23 September 2017

Lesotho: DCEO Investigator Abducted, Shot

AN investigator in the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is recovering in hospital after being abducted and shot by two unknown assailants last Friday.

Thabang Ntai (38) -- who was probing the controversial vehicle fleet tender the previous government inked with Bidvest Bank Limited -- was abducted as he was about to enter the gate of his home in Motse-mocha, Motimposo at around 10pm, according to police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli.

"When he was about to open the gate to his home, two men came out of nowhere pointing guns at him," he said.

"They ordered him to get back into his car and one of the assailants drove the vehicle. Along the way, they picked up a third man and then covered his (Mr Ntai) face so that he couldn't see where they were going.

"They eventually shot him and left him for dead before driving off."

Insp Mopeli said Mr Ntai managed to drag himself away from the area and was rescued by people who were nearby.

Upon asking the rescuers were he was, Mr Ntai was told they were in Ha-Mapetla village in Abia before being taken to a nearby hospital where he is recovering.

Mr Ntai's car was on Sunday found abandoned in Ha Leqele on the parking lot of the Senkatana clinic next to the National Health Training College with the keys still on the ignition. His employment identity document and driver's license were also found in the car.

Insp Mopeli said police investigations into the matter were ongoing, adding that it was too early to conclude if the attack was connected to Mr Ntai's job.

"Police are still making investigations and we would rather not comment on that, lest we prejudice the investigations and fail to see the bigger picture," he said.

The previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led government cancelled the tender in March this year after admitting that Bidvest Bank Limited had milked government of millions of maloti and that the bills were spiralling to a point where it was difficult to pay them off.

While then Finance Minister Tlohang Sekhamane did not state the amounts owed and already paid to the South African institution, Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki has claimed that the former government paid M600 million in the last financial year to Bidvest Bank Limited and followed this up with another M73 million in penalties after prematurely terminating the contract.

Former ministers, Lekhetho Rakuoane and Selibe Mochoboroane, were grilled last month by the DCEO as former members of a cabinet subcommittee that awarded the tender to Bidvest.

Last week, former Finance minister 'Mamphono Khaketla and her friend Thabo Napo were charged with attempting to induce a M4 million bribe from a joint venture company shortlisted for the tender, Lebelonyane, in exchange for being awarded the multimillion maloti tender.

When asked if the attack could be connected with Mr Ntai's investigations, DCEO spokesperson 'Matlhokomelo Senoko said: "We have probed many other cases before and, therefore, I cannot conclude that the shooting had anything to do with the Lebelonyane case lest we jeopardize police investigations.

"Even though we have investigated numerous cases, such an attack has never happened before. It actually highlights the need for our security to be beefed up to keep us safe."

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