Two MEC officials charged for fraud

Two MEC officials charged for fraud

MASERU – TWO senior officials of the opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) party and four others have been charged with fraud involving M17 million.
The party’s treasurer, Makhetha Thaele, 39, and the youth league’s secretary general Qetello Moletsane, 30, are accused together with ’Mamothibeli Titi, 34, ’Mamokone Bereng, 35, Joel Lerotholi, 30, and a 41-year-old Thabiso Mapetla.

They appeared before senior magistrate Peter Murenzi on Monday and applied for bail on the second day but the court put it on hold pending the crown furnishing it with reasons for objection.
According to the charge sheet, between October and November 2018 they acted in concert to defraud the government of money amounting to M17 million and transferred it to their different bank accounts.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said Thaele was linked to a fraud case where Abiel Moletsane was suspected of swindling M5 million from the Sub Accountancy in Leribe.
And following this incident, Makhetha’s account was loaded with a whopping M400 000.
Moletsane was earlier last month interrogated by the police over the M5 million stolen from the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
But he denied the allegations that he had a hand in the theft of the money.

As for the other accused it was not clear how they are linked with the crime.
Public prosecutor Qimunisi Tshabalala told the court that investigations into the crime were still going on.
“This is a holding charge. More charges are to be preferred against the accused,” Tshabalala said.
Advocate Ketsi for the accused, praying for bail, said they were not guilty as the charge alleged.
Ketsi reasoned that if the accused were released on bail they would report to the police and to the court whenever they would be called.
“They have special circumstances that cause them to need bail,” Ketsi argued.

“They have families and are breadwinners. They will not interfere with investigations and (they) promise to cooperate with the police,” he said.
He said they will stand trial and attend remands whenever they are called.
Prosecutor Hlaele, who assisted Tshabalala, told the magistrate that the bail application should be put on hold because the mastermind of the fraud is being traced.
He pleaded that the application should be adjourned by at least for 14 days, arguing that if the accused are released they would jeopardise police investigations.
He argued that they might meet the mastermind who is still at large.

Advocate Ketsi said he had “serious objection to the postponement”.
Advocate Ketsi argued that Hlaele’s statement was “without any tangible evidence (and) will be prejudicial to the accused as it impinges on their right to liberty”.
“We cannot wait for 14 days,” he said.

The magistrate said the reasons advanced by the crown are not adequate and the crown should show more evidence on the subject.
Prosecutor Tshabalala said they were trying to lead evidence in objection to bail.
“The crown asks for some time to collect such evidence,” he said.
Thaele was arrested by the police last Saturday.

The MEC has since distanced itself from crimes that could have been committed by its members.
The MEC, in a statement released on Monday, said the arrest of its members should not be associated with the party as they are accused as individuals.
The party said the accused will answer their cases before the police and the courts on their own as individuals not as party members.
“We would like to distance the MEC from their individual activities,” the party said.

It said it understood the responsibility of the police together with the courts of law.
“Whenever there is suspicion of crime, police have authority to arrest whoever is suspected,” the statement reads.

MEC secretary general Napo Moshoeshoe said the matter is not linked to his political party and it should be entirely separated from politics.
Moshoeshoe said they wanted to appeal to their party supporters to support Thaele and Moletsane as individuals, not as party members.
He said they do not want to be harsh on their members but the intention is to take measures against the members if found guilty, in a bid to protect the party’s image.

Senate Sekotlo & Katakata Lethoasa

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