April 13, 2023


3 min read

M50million fraud suspect gets another reprieve

M50million fraud suspect gets another reprieve

Selate's lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane

Story highlights

    Selate’s lawyer contends that the Crown is being malicious against his client by not trying him timeously
    The court admits that the accused deserves a fair trial

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MASERU – A Maseru auditor who allegedly masterminded the 2021 M50 million fraud against the government of Lesotho was on Tuesday this week released on M10 000 bail by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.

Lehlohonolo Selate who is expected back in court on April 25 was also ordered to pay an M150 000 surety.

The 42-year-old man from Matsoatlareng was last week Wednesday also slapped with another count of fraud for allegedly defrauding Standard Lesotho Bank of a sum of M460 000 between June 2018 and May 2019.

He was remanded in custody.

In 2021, Selate was arrested and remanded in custody over the M50 million fraud by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court.

He was, however, released last week Monday on a Speed-Trial Act, but police immediately rearrested and slapped him with the M460 000 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 Tsaoeli.

Selate’s lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane told the court that his client was arrested by heavily armed police officers last week Monday within the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) premises and had been in police custody since that time.

Setlojoane told the court that he thereafter asked to be furnished with a docket in respect of his client’s case, to prepare for trial.

He, however, showed that the Crown has not yet provided him with the docket, with the latter citing some logistical hiccups.

“The only way to know the nature of the charge against my client is only if he is furnished with the docket,” he said.

For her part, Advocate Keketso Motiki from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) said the Crown did not refuse to hand over the requested docket to the defence.

“The government is only tied down by lack of resources,” she said.

The presiding officer, Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa in her ruling admitted that although the accused has a right to a fair hearing, the Crown is, however, not obliged to furnish the docket before the accused is charged.

In the bail application, Setlojoane said his client languished in custody for two years without being charged.

He contended that the Crown was being malicious against his client by not trying him timeously

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Motiki opposed the application, arguing that there were several other charges levelled against the accused, dating as far back as 2012.

She said among others, Selate absconded in 2018 and several warrants were issued for his arrest.

In other instances, she said, dockets pertaining to some of the accused's cases mysteriously went missing. 

The court was, however, lenient with Selate this week and granted a temporary reprieve to await trial in the comfort of his home.

Selate, who has acquired vast assets in Lesotho and South Africa, including various prime properties, some of which were seized by the state, was first arrested in 2012 when he allegedly defrauded WASCO a sum of more than M1.1 million.

He was arrested and granted bail but he later absconded and failed to pitch up for his hearings.

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