Date finally set for Manyokole to face tribunal



MASERU- Embattled Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General, Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole, will finally have his day before a tribunal investigating his fitness to hold office.

A three-member tribunal established on December 18, 2020 began an investigation on whether the anti-corruption head is fit to hold office on Monday this week. The process was, however, suspended because Manyokole’s lawyer fell ill after testing positive for Covid-19 but was recovering. While the lawyer is believed to be now Covid negative, Manyokole told the tribunal that the lawyer still has breathing difficulties and has been booked off duty as a result.

He tendered a sick note and requested a postponement which was duly granted. However, he raised numerous points before the proceedings could be adjourned to next Monday. Manyokole said he finds himself in a difficult situation where he has to assist the tribunal but has been barred from: accessing DCEO offices, accessing documents at the Directorate, as well as communicating with DCEO staff members.

The suspension letter he was served with on December 10 2020 laid numerous complaints against him. Former Law, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao accused Manyokole of irregularly and illegally staging a litigation, filing an affidavit as well as citing the anti-corruption body as a litigant for his own personal matters, neglecting and failing to develop and implement a sound management system within the DCEO so as “to maximise the efficiency of the investigative mandate of the anti-corruption body”.

By citing DCEO for personal reasons, the Prof Mahao said Manyokole compromised the institutional and functional autonomy of DECO and acted contrary to the law. He also accuses Manyokole of failure to manage the affairs of DCEO “well with the requisite diligence and professional aptitude.”

“You unilaterally endeavoured to withdraw criminal charges staged against one former Minister of Finance – ‘Mamphono Khaketla – without the concurrence and or consultation with the office of Director of Public Prosecutions and, as a result, arrogated to your esteemed office the powers which you do not enjoy. As a result, you brought both the office of Director General of the institution you lead and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions into disrepute,” the former minister further states.

A tribunal investigating his fitness to hold office was subsequently established but faced a legal hurdle when Manyokole asked that a legal notice establishing it be nullified for being unintelligible, vague and overboard.

The High Court refused to invalidate the legal notice saying “the terms of the legal notice are clear; it is to make an investigation into whether Mr. Manyokole should be removed. The fact that it is not mentioned in the legal notice whether what is to be investigated is his incapacity occasioned by infirmity of body or mind or any other cause prohibiting him from discharging his function or misconduct, does not take the matter any further.”

Manyokole escalated the matter to the Apex Court but was also dismissed giving the tribunal a go ahead. He, however, told the tribunal on Monday that said he has not been able to prepare for his appearance due to the suspension letter that clearly stipulates he is not supposed to communicate with any of the staff members.

He explained that a few days after his suspension, through a memo, staffers at the DCEO were ordered not to communicate with him or face serious criminal charges. He therefore asked the commission to intervene. In order to assist the tribunal, Manyokole says he will need access to certain documents and the staff to testify.

“In order to respond to issues before this tribunal, I have to speak to some of the employees and have access to documents in the Director General’s office so as to assist this tribunal to reach a fair and just decision,” he said. The submission was met with questions from members of the panel who asked if he has identified staff members he would like to have access to and whether he knows of any particular documents in at the DCEO that he intends to use.

The tribunal’s Chairperson Judge Teboho Moiloa said: “The discovery procedure should happen in relation to documents you believe will assist you in relation to this hearing.” Manyokole said he was placing the request before the tribunal because he sought assistance from prosecution in vain. He also made a special plea to be assisted with his legal bills. He says due to shortage of finances, his lawyer Advocate Tekane Maqakachane could only appear once. Manyokole also told the tribunal that he has other other criminal cases pending before the courts and are costing him.

The anti-corruption boss argues that the state’s failure to assist him to pay his legal bills would be discriminatory in that the government paid legal bills for the President of the Appeal Court, Dr Kananelo Mosito, when he appeared before a similar tribunal.

However, he says his attempts to get the government to assist him were in vain as the office of the Prime Minister ignored his letter. Government’s lawyer Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai said Manyokole may not have succeeded to get the state funding because he was writing to the wrong office. He said the relevant office is that of the Attorney General (AG) and undertook to take the issue with the office.

“That is now water under the bridge, I undertake to engage the office of the Attorney General to consider this issue in good faith and for the sake of fairness,” Rasekoai said. However, he explained that there is a certain procedure to be followed and that there has to be a memorandum of agreement on the tariffs. This he said after Manyokole said his legal fees amount to M1.6 million.

“In his letter, Mr Maqakachane demands M1,6 million. That is not how we went about it (in the Mosito case). There has to be a memorandum of agreement on the tariffs and the rates which have to be paid…I will duly advise Mr Maqakachane on the proper approach,” Rasekoai said. Before adjourning the proceedings to Monday, Judge Moiloa stressed the importance of finalising the hearing saying, “For your sake and for everybody’s sake, we want to know what the outcome will be so that you enjoy your life without this thing hanging over your head. So, we need to expedite these matters and all of us need to cooperate with each other.”

The retired judge said the tribunal has no problem with him accessing documents and witnesses he is seeking. The prosecution then undertook to liaise with relevant authorities over Manyokole’s demands and update the tribunal next Monday. Retired Judge Teboho Moiloa is chairing the tribunal and sits with Justice Semapo Peete (also Retired) and Justice Polo Banyane. After their investigation, they will make recommendations to the Prime Minister as to whether or not Advocate Manyokole ought to be removed from office.


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