Fraud Case against former Lesotho Minister of Finance Postponed

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Several postponements of court cases involving high profile people costs taxpayers monies paid out to judges and magistrates in monthly salaries.

This sentiment was expressed in the High Court today by Judge T’seliso Monaphathi in a trial of former finance minister Timothy Thahane which was adjourned for hearing later this month.

Monaphathi said such several postponements of cases involving high profile people was becoming a costly tradition which required ruthless extinction. This was due to some postponements of hearing of Thahane’s block farming court case involving over M18 million paid for Temo-‘Moho Mpharane Agricultural Association.

“This court is concerned of several postponements of high profile cases because it feels it’s becoming intolerable tradition. This is very costly to us taxpayers. It’s taxpayers who complain daily and it is about reputation of court, both judges and magistrates,” fumed Monaphathi.

He judged such a reputation as bad given that the taxpayers regard judges as being paid for postponement of court cases.

“That perception is for us to remove ruthlessly starting from now on and it must be unacceptable to the crown. In some occasions defense counsels contribute and make us very angry because they are officers of the court including the Attorney General and judges,” noted Monaphathi.

The case was adjourned to September 18 after it failed to proceed on the September 1. However, it was not prosecuted as the defence counsel Advocate Qhalehang Letsika failed to show up in court.

Advocate Letsika told the court Thahane was eager to have the matter heard as soon as possible. Thus having no intention to frustrate the court proceedings. He sought the matter be adjourned due to the absence of another defence counsel who is based in South Africa.

Advocate Letsika informed the judge the matter was previously not heard due to political instability. He said he was in court when the dates of November 12-14 were set for hearing of the case. It then emerged that November 11 was a set date that was scheduled according to the court roll.

When the proceedings began today, Thahane was not in court sparking anger from the judge who reprimanded against failure to appear in court.

Representing the crown, Advocate Guido Penzhorn, SC, assisted by Advocate Sefako Seema of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) had expressed his readiness to prosecute the case starting today to November 14 but he could not do so.

The matter has been adjourned for hearing from November 26-27 and December 2-3 2014.

Thahane is charged of defrauding the government of Lesotho more than M18 million in payment for agricultural inputs and storage services due to Temo-‘Moho by the Standard Lesotho Bank in June 2008 and 2010 in pretext that the government had extended a block farming support on vegetable production.

 

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