The National Manpower Development Secretariat’s Public Relations Officer Moeketsi Rankhone was charged alongside four of his counterparts including co-ruling Democratic Congress youth Motlatsi Monoane, 29, from Upper Thamae who works at the Ministry of Home Affairs, with fraud by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on July 15 and 12, 2022 respectively.
Rankhone, 42, from Kolonyana Ha-‘Nena in the Leribe district who resides at Matsoatlareng in Maseru, was charged alongside Lehlohonolo Ntlale, 28, of Makhaleng Ha-Semione who resides at Maqalika, Molantoa ‘Movie’ Kolobe, 48, from Lower Thamae together with Sekake ‘Speedy’ Malataliana aged 40 from upper Thamae.
Ntlale and Monoe made their first appearance in court where they were granted a M700 bail which they were able to pay. They will appear before the same court next week Monday (July 25, 2022).
Rankhone together with Kolobe and Malataliana made their first appearance last Friday July 15, 2022.
According to police reports, the said men are charged for creating fraudulent academic certificates for pupils whose grades do not legally permit them entry into institutions of higher learning and duly receive government educational funding through the NMDS. In executing their felony, they are said to create fraudulent certificates which place the unworthy learners in a position to qualify for tertiary education qualification entry as students, charging each of them M1 500 for the certificate.
They are also reported to fraudulently access the NMDS system database from whence they remove their ‘clients’ from the creditors’ list as though they have duly settled their debts with the Secretariat in full for which they charge them as little as M10 000.
Students pursuing tertiary education at the country’s main institution of higher education – the National University of Lesotho (NUL), pay between M 7810 per annum for a three-year Diploma qualification and up to about M 36 000 for postgraduate qualifications. The fees are usually annually increased at a percentage agreed to by the university Senate and are also exclusive of other monies paid by the Secretariat to the students such as food, accommodation and book allowances.
“When a student owes NMDS, they meet with Rankhone who helps them with a fraudulent bank receipt indicating that they have settled their debt in full. The monies however do not reflect on NMDS’s account yet the debt seems paid,” the police reports say.
It is unclear how many people have had their debts cleared in this way from the NMDS as well as how much the Secretariat loses through the debts which are fraudulently cleared and will never be recovered by the government.
Meanwhile, the police found two computers which were being used to carry-out the dubious acts and will be used as exhibit in the courts of law.
The case will continue on the stated dates while police investigations are still ongoing.
NMDS is a government Department under the Ministry of Development Planning mandated through the National Manpower Development Council Act of 1978, to provide loan bursaries to deserving Basotho students wishing to pursue higher education and training.
The NMDS also sponsors pupils from needy families with excellent academic performance through a grant system to pursue secondary school education.
The Secretariat specifically administers partially reimbursable loan bursaries on behalf of the Government of Lesotho (GoL) for students pursuing priority fields of study at tertiary and vocational schools locally, regionally and internationally.