Two home affairs officials charged

Two home affairs officials charged

MASERU-TWO Home Affairs ministry officials appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with corruption and money laundering.
The officials, Nthatisi Thabane and ’Mathabo Matsoso, are alleged to have connived with a foreigner, Ensenjor Akinagun, in a M280 000 financial scam.

According to the charge sheet, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) received a tip-off that Thabane and Matsoso had defrauded the ministry an amount of M280 000 from foreigners who had applied to the ministry to be naturalised as Basotho.

The crown accused Thabane, Matsoso and Akinagun of contravening sections of the prevention of corruption and economic offences acts.
The crown says in February this year at or near the Ministry of Home Affairs in Maseru, the three intentionally committed the offence of corruption by abusing the functions or positions of their offices.
It says they did this for the purpose of obtaining an undue advantage for themselves or for other person.

Thabane and Matsoso were employees of the Lesotho government and were posted at the Ministry of Home Affairs holding offices of Refugee and Migration Liaison officer and secretary to the then Deputy Minister Machesetsa Mofomobe.

Akinagun was self-employed as a principal management consultant and was operating in Maseru.
“None of the accused persons were officially or personally involved or had any influence in the official processing or granting of the application for naturalisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the charge sheet reads.
The crown says they collectively or individually contacted some of the applicants who had applied for Lesotho citizenship, and promised to fast-track their applications on their behalf.

To do this, they allegedly demanded that the applicants should each pay M70 000 per application which is the actual payment for the naturalisation process and a further M30 000 as ‘a drink’.
A ‘drink’ is a euphemism for a corrupt act in Lesotho.

The court papers said Akinagun facilitated contact between the applicants and Thabane and constantly conveyed messages back and forth.
“Thabane would later pass messages to Matsoso,” the court heard.
During the period of the process in February 2020, they unlawfully received and kept in their possession monies meant for naturalisation certificates from four applicants amounting to M280 000 and a further M30 000.

“Thabane and Matsoso issued applicants with fake receipts as proof of payment of the M70 000 naturalisation certificate,” the charge sheet said.
To date, none of the applicants has been issued with the naturalisation certificate as neither Thabane, Matsoso and Akinagun had any power or influence over the granting of such documents.

The charge sheet says because of their fraudulent and corrupt conduct, the Ministry of Home Affairs has lost revenue in the amount of M280 000.

Itumeleng Khoete

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