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Fund sued

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MASERU-THE Public Officers’ Defined Contribution Fund is being sued for allegedly cutting corners when it appointed its acting principal officer.
Komane Motaba, a Teaching Service Department director who is also the Fund’s trustee, filed an urgent application in the High Court on Tuesday to change the appointment of Sempe Moshoeshoe.

Motaba complains that the board violated the Fund’s regulations when it appointed Moshoeshoe, who is the corporate secretary, as its acting principal officer.
The Fund has about 40 000 members and is worth about M7 billion.
Moshoeshoe was replacing Thabo Thulo whose contract expired on January 31.

Motaba argues that the Pension Fund Act explicitly provides that a principal officer can only be appointed, whether in an acting or substantive capacity, with the approval of the Central Bank of Lesotho as the regulator.
He says Moshoeshoe “accepted the offer contrary to the peremptory prescripts of the law”.

Moshoeshoe’s appointment “is contrary to the dynamics of the corporate governance and sound administration for the legal advisor of both the administration/secretariat and the board”, Motaba says.
“He is glaringly conflicted and cannot as such act in the context of this case.”

“I aver that this approach compromises the independence and functional autonomy of the office of corporate secretary and also his role as the chief legal advisor of the secretariat of the Fund.”
“It renders him conflicted to the core and for that reason and for that reason his appointment must be declared a nullity if not illegal.”
Motaba says Moshoeshoe should have informed the board about his conflicted position.

He wants the court to order the Finance Minister to act against the board for making the decision.
Motaba claims the minister has the powers in law “to impose any action, including penal sanctions, against any members of the board for any non-compliance and or compromised dynamics of corporate governance”.
He also argues that the Central Bank has the statutory power to impose any action against the board for failing to comply with the requirements of appointing a principal officer.

Motaba is also asking the court to disqualify two members of the board, Futho Hoohlo and Monaheng Mahlatsi, for taking sides with the Public Officers’ Defined Contribution Pension Fund Association (the Association) in suing the Fund last year.
“The impact of that litigation was for them to seek to nullify a decision of the same board in which they are members by joining in the crusade of beneficiaries in the most unethical ways,” he said.

He said most of the litigants in that case were not even members of the Fund as “only two of the pensioners cited in these proceedings are in receipt of a monthly pension” from the Fund.
This is a case in which the Association is seeking an order to block the Fund from appointing NBC Lesotho as its administrators.

The association appears to be in favour of Akani Retirement Fund Administrators, a South African company, that lost the contract to NBC Lesotho.
“They were clearly disenchanted with the decision of the board which endorsed the appointment of administrator of fund of which they are members and were using the Association and the aforesaid beneficiaries to nullify a decision to which they are an integral part of by virtue of their membership of the board of trustees,” Motaba says.
Motaba said Hoohlo and Mahlatsi “owe a fiduciary duty to the board and

the act of them doubling-up with a desired end of frustrating the resolutions of the same board in which they participated”.
Motaba also complains that despite that there is a pending High Court case in which the appointment of NBC Lesotho is challenged there is an advert calling for the company’s forensic audit.

He said the effort is made “to compromise an evidently pending matter in which the efforts are being made to cause for the engagement of a forensic auditor to investigate the administration services of the Fund offered by the long-standing company” NBC Lesotho.
“I aver that this approach is glaringly an uncharacteristic disposition because the matter and or the issue is sub judice in the mentioned matter,” he said.

“Quite strikingly, Mr Futho Hoohlo is the chairman of the evaluation and tender committee and he has been quite instrumental in the initiation of proceedings aimed at nullifying not only the administrator’s contract but also initiating a forensic investigation of the same enterprise in the most unprocedural of ways,” he said.

He said the decision by Hoohlo and Mahlatsi to join the association’s case against the Fund “was nothing but an endeavour of seeking appointment of forensic auditors”.
“In this pending matter they are seeking appointment of forensic auditors and that relief was declined but they are effectively seeking to obtain the relief they asked for extra-judicially.”

Motaba is also accusing the Fund’s board of sitting in a joint meeting with the board of Specified Officers Defined Contribution Pension Fund (Specified Fund).
He said when the principal officer was being appointed the two boards had a joint meeting.
He said this was “grossly irregular if not illegal”.
Motaba said the two funds are regulated by different legislative regimes and in the law that facilitates the sitting of the respective boards in a joint setting.

“As a matter of fact, the members of these boards are not having similar genetic make-up and membership,” he said.
“For instance, I as a trustee I have no connection with those people serving in the sister Fund and there is no provision tying me to their mandate,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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