Nkherepe Mopeli, the chairperson of Liqhobong Bonesa, a community electrification project for Liqhobong in Butha-Buthe, was recently charged with multiple counts including fraud, money laundering and corruption.
The 58-year-old Mopeli from Motete, Liqhobong, last week appeared before the Botha-Bothe Magistrate Court to be held accountable for allegedly pilfering the community’s money amounting to M470,000.
This was revealed by an investigation conducted by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
Mopeli was granted a bail of M5,000 and surety of M20,000, which he failed to pay, and subsequently went to prison.
The matter is before Magistrate Manyehelo Ramakhula.
It is alleged that Mopeli stole part of the money that was paid to the community as compensation for the land used by the Liqhobong Mining Development Company (LMDC).
Before receiving the money, the community formed and registered a society named Liqhobong Multipurpose Association to take care of the money.
The society bank accounts, each dedicated to a specific development programme, into which compensation money would be deposited were opened with Nedbank Lesotho in Hlotse, Leribe.
The mine then paid about M650,000 to the community.
One of the development projects was the electrification of Liqhobong village. The project was named “Liqhobong Bonesa.
According to the charge sheet, Mopeli stands accused of contravening section 68, read with section 109 and scheduled (Penalties) of the Penal Code Act, 2010, Act No.6 of 2012.
It is alleged that on or about February 8, 17, and 18, 2021, he made a false representation to Maletsepa Lesefa, treasurer of Liqhobong Bonesa to co-sign withdrawal slip to withdraw money in the amount of M98 000, M202 000 and M170 000 respectively from Nedbank for purpose of installing electricity.
“In that upon or about February 8, 2023, and at or near Nedbank, Hlotse, in Leribe district, the said accused did commit fraud, to wit, by deliberately making false representation to Maletsepa Lesefa, treasurer of Liqhobong Bonesa…
“…that accused together with the said Maletsepa have to co-sign the withdrawal slip to withdraw money in the amount of M98 000 from Nedbank account Number 12990714531 for the purpose of paying for electricity installation at Liqhobong village, with the intention that Maletsepa Lesefa acted on such representation and which representation she acted upon by apprehending her signature to the withdrawal slip of M98 000 to the detriment of Liqhobong Bonesa and or Liqhobong Multipurpose Association,” the charge reads.
“Whereas the accused knew well that; he was not being truthful about the money to pay for its intended purpose of paying for electricity installation and he was not supposed to use the money for his own enrichment,” the charge continues.
The charge continues that the latter is further indicted for stealing the money amounting to M170 000 on February 18, 2021, tricking Lesefa that the money was going to be used for electricity installation for Liqhobong village.
According to the court papers, he also stands accused of contravening section 21 (3) (b), read with sections 2, 20, 31 (A), 32, and 34 of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Act Offences Act No.5 of 1999, as amended by section 17 and 20 of Act No.8 of 2006.
The same charge sheet indicates that: “In that upon or about February 8, 2023, and or near places unknown to the Crown, in the district of Leribe, accused, in his capacity as the chair of Liqhobong Bonesa and a signatory to Liqhobong Bonesa account number 12990714531 held at Nedbank Leribe did intentionally commit the offence of corruption by abusing the functions of his position, in the performance thereof and in the discharge of his functions, for the purpose of obtaining an undue advantage for himself and or for other persons unknown to the Crown.”
“The accused misrepresented to Maletsepa Mesefa that she has to co-sign for a deposit slip for the withdrawal of M98 000 as payment for the installation of electricity at Liqhobong village.
“As such, the accused obtained an undue advantage for himself and or for other persons unknown to the Crown,” the charge reads.
The indictment continues that the accused abused his office powers by propelling Lesefa to sign the withdrawal slip to withdraw money amounting to M202,000 and M170,000 on February 17 and 18, 2023, respectively for his own personal benefit.
Mopeli was further charged with money laundering in that he violated the provisions of section 25 (a) (i) read with sections 25 (4) of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, 2008 (Act No.4 of 2008), as amended by the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act No.7 of 2016).
It is said that on February 8, 17, and 18, 2021, at or near Nedbank in Leribe district, he did unlawfully and intentionally acquire and or possess and or use property, to wit, M98,000, M202,000, and M170,000 knowing or having reason to suspect that such property is derived directly or indirectly from acts or omissions which constitute a serious offence in Lesotho.
“In that upon or about February 8, 2021, and at or near Nedbank in Leribe district, the said accused did unlawfully and intentionally acquire and or possess and or use property, to wit, M98 000 knowing or having reason to suspect that such property is derived directly or indirectly from acts or omissions which constitute a serious offence in Lesotho,” the charge reads.