Ex-PS investigated

Ex-PS investigated

MASERU – A former principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Nchemo Maile, is being investigated by the police for allegedly selling off government property illegally, thepost can reveal.
This newspaper heard this week that the police’s Commercial Crimes Counter Unit (CCCU) is looking into a possible case of fraud and corruption against Maile.
The piece of land, which belonged to the ministry, was allegedly sold to the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA).
Police spokesman, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, this week confirmed to thepost that they are investigating a case of fraud and corruption against the Ministry of Agriculture but declined to give further details.

However, papers seen by thepost seem to show that the land was sub-divided into three portions and was transferred to the LNWMGA for M520 000.
A transaction was to be effected on or before March 31, 2014, the papers read.
The papers further show that on July 31, 2013, Maile, who was the Principal Secretary, wrote a letter asking the Land Administration Authority (LAA) to facilitate and formalise transfer of land and granting of the lease to the LNWMGA.
And that letter further indicated that in 2002, the ministry had allocated part of its land at the Department of Livestock Services at Moshoeshoe II to the LNWMGA for construction of an office block (Plot No: 13281-676).

The papers show that Maile stated that the LNWMGA had since built the offices and was requesting the ministry to allow for the expansion of the facilities by building a conference hall for their quarterly and annual congresses.

The ministry had agreed to the request, according to the papers.
The letter further indicated that the concerned part of the site was no longer being used by the Department of Livestock Services.
“As with the office block the proposed hall will be used by the government and non-governmental organisations including other agriculture-related associations and cooperatives,” the papers add.
The papers show that Maile then nominated some officials from the Department of Livestock Services to sign for the lease transfer to the LNWMGA.
The names of the officials have been withheld because we could not get their side of the story.

“On the background of this exposition and in pursuit of our investigations, we request you to provide us with a comprehensive report pertaining to the powers of a Principal Secretary in selling government property as well as procedure to be in this regard,” the papers show.
When contacted for comment, Maile confirmed that he indeed wrote the letter to the LAA.

But the deal was already sealed by his predecessor, he said.
He said the talks were already at an advanced stage and he was merely completing what had already been started before he even got to the ministry.
He said what happened was in consultation with the ministry.

Maile said the deal was done as far back as 1996, arguing that there was no way the building could be constructed without a title deed.
He said the correct procedures were followed when the land was acquired and the go-ahead was given by the former Government Secretary Mohlabi Tsekoa.
Maile flatly denied that there was any monetary transaction involved during the allotting of the land.

“For the past 17 years of my service I have always tried to drive for perfection. I have always tried to ensure that my work does not have any iota of fraud or corruption,” he said.
The president of the LNWMGA, Mokoenehi Thinyane, said they acquired the land from the government through clean means.
He said they did not pay even a cent when they were allotted the plot.
He said they got the land from the government with the assistance of the ministry.

Majara Molupe

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