said they were there on Mokeke’s instructions.
“He said they suspected that I was the one who leaked the report.”

Shale explained that even after telling them that he could not answer their questions the officers refused to leave his office.
“I felt really scared. These were armed police officers in my office refusing to leave and one of them was getting extremely agitated.”
He said to calm the situation he invited the officers to a prayer.

“They agreed and we held hands to pray. During the prayer I cited some verses showing that Jesus was punished for other people’s crimes. After the prayer they seemed to have calmed down.”

Shale said he told the officers that he found it strange that they were hunting for the whistle-blower instead of checking if the audit report does not raise some criminal issues. “I told them I had nothing to do with the report and leak. They then reluctantly agreed to leave but not before I gave them my home address.”

“Since then I have been scared. I know the reputation of the police in this country. Their history is well known so I am intermittently coming into the office because I don’t know what might happen to me.”
He said Mokeke called him twice to find out where he was.

“I told him that I was afraid and would no longer be taking his calls because I did not understand what was happening.”
The audit report revealed that the High Court had violated procurement regulations when it leased a house belonging to one of its judges for Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara for M27 000 per month, M23 000 more than more than what she should get as housing allowance.

Although that was the biggest finding of the auditors it is by no means the only anomaly they unearthed.
In general, the report paints a picture of procurement systems that are a shamble.

The audit’s mandate was to assess adequacy, efficiency and effectiveness of internal control systems relating to procurement and payment of goods and services and receipt of revenue collection in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Staff Reporter

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