LEHLOHONOLO Selate was granted bail by the Maseru Magistrate's Court last week, infuriating the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, who subsequently challenged the verdict in the High Court this week.
April 18, 2023
3 min read
DPP opposes Selate bail
Maseru auditor, Lehlohonolo Selate faces fraud charges
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The court last week released the Maseru-based auditor who is accused of orchestrating the 2021 M50 million scam against the government on M10 000 bail. Selate was also told to pay an M150 000 surety and is scheduled to return to court on April 25.
This comes after the 42-year-old man from Matsoatlareng, Maseru was charged with another case of fraud on April 5 for allegedly stealing M460 000 from Standard Lesotho Bank between June 2018 and May 2019.
The DPP's office's advocate Dominic Metlae emphasised in the appeal that the presiding officer, Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa, erred and misdirected herself in relation to the evidence indicating Selate was a flight risk. He stated that the evidence of two warrants issued earlier for Selate’s arrest was never disputed by the defence.
“The learned magistrate ignored the fact that the accused violated his bail conditions in other cases and was arrested after a long period of time while absconding,” he noted.
Metlae said Moopisa failed to appreciate that Selate is being charged with a similar offence to the ones for which he is still on bail.
Furthermore, another ground of the appeal, as per the application, is that the magistrate ignored the fact that the accused is involved in transactional organised crimes, including money-laundering.
This, Metlae said, invariably involves cross-border transactions, which makes the investigations more complex.
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“The learned magistrate ignored the fact that in the present case, the investigations are complete and the matter is ready for hearing. She instead placed too much weight on other matters where investigations were not yet complete. She ignored the fact that the accused absconded in 2018 and further ignored the reasons why those cases did not proceed," he said.
He added that the present case was unearthed during the ongoing investigation of the famous M17 million case, in which the accused is also involved.
He therefore said it could not be proper to find that the investigations are taking ages without completion. He highlighted that the accused was granted bail and surety, which are far less commensurate with the amount involved in the crime.
He said the accused failed dismally to discharge the burden of proof to the effect that he is entitled to a release on bail.
In 2021, Selate was arrested and remanded in custody over the M50 million fraud by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court. He was, however, released on April 3 under the Speedy Trial Act, but the police immediately re-arrested him and slapped him with the M460K fraud charge.
It is alleged that between June 2018 and May 2019, Selate unlawfully made a false representation to the bank that Omega Ntsoele and Lisemelo Tsoaeli were permanent employees of Limomonane Logistics Company and were eligible for loans at the bank.
The misrepresentation resulted in the bank losing M460 000 in supposed loans to Ntsoele and Tsoaeli.