Allegations of disagreements over NMDS debt collection tender
TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI
MASERU – Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Planning, Sello Justice Tšukulu, faces accusations of assaulting the ministry’s director legal services, Advocate Leomile Mojaki. The assault of a female colleague by Tšukulu appears to the culmination of long-drawn-out bad blood between the two.
Public Eye can report that commotion erupted at the ministry’s head office on Wednesday this week, during what was supposed to be a disciplinary hearing of another colleague, and Advocate Mojaki’s partner, over alleged insubordination and use of abusive language towards management.
It is during a heated debate at the time that Advocate Mojaki told this paper that Tšukulu lost his cool and the preparations for the hearing turned into a verbal bout of insults. Tšukulu, she added, had similarly left the room earlier in a rage.
Mojaki claims she also lost her temper and rushed out of the meeting, abandoning discussions and the heated debate on how to proceed with the hearing.
“As I got out of the meeting room I passed the PS, who kicked me and started hurling insults at me,” Mojaki said. “I asked him why he had kicked me but he did not respond but continue verbally abusing me.”
The lawyer continued that as she drew near the minister’s office and was about to go down the stairs, Tšukulu approached her from behind and threw a punch at her – upon which she fell and the PS continued to beat her up.
“I can’t exactly recall all that transpired thereafter, except that I rushed to a nearby office, probably the minister’s guards room, and barricaded myself in.
“The PS continued yelling and hurling abusive statements at me, ‘se**be tooe, ke bona eka o’a ntella, o se**be!’ He was uncontrollable but the people who had gathered nearby during the assault were holding him back, I didn’t see who they were but they were men,” she continued.
Advocate Mojaki said when the PS was later restrained she left for the Maseru Central Charge Office to lodge a complaint and seek a medical form to go the hospital for an examination.
She added that when she returned to the police station, now in the company of her partner, she was confronted again by Tšukulu at station’s gate.
“Ntate Tšukulu alighted from his vehicle wielding a metal rod, went back to the car’s boot where he pulled a fighting stick and approached us in a confrontational manner but police officers who were nearby brought him to order. We were then told to go inside the station where the PS later disappeared,” Mojaki explained.
In a brief interview last night, Tšukulu denied these allegations. He labelled them a smear campaign by Advocate Mojaki, whom she called “an unreliable, untrustworthy woman only bent on protecting her partner.”
“This woman can’t be trusted. She is a liar, and only concocted the assault story to shift focus from the charge her partner faces. She has been lying that the accused, whom she calls her partner, is not available for the hearing yet I know for a fact that he is hiding somewhere in the offices,” he said.
Inquiries by this paper into the matter suggest that the PS and his legal officer have been jostling over the former’s directive to influence the results of a National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) debt collection tender in favour of two companies he allegedly had interests in.
The NMDS multi-million debt collection tender has, since it was award to a local company Jamale Holdings about a decade ago, been marred by claims of fraud and controversy.
Jamale Holdings was engaged by government on a five-year contract to collect overdue debts NMDS, which ran into millions of Maloti.
One Mabona was in 2015 dragged to court facing fraud and forgery charges over documents to win a tender for his company, Jamale Holdings, to collect debts from NMDS beneficiaries on behalf of the government. Jamale’s contract was terminated after it was reportedly discovered that Mabona had produced the fraudulent documents to the NMDS between 2011 and 2012.
He first appeared before the Magistrate Court on November 11, 2015, before Senior Resident Magistrate, Peter Murenzi. In the first count of fraud, Mabona was accused of presenting to the NMDS false information that one Christopher Beans was part of the company so the NMDS could award a debt collection tender to his company.
The prosecution alleged that Mabona gave the said false information so that the NMDS could “act upon the representation to its detriment, thereby causing the NMDS personnel to so act.”
In the second count of fraud, he was accused of submitting to NMDS a fraudulent tax clearance certificate after realising a tax clearance certificate from the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) was one of the requirements to qualify for the award of a tender for debt collection on behalf of NMDS.
Mabona has since died. Lesotho Mounted Police Services spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, could not give details pertaining to Advocate Mojaki’s case last night, indicating that such information has not reached his yet.
MEC leader, and also the Minister of Planning, Selibe Mochoboroane, could also not be found to react to these developments involving senior officials in his ministry – and to respond to claim levelled against MEC.